Pro-Equality Conservative Prop 8 Attorney Ted Olson is Coaching Paul Ryan for Debate Against Joe Biden

Ted Olson, one of the two star attorneys leading American Foundation for Equal Rights in its court battle against Proposition 8, is coaching GOP VP nominee Paul Ryan for his debates against Vice President Joe Biden, several news outlets are reporting:

OlsonChris Johnson at the Washington Blade:

Ted Olson, who’s been litigating against Prop 8 on behalf of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, is set to play the role of Vice President Joseph Biden in debate practice against Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan. Buzzfeed and Politico reported the news Saturday morning, which was confirmed to the Washington Blade by Brendan Buck, a Ryan spokesperson working on the Romney campaign.

“Joe Biden has been in elected office for more than 40 years,” Buck said. “There are few people in politics with more experience debating the issues than Joe Biden, so we are taking this process seriously. Mr. Olson is one of the most skilled, intelligent, and successful litigators in America– just the kind of opponent needed to prepare the congressman for Mr. Biden.”

Buck said Olson will receive no compensation from the Romney campaign for his role impersonating Biden as part of debate preparation.

National Stonewall Democrats executive director Jerame Davis is concerned:

“After he has spent as much time, money, and reputation on overturning Prop 8 as he has, it’s shocking to learn that Ted Olson would lift a finger to help the Romney-Ryan ticket during debate prep. The Romney-Ryan ticket stands completely counter to the goals of AFER and Ted Olson’s stated belief that Prop 8 should be overturned. I have always been concerned that the architect of Bush v. Gore was one of the lead attorney’s in the fight to overturn Prop 8, but I honestly never expected Olson to so blatantly contradict his own argument by supporting a ticket that would stand squarely in opposition to what he calls one of the most important cases of his career.”

Other LGBT group leaders offer more of a shrug. Rick Jacobs, chair of the Courage Campaign, says "I know [Olson's] commitment to equality is real and unshakable" and hopes he will use some of those hours lecturing Ryan on equality. Freedom to Marry's Evan Wolfson said he prefers when Olson works for our side.


  1. HadenoughBS says

    While I, too prefer Olson working for “our side”, I don’t begrudge his volunteer work for the Romney-Ryan campaign. Olson never ever said he was no longer a Republican when he took on the Prop 8 case. In fact, this effort may work in “our” favor in upcoming court cases as well as in the court-of-public-opinion as it strengthens Olson’s bona fides to the conservatives even with his Prop 8 work. After all, Olson always has stated that marriage equality is a conversative position. IMHO, he remains true to his convictions (which is a hell of a lot more than I can say for the Romney-Ryan ticket).

  2. belo says

    On the bright side, Olson coaching Ryan raises expectations for Ryan to do extremely well, or he’ll look like an idiot who couldn’t take advantage of one of the best and brightest legal minds in America. With Olson so well versed in the equality issues, if Ryan bungles by trotting out the same old tired extremist rhetoric, that too will work against him.

  3. velocifero says

    Olsen argued on behalf of Bush in Bush Vs. Gore. He has always said he was a Republican. Also, Obama smartly has a number of Republican advisors in his campaign and probably some helping him with debate preparation as well.

  4. Oz in OK says

    I think Mr. Olson is extremely crafty in taking on this role – obviously the issue of LGBT rights (and Marriage Equality) is going to come up in the debates… and this gives Mr. Olson direct access to the Romney/Ryan campaign like no other pro-equality supporter can. This opportunity gives Mr. Olson the chance to coach Ryan on how Equality can be a conservative value.

  5. jamal49 says

    Mr. Olsen never checked his republicon leanings at the door when he took on the challenge for Proposition 8. To his credit, he has always maintained that marriage equality is a “conservative issue”. Let’s see how well he can coach Paul Ryan. Joe Biden is no prize when it comes to debating and Mr. Biden might have his hands full with the young whipper-snapper Ryan.

  6. Guest says

    Yeah, I’m in the “shrug” camp here. He didn’t suddenly become not-Republican when he took on Prop 8.

    At some point, though clearly not now, we’re going to have to get beyond single-party thinking. Obviously there’s not much point in bothering with this GOP, but when enough of their base dies off we’re going to find that lots of younger Republicans consider marriage equality a non-controversial issue.

  7. Caliban says

    Sorry, but I can’t help but be a little disappointed. I know Olson is a Republican and he’s never said or implied that had changed, but Romney/Ryan have put a fair amount of emphasis on their opposition to marriage equality. Their opposition is driven in part by religious beliefs, Romney’s Mormonism and Ryans’ Catholicism, the exact type of thinking Olson has faced in his Prop8 work.

    It’s not that I suddenly don’t appreciate his Prop8 work but, yeah, I’m a little let down by this.

  8. Icebloo says

    This is exactly why we should NOT be using this guy. He is a liar and a snake. He is just another straight person who is happy to take our money but then stab us in the back.

    When will gay people stop this bs ? Do we really value ourselves so low that we want this evil shi$head on our side ? We deserve better ! There are OTHER lawyers we can use. This snake is not our friend !

  9. Freddie says

    Am very surprised at how bitchy and partisan the comment from National Stonewall Democrats was. Guess what, Ted Olson is a Republican. Just because he believes in the 14th Amendment and marriage equality, doesn’t stop him from being a conservative. Jeez guys, cut him slack. This is an ally, remember.