Prop 8 and Citizens United Super Lawyer
By Kristina Lapinski, January 21, 2014.
Just below the surface, politics is a horribly messy entangled web of personalities, egos, and conflicting interests with an ultimately mysterious and unknowable truth buried at the center. Whatever happens behind closed doors and the true motives of those in power can only be theorized and never truly known, and the mysterious chain of cause and effect all too often appears as a simplified Shakespearean performance on a national political stage, whose characters are further masked by make-up and edited for digestible TV sound bytes.
On the surface, the Prop 8 lawsuit appeared to be a relatively simple case- 2 couples/ 4 plaintiffs seeking marriage equality, led by the all-star legal team Ted Olson and David Boies, bankrolled by Hollywood celebrities, with then AFER President and now HRC President Chad Griffin at the helm, coming together to take on Proposition 8, the California constitutional amendment which defined marriage as between one man and one woman.
The highly publicized case made it all the way to the United States Supreme Court, where marriage equality for the state of California was essentially upheld on a technicality. All said and done, it was a rousing success, bringing joy to the LGBT community in California and allies across the nation.
But there is one player in this fight who has always bothered me, whose chain of “cause and effect” has always felt like an ironic and paradoxical smack of messy political realities.
Flash back 2000: The Supreme Court is deciding the fate of the country and who will take the reigns of power in the infamous case of Bush v. Gore. George Bush was represented by Ted Olson, and Al Gore represented by David Boies.
The self identified conservative Ted Olson, in one of the most contentious races of all time, and with the help of the Supremes, delivered his client the Presidency of the United States of America.
The chain of events plays in my mind as follows:
- Ted Olson delivers George W. Bush the Presidency -(the man who stole the election to start with, royally screws the country, launching the United States and other countries into an unnecessary war, based on lies);
- Bush delivers a 2004 State of the Union address, pandering to his Radical Right constituency by promising a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage;
- San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsom, attending the State of the Union as Speaker Pelosi’s guest, is so incensed at Bush’s promise, that when he returns home to San Francisco, he opens the doors of City Hall for same-sex couples to get married;
- The Radical Right in California reacts against Mayor Newsom and launches the Proposition 8 ballot initiative; and
- AFER challenges Proposition 8 in the Courts, Chad Griffin hires Ted Olson as lead counsel (a full circle WTF moment).
And now for the “What If,” an alternative chain of events, I wish had happened, which would take Ted Olson out of the picture:
- David Boies wins the case and Al Gore becomes President;
- The country actually does something about global warming and bonus we never go to war, thousands of lives spared; and
- National marriage equality is achieved much sooner through a more liberal Supreme Court.
Okay, ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda.’ And now to my point, how can we make a hero of Ted Olson when this was all partly his fault to begin with?
Not to mention the fact that he is STILL a conservative, AND was a major architect of that horrible Citizens United case (the one that allows unlimited political contributions from corporations effectively robbing our democracy.)
Ted Olson gave a few great sound bytes to the national media, gave his all to the Proposition 8 case, notwithstanding his million dollar fees, and he becomes the nice guy… but I am reluctant to call him a hero by any stretch of the imagination.
With “The Case Against 8” now playing at Sundance and all the accolade, I began to wonder how the ‘hero’ Ted Olson would be preserved for posterity and portrayed to the masses, to the people who haven’t connected an insidious chain of events.
Lest we forget that nothing ever is as it seems.
More about filmmaker, Kristina Lapinski, from GAY U.S.A. the Movie.