Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Associated Press: Gay marriage lawyers say no to help from S.F.

The Associated Press: Gay marriage lawyers say no to help from S.F.

By PAUL ELIAS (AP) – 7 hours ago

SAN FRANCISCO — The prominent lawyers leading the fight to legalize gay marriage in California on Friday formally told San Francisco officials and three other groups supportive of same-sex weddings "thanks, but no thanks" for trying to join their federal lawsuit.

Attorneys David Boies and Theodore Olson petitioned U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker with legal arguments meant to block the city and the groups from standing together with the lawyers at trial. San Francisco put gay marriage front and center on Valentine's Day 2004 when Mayor Gavin Newsom opened City Hall to same-sex weddings.

Boies and Olson argued that allowing San Francisco into the legal fight would needlessly delay the case's resolution.

A spokesman for San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera didn't return a telephone call late Friday night.

Boies and Olson also asked that three other gay-rights groups should be barred from joining the case on similar grounds. They also argued that the conservative Campaign for California Families be prevented from joining the case in opposition, saying the group also doesn't have standing in the case.

"Campaign has failed to offer any argument that differs from those raised by" the parties already officially fighting the lawsuit, Boies and Olson wrote. The lawyers said all of the organization's concerns are being addressed by lawyers with the Alliance Defense Fund, which the judge has allowed to intervene to argue against the lawsuit.

Boies and Olson, who represented Al Gore and George W. Bush respectively in the legal fight over the 2000 presidential elections, filed the lawsuit on behalf of two gay couples seeking to marry in California. They argued that they are now in the best position to legalize gay marriage in the state with arguments that the ban violates federal anti-discrimination protections.

The court filing highlighted the continuing disagreement among gay marriage supporters over how best to fight for same-sex weddings in the state.

Many influential gay rights groups fear a fight in federal court will ultimately end up before a U.S. Supreme Court comprised of a socially conservative majority that could deal the same-sex marriage campaign a significant setback with an adverse ruling.

Critics of that tack complain about the failure of the same-sex marriage campaign to defeat Proposition 8, which passed in November with 52 percent of the vote and limited marriage to a man and a woman. Boies, Olson and many others now contend the fight is ripe for a federal anti-discrimination challenge and at least three other federal challenges have been filed in Los Angeles and Boston.

On Friday, Boies and Olson argued that the case should proceed to trial before a judge without a jury before the end of the year. Lawyers with the Alliance Defense Fund argued in court papers Friday that the case could be decided rapidly without a trial.

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