Ted Olson’s Remarkable Defense of Same Sex Marriage

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Although I have had the clip above for days in a queue, I am embarrassed that I am just seeing this powerful exchange now.
It is simply remarkable to watch and hear former Bush administration Solicitor General Ted Olson make the clearest, strongest case for the full civil rights of gay and lesbian Americans — indeed, all Americans — that I have ever heard.
Fox’s Chris Wallace tried hard to trip up Olson, and that’s his job — but he just couldn’t do it.
Olson is a busy lawyer, with many more cases than this one to deal with — but would be great to have him on Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell.
Huge thanks to Ted Olson for the extraordinary role he is playing in reshaping the American civil rights environment.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

20 comments on “Ted Olson’s Remarkable Defense of Same Sex Marriage

  1. questions says:

    Oh I am SO sorry drew that the world broke its promise to you. It’s really sad that you were promised a post racial society where some races’ unemployment rates are beyond staggering and where some races’ loss of wealth is beyond staggering and where some laws seem to target some races over others and poor poor dear it didn’t end with the inauguration.
    Gosh, when the world lets you down a scant 24 months after swearing up and down that it wouldn’t……
    As for rule-followers — no. The craving seems to be to interpret the rules to favor certain groups, to change the rules as needed, and to disobey the rules when it’s convenient.
    And then to demand that the rules be followed if it suddenly comes to be that one needs the rules.
    As in:
    Keep the government out of my Medicare, I never thought I’d need to get food from a food pantry, I am one of the GOOD people who needs public assistance, not one of the lazy ones….

    Reply

  2. drew says:

    questions, you’re delusional. But go ahead and project your
    insights onto the body politic.
    My alternative view: Americans, basically, are followers of rules.
    They don’t like it when their own government says that rules are
    for losers or the less fortunate or are too impractical to
    implement.
    It is so descriptive that you conclude your fact-free discussion
    with an accusation of racism. I find it so ironic that in this era of
    post-racial politics, which I was promised 24 months ago, as the
    Left implodes in less than the same 24 months, and potentially
    wipes out the Democratic party as an effective vehicle for
    national leadership for a generation, that I cannot read an
    alarmed commentary without someone being accused of being
    ‘racist’. Keep it up, please.
    –drew

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  3. questions says:

    nadine,
    no, there’s a lot more going on than fear of a flood of teh Messicans…..
    My understanding of the history of population movements is that not that many people would come. That many people would actually like to return to Mexico, but that they can’t because of tighter border control. That labor flows across borders in both directions when it can.
    What people are really afraid of, if the news is to be believed include the following:
    Exploding Mexican/terrorist babies
    Anchor babies
    the Spanish language
    feeling less at home because so damned many signs are bilingual
    headless bodies in the desert
    dramatic increases in crimes that miraculously coexist with the lowest crime rates in many years
    Social Security (the tea set hates)
    There’s been a comingling of the fear of a terror planet with the fear of a brown planet and the fear of a queer planet and the fear of mutual support — all of this comes together in crazy pattern thinking.
    The fantasy of white purity underlies it all. White purity, “capitalism” badly understood, and Christianity (also badly misunderstood) all flow together in some kind of strange logic that I fail to fathom.

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  4. nadine says:

    “It’s a completely different fantasy of collective/communal life. It doesn’t rest on fear of impurity, hatred of teh Messicans or whatever else masquerades as Arizona’s “policy.””
    Questions, you are just stuck on stupid with this “fear of impurity” stuff. Nobody is afraid of “impurity.” People are afraid of another 50 million Mexicans flooding over the uncontrolled border if we give amnesty to the 12 – 20 million who are here already without first securing the border.

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  5. questions says:

    And on that other 14th Amendment related issue, here’s Utah, changing its tune!!!
    From the WaPo:
    “CENTERFIELD, UTAH — Just weeks ago, Utah seemed destined to become the next state to draw a rigid line against illegal immigration. Lawmakers were completing work on a proposal similar to the law approved in Arizona, authorizing police to check the immigration status of those suspected of being in the country illegally. Utah’s Republican governor, Gary R. Herbert, had made it clear he expected to sign a tough law early next year.
    But rather suddenly, Utah officials are considering a different path, pondering measures that would help integrate undocumented workers already in the state but still punish those who enter illegally in the future. Where Congress has failed to find common ground, Utah is trying to come up with its own version of a more comprehensive immigration policy. ”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/13/AR2010081304360.html?hpid=topnews
    Now of course it’s the fed’s job to deal with this as a whole, but the basic idea of integrating people who are here instead of arresting them, forcing everyone to carry papers or whatever the fuck Arizona is doing to give red meat to blood thirsty racists, this would seem to be a start.
    It’s a completely different fantasy of collective/communal life. It doesn’t rest on fear of impurity, hatred of teh Messicans or whatever else masquerades as Arizona’s “policy.”
    Now if we could do this same change of fantasy for a few other issue areas, we’d be in decent shape as a species.
    It amazes me sometimes how much policy has to cope with dumbfuck fantasy and how little information and facts matter once you have a narrative in place.
    Really really amazing how it all works.
    To those amazing Republicans who are breaking free of the nutfuckwing end of the Republican fantasy creation, THANK YOU.

