Federal Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling last week, that California’s Proposition 8 violates the US Constitution, was more than a groundbreaking ruling in a landmark trial. It was, and still is, a media opportunity.
It is an opportunity for gay and lesbian couples to tell their stories to their friends and neighbors. But just as importantly, it is an opportunity for conservatives who support marriage equality to make their case to the public.
Attorneys arguing in favor of Proposition 8 were conservative. But nobody can question the conservative credentials of Ted Olson, who co-helmed the opposition’s legal team. Olson argued for George W. Bush in the 2000 Bush v. Gore Supreme Court case, and was Bush’s Solicitor General. Judge Walker himself was nominated to the bench by President Reagan, and rejected for being too conservative. He was then re-nominated (successfully) by George H.W. Bush.
A handful of conservative thinkers are taking this opportunity to champion the conservative case for allowing gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. Olson himself was on Fox News Sunday, rebutting the claim that Walker is an “activist judge.”
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Conservative writer Meghan McCain tweeted on the night of the ruling “Amazing news about prop 8!!! I have faith we are one step closer to gay marriage being passed in this country!!” Meghan’s mother, Cindy McCain, spoke out against Proposition 8 earlier this year.
Margaret Hoover, the great-granddaughter of former President Herbert Hoover, took to Fox News on Monday, to argue “When an unpopular minority is denied the right to marry, it is indeed the role of the courts to protect the rights of that minority, especially when a majority would deny them.” Hoover, a self-identified conservative Republican, writes “The potential consequence that conservatives land on the wrong side of civil rights history again is the alienation of an entire generation of voters.”
And former Bush speechwriter David Frum wrote on CNN that Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston pose a greater threat to our culture than granting marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples would. Although he does predict that Walker’s decision will be overturned, and he never says whether he supports the ruling, Frum argues that opponents of marriage for gay and lesbian couples are wrong to claim it will lead to the breakdown of marriage for straight couples.
But many prominent conservatives (like David Brooks, or even Dick Cheney) who are known to support marriage for same-sex couples, have yet to address Judge Walker’s ruling. We’ll be watching to see if they do.