How Ted Olson Became a Gay Marriage Crusader

Conservative attorney has long opposed discrimination
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 19, 2009 9:07 AM CDT
Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain left, speaks in Wait Chapel at Wake Forest University as former Solicitor General Ted Olson, center, listens, May 6, 2008, in Winston-Salem, NC.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
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(Newser) – Conservative lawyer Ted Olson fought Bush’s side against Gore, loosened government regulations under Reagan, and helped impeach Bill Clinton. So how did the man liberals love to hate end up on their side of the gay marriage fight? Olson, who filed a lawsuit challenging California’s ban on same-sex marriage, tells the New York Times that this case aligns perfectly with the other causes he espouses: It involves "the rights and happiness and equal treatment of millions of people."

Olson is a longtime opponent of discrimination: In the 1960s, he “tore into” a restaurant owner for refusing to serve a black teammate. When the Bush administration considered amending the Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman, he railed against it. And though some remain suspicious that Olson only took the case to sink it, for Olson—who brought his former Bush v. Gore adversary on his legal team to ease such rumors—it’s about protecting gays from being treated as “second-class and unworthy.”