Conservative readers of Robert Barnes's article in Monday's Washington Post may wonder if they've wandered into the Twilight Zone. He spotlights Theodore B. Olson, a former member of Reagan's Department of Justice widely recognized as the man who convinced the Supreme Court to stop the Florida vote recount in 2000, effectively awarding the presidency to George W. Bush. Despite his status as a legal golden-boy in right-wing circles, Olson is shown departing from the conservative fold with his crusade to overturn California's Proposition 8 and establish a constitutional right for same-sex marriage.
The two gay families he represents are "the nicest people on the planet." He believes to his core that discrimination because of sexual orientation "is wrong and it's hurtful, and I never could understand it." He knows some worry that the lawsuit is premature, "but civil rights are not won by people saying, 'Wait until the right time.' "This fight, Olson told the law students gathered on a spring evening in the luxe D.C. offices of his firm, Gibson, Dunn and Cruthcher, "is the most compelling, emotionally moving, important case that I have been involved in in my entire life."
Despite Olson's announcement in January's Newsweek that he would be joining his former Bush v. Gore nemesis David Boies in fighting Proposition 8, the acceleration in the campaign has amplified bafflement among conservatives. As Barnes reports, "Paul D. Clement, who was Olson's deputy as solicitor general and then took over the job, said conservatives have 'come to terms' with Olson's decision; but those who never understood it are still scratching their heads.'"