When the Olson-Boies Prop 8 lawsuit first dropped, many gay rights groups opposed the suit as premature. Now, a few of those groups have changed their tune and are seeking to intervene in the case.
After the frosty reception they gave the lawsuit initially, however, their request to join the lawsuit has met with an equally icy response from the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the group funding the litigation on behalf of the plaintiffs.
Just to refresh your memory, the lawsuit is an equal protection and due process challenge to Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that amended the state's constitution to prohibit same-sex marriages. The attorneys hired by the two couples challenging the amendment are the same two who argued on different sides of the Bush v. Gore debacle. Earlier this week, Chief Judge Vaughn Walker, who is overseeing the case, announced that he wanted to move to a trial quickly and thoroughly since the real issues would be decided on appeal.
Now, however, three additional groups want to get involved in the action.
The National Center for Lesbian Rights, the American Civil Liberties
Union and Lambda Legal filed a motion yesterday asking the judge to
allow them to intervene in the suit as plaintiffs.
The groups claim that:
Intervenors, who represent much broader diversity among same-sex
couples than the two Plaintiff couples (or any two couples by
themselves), would facilitate a more comprehensive examination of the
harms inflicted on same-sex couples by Proposition 8's exclusion of
those couples from marriage. In addition, given the extensive
experience and expertise of Proposed Intervenors and their counsel in
litigating the very factual issues identified by the Court as in need
of adjudication here, Proposed Intervenors would be of great assistance
to the parties and the Court in developing an evidentiary record as
thoroughly and efficiently as possible.
Not so fast,
says Chad Griffin, the president of the American Foundation for Equal
Rights' board. In a letter to the organizations, Griffin said that
"[y]ou have unrelentingly and unequivocally acted to undermine this
even before it was filed. Considering this, it is inconceivable that
you would zealously and effectively litigate this case if you were
successful in intervening."
Griffin promised to vigorously oppose the motion.
Judge Walker allowed several of Prop 8's proponents to intervene
earlier in the case, but it's unclear if he'll make the same decision
now that he's announced his competing desires for a full factual record
as well as a speedy trial.
The only thing that's clear is
that the Pro-Prop 8 groups will be rooting for the groups to join
the suit. It's the old divide and conquer trick: There's nothing like
bickering plaintiffs to ensure that defendants get the win.
See Also: Gay legal groups want in on Calif court case (SacBee) LGBT Community Groups Seek to Intervene in Federal Challenge to Proposition 8 (Lambda Legal) Prop 8 Case Update: LGBT Groups Seek to Intervene (LawDork 2.0)