February 26th, 2013
10:41 AM ET
10 years ago

Top Republicans sign brief supporting same-sex marriage

(CNN) - As the Supreme Court gets ready to hear cases on same-sex marriage next month, dozens of high-profile Republicans have signed onto a brief in a show of support for gay couples to legally wed.

The amicus or “friend of the court” legal brief, first reported by the New York Times, includes signatures by close advisers to former President George W. Bush as well as former governors and two members of Congress.

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Next month, the Supreme Court will hear two separate oral arguments on challenges to Proposition 8, the voter-approved same-sex marriage ban in California, as well as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 congressional law that says for federal purposes, marriage is defined as only between one man and one woman.

Because of DOMA, certain benefits–such as federal tax, Social Security, pension, and bankruptcy benefits–do not apply to gay and lesbian couples legally married in those states that allow such unions.

Ana Navarro, Republican strategist and CNN contributor, was one of the signatories of the amicus brief, which is aimed to influence conservative justices on the high court. As of Monday night, the brief had 75 signatures.

"I'm not going to discuss the brief in respect to the Court, but on the issue itself, equality is something I deeply believe in," Navarro said. "Denying that the issue of marriage equality has changed, is being on the wrong side of history and on the wrong side of love and commitment."

The legal brief is at odds with the Republican Party's platform, which opposes same-sex marriage and defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The legalization of same-sex marriage in nine states (and Washington, D.C.) has been "an assault on the foundations of our society," according to the GOP 2012 platform. Same-sex marriage, the platform reads, challenges an "institution which, for thousands of years in virtually every civilization, has been entrusted with the rearing of children and the transmission of cultural values."

But the Republican opposition effort, in part spearheaded by former RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, who also served in the Bush administration, argues that same-sex marriage aligns with the party's family values by creating a two-parent home for children. It also promotes conservative staples such as "limited government and maximizing individual freedom," the Times reports.

Former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman is one of the names on the list, a Republican source familiar with the brief confirmed. While he stated support for civil unions during his unsuccessful White House bid for the 2012 election, he did not come out in favor of same-sex marriage until he penned an op-ed last week for the American Conservative Union.

"Conservatives should start to lead again and push their states to join the nine others that allow all their citizens to marry," Huntsman wrote. "There is nothing conservative about denying other Americans the ability to forge that same relationship with the person they love."

Other names inked on the brief, according to the Republican source, include former California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Rep. Richard Hanna of New York, former Rep. Deborah Pryce of Ohio, former Bush Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, former Bush National Security Adviser Steve Hadley and former Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey.

Interestingly, certain top Republicans who have publicly expressed support for same-sex marriage–such as former first lady Laura Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell–were not on the list, the Times reported.

READ MORE: Laura Bush: Take me out of pro-gay marriage ad

Recent polling reflects the trend that same-sex marriage is starting to gain support, even among Republicans. According to CBS News Poll released earlier this month, 54% of Americans, including nearly a third of Republicans, said same-sex couples should have the legal right to marry, while 39% said they should not be allowed to do so.

However, a stronger majority–61%–said that decision should be left to the states, while 29% said the federal government should have that authority.

The issue is widely expected to see intense debate this year as the Supreme Court makes decisions on DOMA and Proposition 8. The Obama administration set the scene for the upcoming showdown when it declared DOMA unconstitutional last week.

"Moral opposition to homosexuality, though it may reflect deeply held personal views, is not a legitimate policy objective that can justify unequal treatment of gay and lesbian people" contained in the DOMA law, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli said in the Justice Department's legal brief.

- CNN's Paul Steinhauser, Kevin Bohn, Bill Mears, and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. much thunder.little rain

    just like rome ...america rots from with in....

    February 26, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  2. Sniffit

    "It will be a long way back to sanity when this idiot finally goes by the wayside."

    Sorry, but yo and the rest of the GOP/Teatrolls are too far gone to make it back. Enjoy your trip.

    February 26, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    I think both laws should be struck down. Proposition 8 should be struck down simply because of the process used to enact it into law. Referendums are for school budgets, term limits, and other issues. Civil rights should NEVER be put onto a referendum. Allowing the majority to decide the civil rights of the minority is not democracy.

    DOMA should be struck down because no argument supporting it can be put forth that is not theologically based, which means any such arguments violate the 1st Amendment of freedom of religion. People forget that "freedom OF religion" also means "freedom FROM feligion". It a same sex aetheist couple wishes to get married, who am I to stop them. Just because I don't like or agree with it does not give me the right to interfere with their pursuit of happiness. Are you listening christian conservatives?

    February 26, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  4. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I don't understand why this is such a problem. If there is no protection for different counters for Blacks and Whites, then why should there be a prevention of this?

