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January 20, 2010

As courtroom and media strategies unfold, high-profile Dems criticize Obama on gay rights

David Boies, the prominent Democratic trial lawyer who is co-litigating the federal marriage case in California with Republican Ted Olsen, tells NYT columnist Maureen Dowd that "I hope my Democratic president will catch up to my conservative Republican co-counsel."  And San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom says of Obama's opposition to same-sex marriage, "it's fundamentally inexcusable for a member of the Democratic party to stand on the principle that separate is now equal, but only on the basis of sexual orientation. We've always fought for the rights of minorities and against the whims of majorities."

The Dowd column is more evidence that Boies and Olsen are combining a careful litigation strategy with a savvy media strategy:

As the sun set on the Bay Bridge behind him and the curtain dropped on the first week of the dramatic trial to challenge the constitutionality of the state's ban on same-sex marriage, Olson reviewed the case: "We're going to explain why allowing same-sex couples to have that same right that the rest of us have is not going to hurt heterosexual marriages. It has no point at all except some people don't want to recognize gays and lesbians as normal, as human beings."

Boies, wearing a flag pin on his lapel, said that the state of California is engaged in "gay bashing." He spoke intensely about the gay and lesbian plaintiffs, who offered poignant testimony about their loving relationships and about wanting to be liked and accepted: "These people are people you would want your child to grow up and marry. You can be a child molester and get married. You can be a wife beater and get married. You can be a child-support scofflaw and get married. The importance of that emotional relationship is so vital to the pursuit of happiness that even prison felons, who aren't really procreating, have a right to get married."

-SS

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