Ros-Lehtinen, Prominent Conservatives Join Gay Marriage Court Fight

Tuesday, 26 Feb 2013 11:03 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Leading GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida has joined the call to legalize gay marriage.

She and Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., are among dozens of prominent conservatives — including four former governors and top advisers for former President George W. Bush — who have signed a legal brief that argues that gay couples have a constitutional right to wed.

The document shows just how far the Republican party has moved on the issue since November’s election when candidates for the GOP nomination each tried to outdo each other to voice opposition to any move toward legalizing same-sex unions.

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The legal document will be submitted this week to the U.S. Supreme Court to support a lawsuit that seeks to overturn Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage, reports The New York Times. The court is hearing arguments in March on that case and on another case challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Ros-Lehtinen was chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the last Congress and is one of the most influential women in the GOP caucus. She and Hanna were two of just three Republicans in the 104-member House LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) caucus in the last Congress. The third, New York’s Nan Hayworth, lost her seat in November.

Others among the 75 who put their name to the document include Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, who supported Proposition 8 when she ran as a Republican candidate for California governor.

Bush officials Stephen J. Hadley, who was a national security adviser, Carlos Gutierrez, a former commerce secretary, and James Comey, a top Justice Department official, also signed up, along with President Ronald Reagan’s first budget director, David Stockman, and Deborah Pryce, a retired former House Republican from Ohio.

Many people signing the document said it shows a shift in the country’s thinking as well as their own.

“Like a lot of the country, my views have evolved on this from the first day I set foot in Congress,” said Pryce. “I think it’s just the right thing, and I think it’s on solid legal footing, too.”

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who was in favor of civil unions but against same-sex marriage while running for president last year, is another signatory. Other former governors to sign on are Christie Todd Whitman of New Jersey and Bill Weld and Jane Swift, both of Massachusetts.

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Other high-profile Republicans who have come out in favor of same-sex marriage in the past, including former first lady Laura Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and ex-Secretary of State Colin Powell, have not yet added their names, however.

The document is in direct contrast with the Republican Party’s official platform, which calls for amending the Constitution to define marriage as being between a man and woman only, and reflects that a majority of Americans now favor allowing same-sex marriages.

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