    @much thunder - this isn't the thing that led to the down fall of Rome. It is much more complicated than that. There was corruption among the senators and businesses just to start. They didn't act ethically between themselves.

    February 26, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    "People forget that "freedom OF religion" also means "freedom FROM feligion".

    What did that Republican icon Charlton Heston say... "from my cold dead hands" ... or some other such nonsense? At any rate, hopefully I'll be long dead before I'm forced to follow the Christian right-wing's version of their Jesus based on intolerance ... hate thy neighbor ... standing in awe of a God who issues His Heavenly bliss message of the day toting an AK47 (or whatever they call it these days) ... just in case we aren't listening.

    February 26, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  6. CB FL

    Very well said Rudy!

    February 26, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  7. Fair is Fair

    "Referendums are for school budgets, term limits, and other issues. Civil rights should NEVER be put onto a referendum."
    Marriage is not a "civil right".

    February 26, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  8. Jsaseen1

    About time. Is the GOP finally beginning to enter the 21st century?

    February 26, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  9. Al-NY,NY

    Not one current GOP'er that would incur the wrath of the American Taliban has signed it (at least that I know of). These signees have no stake in future careers so they can now say what they want. I want to hear Rubio, Rand Paul, Chrispy Chreme, Perry, et al come out and say this. THEN it will hold some sway. Until then, the GOP platform of hatred and persecution is still in effect

    February 26, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  10. Ozzie

    Republicans supporting Marriage Equality. As a key arm of the Republican Party, what's the Catholic Hierarchy going to do now?

    February 26, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  11. Madisongal

    Total embarrassment to say the least. The GOP insiders have done quite enough damage by diluting their principles in their wishful thinking that it will get them to be liked by the Washington insiders. That's why the people are turning their backs on them and embracing grassroot conservative candidates like those of the Tea Party.

    February 26, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  12. Darryl

    I will NEVER TRUST anything that comes out of the mouths of ANY REPUBLICAN. They LIE and DECIEVE americans any time they can. The EXTREME views on every level are obvious and have been for the last 4 plus years. The U.S has changed and the people of this country want to move-on, forward for a better future. They just can't accept change and will continue to try and trick people with their public display of FALSE statements supporting any liberal so called agenda. It's all about POWER and CONTROL. AS long as they have NONE they will only have an audiance of uneducated parts of society and people who stiil think it's possible to still live in the times of Leave It To Beaver Days of the 1950s. Good Luck Republicans, there's MORE educated people now that can see right through all the smoke and mirrors.

    February 26, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  13. Theresa

    Churches are private organizations. If they don't want to marry or even recognize gays they don't have to. However, the country is NOT private and everyone living here has the right to pursue happiness.

    February 26, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  14. Joi Gibson

    Dare I say it – there might be hope after all for some folks.

    February 26, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  15. Larry in Houston

    people like colin & laura agrees + they even have spoken out regarding this issue. But they don't want to cause any waves in their "party" – – that's why they want to be out of the spot light, so to speak.

    February 26, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  16. TurnTheTide

    Rudy NYC nailed it. It's strange that so many 'conservatives' are against gay marriage. Their ethos is one of maximizing personal liberties and minimizing State control. To take the opposite stand on moral issues (which, by their very nature are entirely subjective) is perplexing. Even religious conservatives should not resist gay marriage. By doing so, they betray their convictions and faith in God's ability to be the judge of proper behavior. Forcing people to conform to your religious code prevents the choice necessary to be judged for it.

    February 26, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    Marriage is not a "civil right".
    Pursuit of happiness is a civil right, and so is freedom FROM someone else's religion. If christian conservatives had any genuine chirtianity about themselves they would realize something right away. "It's in God's hands."

    February 26, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  18. Ferathka

    Looks like the sane Republican Moderates are starting to push back against the takeover of the GOP by the religious right and Teaparty crazies. Good Job. Get back to your core message and stay away from social issues which make you look dumb.

    February 26, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  19. Don't blame me, I'm Obama!

    Because your moral fabric has "evolved", and I still believe marriage is between a man and woman, how does that make you right. Your "changed" views doesnt mean I must let my morald follow you into the ditch. Gays have rights and should not be discriminated against, but not marriage as defined m v w..

    February 26, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  20. Manti

    Darryl you hit the nail on the head. Bravo.

    February 26, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  21. Fair is Fair

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    Marriage is not a "civil right".
    Pursuit of happiness is a civil right, and so is freedom FROM someone else's religion. If christian conservatives had any genuine chirtianity about themselves they would realize something right away. "It's in God's hands."
    You know something, Rudy? I don't care one bit about what people do in their private lives. In fact, I'e said all along that I thought this should be brought before the supreme court and have it settled once and for all. BUT, Rudy... you referred to i as a "civil right" and it most definitely is NOT... gay OR straight.

    February 26, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |