Has the GOP finally changed its stance on gay marriage? Not as a whole, but more than 100 Republican officials are voicing their support for same-gender-marriage rights. This week, they signed a brief seeking to persuade the Supreme Court to strike down Proposition 8, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and similar same-gender-marriage bans.
More than 200 corporations also have filed a separate brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn DOMA. These companies include: Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Boehringer Ingelheim, Boston Scientific, Ernst & Young, Exelon, Johnson & Johnson, Marriott International, MassMutual, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Microsoft, New York Life, The Ogilvy Group, Pfizer, State Street Corporation, Xerox and The Walt Disney Company.
The Republicans' brief presents the Supreme Court justices with a detailed argument about the discrimination Prop 8 and DOMA inflict. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear cases on Prop 8 and DOMA legislation starting next week, with a final decision expected before the summer. The rulings on these two major cases could impact nationally the definition of marriage and same-gender couples' right to wed, as previously reported by DiversityInc. Both legislations define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Legal experts say the brief could help sway conservative Supreme Court justices in favor of striking down the same-gender-marriage bans, especially in light of the prominent names on the list. These include:
- Theodore B. Olson, Solicitor General under President George W. Bush and co-counsel in the Prop 8 lawsuit
- Meg Whitman, former Prop 8 supporter and one-time candidate for Governor of California who now is the President and CEO of HP
- Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Florida)
- Congressman Richard Hanna (New York)
- Stephen J. Hadley, National Security Adviser under Bush
- Carlos Gutierrez, Commerce Secretary under Bush and former Chairman and CEO of Kellogg Company
- James B. Comey, Deputy Attorney General under Bush
- David A. Stockman, Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan
- Deborah Pryce, former eight-term Congresswoman and Chair of the House Republican Conference
"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 Chairman of the Republican National Committee, told The New York Times. Mehlman, who is out as gay, serves on the board of the American Foundation for Equal Rights.
There have been sweeping changes in public attitudes toward same-gender unions in the past few years—49 percent of Americans now agree that states should allow same-sex marriage, according to a Pew Research Center poll. This is up from just 39 percent in 2008.