    Reply

  6. Cee says:

    I was happily stunned when I heard his voice and had to turn to the TV to see that it WAS him.

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  7. Jim says:

    Ted Olsen is a genuine American freedom fighter. The intent of Prop 8 was un-American, unfair and, unjust. America is not anti-religion, but it is anti-theocracy.
    There is likely to be a prolonged battle ahead to curtail embedded linkages between RELIGION and the cultural definition of MARRIAGE. Theologians perpetually argue about what MARRIAGE is, and isn

    Reply

  8. nadine says:

    Drew, let me put it this way: consider the legal ramifications if the state no longer recognizes the existence of a thing called “marriage” or “family” or “relatives”, which is what would be implied by the state suddenly going agnostic on the idea of marriage. Major parts of estate law and child welfare law go out the window. There would be no provable relations except via DNA tests.
    I know as a libertarian you’d like the state to butt out and accept whatever relation people said they were in, but you’d soon be contending with group marriages and relationships that lasted two hours and all kinds of nonsense that the state would required to figure out when children are abandoned, orphaned or abused and the state steps in in loco parentis. I suppose it could be done; it is done in a fashion for common law marriage; but it doesn’t really make sense to me to go there deliberately. You could argue that the state should also butt out of child welfare, but that’s not going to happen for obvious reasons.

    Reply

  9. drew says:

    Nadine, I don’t see it. There are a variety of contractual relations
    that we all freely engage in that do not require state approval,
    and appropriately so. Pushing state approval of marriage then
    requires us to seek state approval or regulation of the
    components of marriage — such as sexual practices, now
    thankfully remote but not always so.
    I think that this will be clearer shortly for precisely the reason
    you note, above; while the intelligentsia disdains Morman
    polygamy, our benighted progressivism will soon endorse
    Muslim polygamy. So we will use the full force of government to
    collapse further the family and community traditions that are
    central to most people’s lives, and the alienation of citizen and
    government will advance. I think it’s far better to just not touch
    this issue as a matter of state policy and let people do what they
    want: let them self-organize.
    Anyway, that’s a libertarian fantasy, I suppose, and we’ll continue
    to watch the sporting efforts of left and right to get control of
    government machinery, in order to tell other people what to do.

    Reply

  10. Drew says:

    Nadine, I don’t see it. There are a variety of contractual relations
    that we all freely engage in that do not require state approval,
    and appropriately so. Pushing state approval of marriage then
    requires us to seek state approval or regulation of the
    components of marriage — such as sexual practices, now
    thankfully remote but not always so.
    I think that this will be clearer shortly for precisely the reason
    you note, above; while the intelligentsia disdains Morman
    polygamy, our benighted progressivism will soon endorse
    Muslim polygamy. So we will use the full force of government to
    collapse further the family and community traditions that are
    central to most people’s lives, and the alienation of citizen and
    government will advance. I think it’s far better to just not touch
    this issue as a matter of state policy and let people do what they
    want: let them self-organize.
    Anyway, that’s a libertarian fantasy, I suppose, and we’ll continue
    to watch the sporting efforts of left and right to get control of
    government machinery, in order to tell other people what to do.

    Reply

  11. nadine says:

    “For me the puzzling question is why marriage must be sanctioned by the state. ” (drew)
    Drew, marriage has always been sanctioned by the state, because family structure is deeply entwined with property rights and the inheritance of property, all of which the state has an interest in safeguarding. So the family structure has to be recognized by the state.

    Reply

  12. nadine says:

    “As I recall some founding father or another stated that in the United States “the law” was supreme, including the Constitution, including the part in the 14th Amendment that requires states to provide its citizens equal protection of the laws, which includes providing the responsibilities/rights of marriage equally to citizens unless there’s a good reason not to. And Judge Walker, after a long trial in which marriage opponents had plenty of opportunity to argue otherwise, found there is not a good reason to keep gay couples excluded from legal marriage. What part of the above do you disagree with?” (MacCheerful)
    The part that says that the rights of marriage were not equally available to all citizens before this. Homosexuals always had exactly the same right to marry as any other citizen — they were perfectly free to marry any person of the opposite sex, same as anybody else.
    This is the sleight of hand involved in claiming, as Olson does, that gay marriages is JUST EXACTLY THE SAME as giving the franchise to blacks in the Civil Rights struggle. Blacks were already citizens and already were supposed to have the franchise; neither citizenship, elections, nor voting needed to be redefined to give blacks access to the ballot.
    But marriage is different. It does need to be redefined, which is the part defenders of gay marriage always try to sidestep. The better to paint the majority of Americans, who think it might be unwise to redefine marriage away from the definition that Western Civilization has used for over 2000 years, as a bunch of irrational bigots.
    Judge Walker has now thrown open such legal questions as, “now that mere moral disapproval has been ruled an illegitimate reason to disallow any form of marriage, what conceivable opposition can there be to legalizing polygamy?” Polygamy is extremely degrading to the status of women and I don’t want it in this country. But it’s now on the way, thanks to a bunch of greedy militant gays whose attitude is “I want mine, Jack, and I don’t give a damn how I get it or what comes afterwards.” If they can’t get it passed in the legislature, they will get some judge to overrule the citizens and their representatives; the ends justify the means.
    They should be careful what they wish for. Rights that can be given by one judge can be taken away by one judge. Restoring the rule of law may be less simple.
    Here is a refreshingly honest critique of Judge Walker’s decision by Jonathan Rausch; I say honest because Rausch is himself a gay man in a gay marriage, but he cannot stomach the fundamental lawlessness of Walker’s decision.
    http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2010/08/11/2010-08-11_the_radical_gay_rights_ruling_leading_supporter_of_samesex_marriage_challenges_p.html

    Reply

  13. samuelburke says:

    phenomenal explanation. thanks steve.

    Reply

  14. Drew says:

    I’m fine with this decision but of course it means that there is not
    (and will not be) any restriction on marriage between siblings, nor
    any reason to deny Mormonesque polygamy. Most people I know
    support gay marriage but oppose polygamy. But there’s no reason
    any longer to deny the polygamists or the incestuists. Have at it,
    Utah!
    For me the puzzling question is why marriage must be sanctioned
    by the state.

    Reply

  15. MacCheerful says:

    Nadine,
    As I recall some founding father or another stated that in the United States “the law” was supreme, including the Constitution, including the part in the 14th Amendment that requires states to provide its citizens equal protection of the laws, which includes providing the responsibilities/rights of marriage equally to citizens unless there’s a good reason not to. And Judge Walker, after a long trial in which marriage opponents had plenty of opportunity to argue otherwise, found there is not a good reason to keep gay couples excluded from legal marriage. What part of the above do you disagree with?
    Or do you prefer the rights of minorities in the U.S. to be generally subject to popular vote, without any additional review or constraint?

    Reply

  16. nadine says:

    questions, the question that won’t fade anytime soon is “Who is sovereign in the USA, the people or the judiciary?” One judge just disenfranchised 7 million Californians by willfully declaring their decision “irrational.”

    Reply

  17. questions says:

    As a follow up on the hope issue —
    the best thing might be that the parties to the appeal have no standing as the Governator and the AG Brown aren’t interested in appealing. I have seen this possibility written up a few times.
    If this is so, the law is overturned, people marry and very quickly the issue fades.
    A new case elsewhere emerges after people have had a little more time to see how gay marriage really changes nothing aside from letting more people marry.
    Nate Silver reports a poll that shows approval for gay marriage has perhaps just crossed the 50% barrier. This is a really good sign of the tide’s turning.
    A backlash either at the Supreme Court or in the streets would be horrific. A backlash at the ballot box would be pretty awful.
    But letting CA be CA and then letting this spread across the country in a reasonable time span would make it a non-issue.
    However it ends up working out, I sincerely hope the time is right and the backlash is non-existent.

    Reply

  18. questions says:

    Here’s hoping…..

    Reply

  19. Josh M. says:

    This is beautiful.
    Olson articulates his case more fully in an
    excellent article titled “The Conservative Case
    for Gay Marriage.”
    Excerpt:
    California’s Proposition 8 is particularly
    vulnerable to constitutional challenge, because
    that state has now enacted a crazy-quilt of
    marriage regulation that makes no sense to anyone.
    California recognizes marriage between men and
    women, including persons on death row, child
    abusers, and wife beaters. At the same time,
    California prohibits marriage by loving, caring,
    stable partners of the same sex, but tries to make
    up for it by giving them the alternative of
    “domestic partnerships” with virtually all of the
    rights of married persons except the official,
    state-approved status of marriage. Finally,
    California recognizes 18,000 same-sex marriages
    that took place in the months between the state
    Supreme Court’s ruling that upheld gay-marriage
    rights and the decision of California’s citizens
    to withdraw those rights by enacting Proposition
    8.
    So there are now three classes of Californians:
    heterosexual couples who can get married,
    divorced, and remarried, if they wish; same-sex
    couples who cannot get married but can live
    together in domestic partnerships; and same-sex
    couples who are now married but who, if they
    divorce, cannot remarry. This is an irrational
    system, it is discriminatory, and it cannot stand.
    Americans who believe in the words of the
    Declaration of Independence, in Lincoln’s
    Gettysburg Address, in the 14th Amendment, and in
    the Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection
    and equal dignity before the law cannot sit by
    while this wrong continues. This is not a
    conservative or liberal issue; it is an American
    one, and it is time that we, as Americans,
    embraced it.

    Reply

  20. WigWag says:

    Good for Ted Olson; he’s taken a principled and eloquent stand on the issue of equal rights for gay Americans.
    It would be interesting to know Mr. Olson’s take on the controversy surrounding the mosque/cultural center to be located near Ground Zero.
    September 11, 2001 was Olson’s 61st birthday and on that day, his wife, Barbara Olson, died on American flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon.
    I wonder whether he thinks locating the mosque/cultural center on this site is a good idea.

    Reply

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