The Freedom to Marry and the Law
October 04, 2010
Posted by Nick Traverse on newyorker.com:
"At Saturday’s freedom to marry panel at the SVA Theatre, David Boies bemoaned the current lack of universal inclusiveness in marriage law.
“'Essentially, the only group in our society that is defined by law as being outside is gays and lesbians,' Boies said. 'That is the last bastion of really official discrimination.'
"This past August, in a watershed moment for gay rights, Boies and fellow litigator Theodore Olson successfully represented the plaintiffs in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the case that overturned California’s Proposition 8 ballot initiative to prohibit marriage for same-sex couples. Cynthia Nixon, an openly gay award-winning actress, R. Clarke Cooper, a Republican advocate for gay rights, and Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay diocesan bishop in the Anglican Communion, joined Boies in his sentiment.
"Fellow panelist Brian Brown, the president of the National Organization for Marriage, a non-profit group opposed to marriage equality, represented the opposite end of the ideological spectrum. This being New York, he was decidedly in the minority, both onstage and in terms of the audience. Nonetheless, he held his ground, condemning what he sees as an attempt to redefine what marriage has traditionally been.
"Nixon took issue and rebutted in one of the more poignant moments of an emotionally charged afternoon.
"'Gay people who want to marry have no desire to redefine marriage in any way,' she said. 'When women got the vote, they did not redefine voting. When African-Americans got the right to sit at a lunch counter alongside white people, they did not redefine eating out. They were simply invited to the table. And that is all we want to do. We have no desire to change marriage. We want to be entitled to not only the same privileges, but the same responsibilities as straight people.'
"If the California case eventually makes it to the Supreme Court, Boies has little doubt regarding the outcome, despite the court’s current political partisanship.
“'Properly explained, this is not liberal or conservative, Republican or Democratic,' he said. 'This is something that all Americans who believe in the Constitution ought to be behind. I think if it gets to the Supreme Court, we have a good chance of convincing them.'
"Regardless of the issue’s future legal trajectory, Boies maintains that someday, due to a shift in generational mores, this will no longer be an issue."
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