Prominent Republicans sign brief in support of gay marriage

Dozens of former Republican officials submitted a brief in the Supreme Court's Prop 8 case

By Jillian Rayfield

Published February 26, 2013 2:09PM (EST)

In a brief submitted to the Supreme Court, dozens of prominent former Republican officials argued that gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry, and urged the Court to uphold a decision that struck down Proposition 8, California's ban on same-sex marriages.

From the New York Times:

The list of signers includes a string of Republican officials and influential thinkers — 75 as of Monday evening — who are not ordinarily associated with gay rights advocacy, including some who are speaking out for the first time and others who have changed their previous positions.

Among them are Meg Whitman, who supported Proposition 8 when she ran for California governor; Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Richard Hanna of New York; Stephen J. Hadley, a Bush national security adviser; Carlos Gutierrez, a commerce secretary to Mr. Bush; James B. Comey, a top Bush Justice Department official; David A. Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s first budget director; and Deborah Pryce, a former member of the House Republican leadership from Ohio who is retired from Congress.

Jon Huntsman, former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, and former Massachusetts Govs. William Weld and Jane Swift, also signed the brief.

“We are trying to say to the court that we are judicial and political conservatives, and it is consistent with our values and philosophy for you to overturn Proposition 8,” Ken Mehlman, former RNC chair and a current board member of the group that brought the lawsuit against Proposition 8, told the Times. Mehlman came out in 2010.

The brief highlights the growing split among Republicans over the best direction for the party, and how to deal with issues like gay marriage in which they are increasingly on the wrong side of public opinion. House Speaker John Boehner and other House Republicans have continued to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which bans same-sex marriages for the purposes of receiving federal benefits, long after the Obama Administration announced it would no longer defend the law in court. Republicans even authorized $3 million to be spent on the defense, which will culminate in Supreme Court arguments next month.

More recently, gay Republican groups were shut out of CPAC, the big conservative gathering taking place in Washington, D.C. in March, again this year.

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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Gay Marriage Jon Huntsman Ken Mehlman Meg Whitman Proposition 8 Republicans Supreme Court