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Top Attorneys Decry Civil Unions

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According to information at AFER's website, the American Foundation for Equal Rights is dedicated to protecting and advancing equal rights for every American, and is currently the only sponsor of the federal court challenge of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, a.k.a. California's Proposition 8. AFER's legal team, led by Theodore Olson and David Boies, seeks to demonstrate that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution by denying millions of people equal protection under the law.

According to Wikipedia.com, ''Proposition 8 (or the California Marriage Protection Act) was a ballot proposition and constitutional amendment passed in the November 2008 state elections. The measure added a new provision, Section 7.5 of the Declaration of Rights, to the California Constitution, which provides that ‘only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.'''


Excerpts from the op-ed are as follows, per the May 16th nydailynews.com article ''The civil union bait-and-switch: Compromise is far from true marriage equality'':

''Proponents of same-sex marriage are only a few weeks into a new effort to pass a marriage equality bill in New York State by the end of this year's legislative session, and already there are opposing voices offering civil unions as a potential "compromise." As lawyers from both sides of the aisle who have been entrusted with pursuing the law on behalf of the public, we can agree that this is simply not an acceptable legal alternative.''

''A civil union reflects a second-class status that fails to protect committed same-sex couples who choose to be married. This is not a Democratic or Republican issue; this is a matter of protecting the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under law for all Americans.''

''Time and time again, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that marriage is one of the most fundamental rights that we enjoy as Americans under the Constitution. It's a right older than the Bill of Rights and older than our political parties. It is the foundation of society. The time to grant the right of marriage to all New Yorkers is now.''

On Monday, according to the May 17th advocate.com article, ''Top Attorneys: No Civil Unions for N.Y.'', Republican New York state senator Mark Grisanti, was quoted as having told Capital Tonight that his vote would be against marriage equality ''if it were to come up to a vote today,''. Republican support is required in the chamber for the marriage equality bill. In 2009, the measure failed.

Currently, there is no civil union legislation on the table in New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying to pass a marriage equality bill by June. However, dissension on the issues has, and continues to brew due largely to a new civil union law in Delaware, as well as the introduction of similar legislation in Rhode Island recently. There, marriage equality did not get enough support in the legislature.

According to the advocate.com article, the issue contains to gain political steam; recently, ''some have hinted that a civil union bill would be an acceptable compromise for the Conservative Party of New York State, an influential player in some Republican races, which last week voted not to endorse any GOP lawmaker who supports marriage equality.''

Eric T. Schneiderman, as the Attorney General of New York State, is the highest ranking law enforcement officer for the State. Schneiderman spent 15 years in private practice as an attorney, and later as a partner at the firm of Kirkpatrick and Lockhart. He was also a public interest lawyer for many years. Additionally, he served in the New York State Senate as a leading reformer, according to information at Schneiderman's website.

Theodore B. Olson is one of the nation's premier appellate and United States Supreme Court advocates. Theodore B. Olson was Solicitor General of the United States from 2001-2004 and was Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice from 1981 to 1984. Except for these two periods of time, since 1965 he has been a lawyer with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Los Angeles and in Washington, D.C., where he is currently a partner and Co-Chair of the Appellate and Constitutional Law Group.

Olson has served as private counsel to Presidents Ronald W. Reagan and George W. Bush, in addition to serving those two Presidents in high-level positions in the Department of Justice. He has twice received the United States Department of Justice's Edmund J. Randolph Award, its highest award for public service and leadership. He has also been awarded the Department of Defense's highest civilian award for his advocacy in the courts of the United States, including the Supreme Court, on behalf of that Department, according to information at AFER's website.


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