Just a Case of "Lawyerly Ego"?
BY Andrew Gumbel
July 14 2009 12:00 AM ET
The leader of one of the three LGBT rights groups who have butted heads with the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit to overturn California's Prop. 8 insisted today that the movement to promote same-sex marriage is not about to fall apart -- even as she charged the organization behind the lawsuit with throwing "baffling" and "ludicrous" accusations at her and her fellow activists.
Kate Kendell, the executive director of the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights, vigorously defended a motion to intervene in the lawsuit which she filed last Thursday alongside Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union.
The ostensible purpose of the motion is to open the case to a wider variety of gay and lesbian experiences than those of the four named plaintiffs, and thus provide U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker with more of the evidence he says he seeks as a basis for both his own ruling and also future appellate rulings.
The three LGBT rights groups acted, however, against the will of the plaintiffs and their superstar team of lawyers headed by Ted Olson and David Boies. Even before the motion was filed, Chad Griffin of the American Foundation for Equal Rights -- the organization behind the lawsuit -- wrote a letter accusing Lambda, NCLR, and the ACLU of seeking to undermine the Olson-Boies team's efforts with their intervention and so diminish their chances of success.
Kendell insisted that was nonsense. "The letter is baffling," she told Advocate.com. "The accusation that we would be somehow in a case with such enormously high stakes for our community to lose the case, or diminish its chances of success, is so ludicrous as to be difficult to take seriously.
"Our entire collective history has been about an unfettered commitment to winning equalityâ€¦ in every venue and by any means possible, and we bring that same steadfast dedication to this lawsuit. We are seeking to intervene for one reason and one reason only, and that is to increase the likelihood of success."
Many supporters of marriage equality have reacted with alarm at the very public disagreement over the federal lawsuit, and some of the movement's leaders have worried privately that one or both sides is choosing to put its own institutional interest before the bigger goal of achieving marriage equality as quickly and as smoothly as possible.