Cocktails had been served on the terrace, the ubiquitous Washington buffet of tenderloin and salmon consumed, and the gay law students settled in to hear from the famed legal mind who is leading the battle to make sure they have the right to marry whomever they want, wherever in the United States of America they live.
But first, an introduction: The assembled were reminded of Theodore B. Olson’s sterling conservative credentials; about his loyal service in President Ronald Reagan’s Justice Department; that he was President George W. Bush’s solicitor general; that perhaps the crowning achievement in his gaudy career as a Supreme Court advocate was persuading five justices to stop the vote counting in Florida in the 2000 election and acknowledge that Bush had won.
So far, so quiet.
But then Olson took the microphone, and began to describe 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.”