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75+ Prominent Republicans Sign Brief Urging Supreme Court to Strike Down Proposition 8

More than 75 current and former GOP elected officials including former Reagan and Bush cabinet members, former governors, and key GOP consultants and strategists have signed on to an amicus brief to be filed on Thursday urging the Supreme Court to strike down Proposition 8.

See a summary and excerpts from the brief obtained by Towleroad, below....

MehlmanAmong those signing the brief, according to organizers, are former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman, former California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, former U.S. Deputy Atty General Jim Comey, Mary Cheney, Senior Romney Adviser in Iowa Dave Kochel, Reps Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Richard Hanna (R-NY), and Bush National Security Advisor Steven Hadley.

Many of those who signed it have never before made public their support of marriage equality.

UPDATE: Here's the full list (so far) of signatories.

The brief argues that "there is no legitimate, fact-based justification for different legal treatment of committed relationships between same-sex couples," arguing that marriage equality promotes conservative values:

Amici start from the premise—recognized by this Court on at least fourteen occasions—that marriage is both a fundamental right protected by our Constitution and a venerable institution that confers countless benefits, both to those who marry and to society at large.  …  It is precisely because marriage is so important in producing and protecting strong and stable family structures that amici do not agree that the government can rationally promote the goal of strengthening families by denying civil marriage to same-sex couples.

It also argues that there is no credible social science behind the arguments pushed by Prop 8's proponents:

Deinstitutionalization.  No credible evidence supports the deinstitutionalization theory.   …  Petitioners fail to explain how extending civil marriage to same-sex couples will dilute or undermine the benefits of that institution for opposite-sex couples … or for society at large.  It will instead do the opposite.  Extending civil marriage to same-sex couples is a clear endorsement of the multiple benefits of marriage—stability, lifetime commitment, financial support during crisis and old age, etc.—and a reaffirmation of the social value of this institution.

Biology.  There is also no biological justification for denying civil marriage to same-sex couples.  Allowing same-sex couples to marry in no way undermines the importance of marriage for opposite-sex couples who enter into marriage to provide a stable family structure for their children.

Child Welfare.  If there were persuasive evidence that same-sex marriage was detrimental to children, amici would give that evidence great weight.  But there is not.  Social scientists have resoundingly rejected the claim that children fare better when raised by opposite-sex parents than they would with same-sex parents.

And although the law is consonant with firmly held beliefs, it does not sustain its Constitutionality:

Although amici firmly believe that society should proceed cautiously before adopting significant changes to beneficial institutions, we do not believe that society must remain indifferent to facts. This Court has not hesitated to reconsider a law’s outmoded justifications and, where appropriate, to deem them insufficient to survive an equal protection challenge.  The bases on which the proponents of laws like Proposition 8 rely are the products of similar thinking that can no longer pass muster when the evidence as it now stands is viewed rationally, not through the lens of belief though sincerely held.

Finally, the brief encourages court to protect the fundamental right to marry by offering it to same-sex couples:

Choosing to marry is also a paradigmatic exercise of human liberty.  Marriage is thus central to government’s goal of promoting the liberty of individuals and a free society.  For those who choose to marry, legal recognition of that marriage serves as a bulwark against unwarranted government intervention into deeply personal concerns such as the way in which children will be raised and in medical decisions.

Amici recognize that a signal and admirable characteristic of our judiciary is the exercise of restraint. Nonetheless, this Court’s “deference in matters of policy cannot … become abdication of matters of law.” The right to marry indisputably falls within the narrow band of specially protected liberties that this Court ensures are protected from unwarranted curtailment. Proposition 8 ran afoul of our constitutional order by submitting to popular referendum a fundamental right that there is no legitimate, fact-based reason to deny to same-sex couples.  This case accordingly presents one of the rare but inescapable instances in which this Court must intervene to redress overreaching by the electorate.

Said Mehlman to the NYT: "“We are trying to say to the court that we are judicial and political conservatives, and it is consistent with our values and philosophy for you to overturn Proposition 8."

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  1. Oh yes, TWO currently elected Republican politicians. TWO. And we are supposed to think that this is so awesome? I guess you have to start somewhere.

    Posted by: homer | Feb 26, 2013 8:14:12 AM

  2. I know it's not nice to look a gift horse in the mouth, but it's not hard to notice how many of these people are FORMER officials, not currently serving. It's nearly impossible for a currently active Republican to hold any but the most regressive views.

    The Republican party is reaping the dubious benefits of what it has for so long sowed, deliberately appealing to the Religious Right. Much of the party ideology, with its focus on laissez faire capitalism and corporate interests over those of citizens, was a hard sell to the middle and lower class. The GOP knew they couldn't win on their actual policies so they exploited the "wedge issues" of God, Gays, and Guns. You have to add other issues in there too like abortion, immigration, women's rights, and racism.

    Back when they first started doing it very few in the Republican power structure actually cared about those issues. They wanted to get the rubes to vote against their own financial interests so they exploited their fear and hate. Eventually the Religious Right and social conservatives tired of just getting lip service so now they've taken over, making the party into what it only pretended to be before. The GOP has become the party of redneck "values," an amalgam of Jesus freaks, racists, gay haters, and paranoid gun nuts. (Often all at the same time.)

    So while I appreciate what the signers of this brief did, by doing so they've put themselves far out of the GOP mainstream which is chock full of nuts. And they only have themselves to blame for that state of affairs.

    Posted by: Caliban | Feb 26, 2013 8:45:54 AM

  3. It's all about the votes, baby!

    Posted by: Jack M | Feb 26, 2013 8:53:51 AM

  4. I agree that Meg Whitman is just trying to make nice now with all the lgbt folks in her industry. When she was appealing to her Republican base in her failed run for Governor, it was then expedient to toss us aside and support Prop 8. She's just political, could care less about us.

    Posted by: Jim | Feb 26, 2013 10:47:09 AM

  5. 75 mostly unknown Republicans. Progress? Sure. It's better than 25 unknown Republicans.

    But "prominent"? Pffff. Stop doing the work of rehabilitating the GOP. Make THEM do it themselves.

    Posted by: BobN | Feb 26, 2013 10:50:35 AM

  6. And, yet, virtually ALL of them have been against LGBT people and our full civil equality over the years and one year, 2004 in particular, stands out for the viciousness of the virulent anti-gay attacks against us (Ken Mehlman, are you listening?). Should we be grateful? With friends like those, who needs enemies.

    The hell with them all.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Feb 26, 2013 11:31:06 AM

  7. @Anonymous: Thanks for the Prop 8 vs DOMA correction. My rusty brain!

    Posted by: BABH | Feb 26, 2013 12:13:53 PM

  8. @Paul R: this article (and brief) is not about DOMA is it, and Prop 8 is not small potatoes compared to anything, it is a very big issue to many.

    What beef do you have to pick with me, because I am waiting for Obama to weigh in on Prop 8 (if he is so inclined), it does not mean I am watching "so" carefully either, I am just watching while waiting like millions of others.

    I also live in California, but I rather find Prop 8 to be a big issue. I am not sure what DOMA has to do with this article we are discussing? Are you trying to find something negative to write?

    Posted by: Jeff | Feb 26, 2013 3:05:49 PM

  9. @Jeff: Obama weighed in on Prop 8 in 2008, when he called it divisive, adding that normally constitutions grant rights rather than restricting them.

    Posted by: Bill | Feb 27, 2013 1:16:23 AM

  10. Suspect, but interesting.

    Posted by: Josh | Feb 27, 2013 3:43:27 PM

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