Over 100 prominent Republicans have signed a legal brief in support of gay marriage. The brief was submitted in advance of the oral arguments to be delivered to the Supreme Court on March 26 and March 27.
The friend of the court brief was organized by the American Foundation for Equal Rights and contains the signatures of some notable Republicans, some of whom are making their positions known for the first time and others who have switched positions since leaving office. The New York Times reports the brief “advances conservative values of ‘limited government and maximizing individual freedom.’”
Ken Mehlman, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a board member, says it is consistent with the values and philosophy of judicial and political conservatives.
The signatories to the amici curiae include former Republican governors, administrative and cabinet-level officials, and advisers. The friend of the court brief is in stark contrast to the official platform of the Republican Party. As the Times suggests, Republican officials seem to feel freer to speak out against the GOP party platform once they are out of public life.
Here’s a list of 10 Republicans and/or conservatives who have signed the brief supporting same-sex marriage.
1. Meg Whitman
The Hewlett-Packard CEO supported Proposition 8 when she ran for governor of California in 2010. Whitman explained her reversal of opinion came “after a period of careful review and reflection.” Whitman says she has “come to embrace same-sex marriage.”
“I support gay marriage because I am a conservative,” explained Whitman.
Whitman went on to say, “Laws like California’s Proposition 8 do not fortify traditional marriage; they merely prevent hundreds of thousands of children of same-sex couples from enjoying the benefits that accrue from marriage.” Whitman implied that her original support was based on her support of the people but that facts and arguments as well as social science studies had led her to “change her mind on the issue.”
2. Deborah Pryce
The retired congresswoman from Ohio is a former member of the House Republican leadership. She has said, “Like a lot of the country, my views have evolved on this from the first day I set foot in Congress. I think it’s just the right thing, and I think it’s on solid legal footing, too.”
3. Jon Huntsman, Jr.
During the 2012 presidential race, the former governor of Utah and 2012 Republican presidential candidate favored civil unions and opposed same sex marriage. In a piece for the American Conservative, Huntsman said, “While serving as governor of Utah, I pushed for civil unions and expanded reciprocal benefits for gay citizens. That was four years ago. Today we have an opportunity to do more.”
4. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.)
Lehtinen is one of two active Republican members of Congress supporting the brief. She is currently the most senior Republican woman in the U.S. House, and was the first Republican woman elected to the House of Representatives from Florida. She was also the first Hispanic woman, and the first Cuban American, to be elected to Congress. She is a founding member and vice-chairperson of the LGBT Equality Caucus. In 2011 Lehtinen became the first Republican in Congress to sponsor a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
5. Richard L. Hanna (R-N.Y.)
Hanna represents the 22nd Congressional District of New York. The district includes Utica, Rome, and Binghamton. He is a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee and the LGBT Equality Caucus. He and Rep. Lehtinen are the only two members of the Republican Party that belong to the caucus that have signed the brief. Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.) the other Republican member of the caucus has not signed the brief.
6. B. J. Nikkel
The New York Times notes, “Nikkel made national news last year when she became the only Republican on the Colorado House Judiciary Committee to vote in favor of same-sex civil unions. She previously worked as district director for Representative Marilyn Musgrave, a former congresswoman whose signature issue in Washington was banning same-sex marriage.”
7. Alex Castellanos
Castellanos is a political media consultant that makes frequent appearances on cable and Sunday news program. GQ magazine once ranked him as one of the 50 most powerful people in Washington. He has been a media consultant to every Republican presidential candidate in the last twenty years, including Bush, McCain and Romney. He has served as a Fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics, helped to elect nine senators and six governors and served as a media consultant to seven U.S. presidential campaigns.
As an adviser to Bob Dole, Castellanos is credited with the discovery of the political “soccer mom.” Castellanos has said a soccer mom is “the key swing consumer in the marketplace, and the key swing voter who will decide the election.”
8. Jane Swift
The former governor of Massachusetts was criticized by her gay stepson for opposing same-sex marriage. At the time, Swift explained, “in my mind, the sanctity of marriage requires that it be confined to marriage between a man and a woman.” Swift is one of many former elected officials that have changed their position now that they are no longer in office.
9. Tom Ridge
From 2003 to 2005, Ridge served as Secretary of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush. As governor of Pennsylvania he opposed gay marriage. Ridge signed the law banning gay marriage in Pennsylvania in 1996. As a businessman he has changed his position. Last year Ridge told the Wall Street Journal, “I think, as a party, we sometimes come across as very judgmental and very self-righteous.”
According to the WSJ, Ridge once said “he had no particular point of view” on same-sex marriage, stating “It’s one of those situations where I’d leave it up to the state.” He is now one of seven former Republican governors to sign the brief.
10. David Frum
Frum is a featured writer for The Daily Beast/Newsweek. He was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush. He is one of the most widely read, seen, and heard conservative pundits in North America. The Canadian-American has a bachelor of arts and master's degree in history from Yale and a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Harvard Law School. Writing for the Daily Beast, Frum states he has “been swayed by an intensifying awareness of the harm culture-war politics has done to my party.” Acknowedging that he had been a “longtime opponent of same-sex marriage,” Frum explains, “Treating same-sex partnerships differently from husband-wife marriages only serves to divide and antagonize those who ought to be working together.”
Citing his support for the amicus brief, Frum goes on to say “my thinking has been influenced by the fine example of the many committed, devoted same-sex couples I know.” Frum concludes “To stigmatize the aspirations of some Americans is to break faith with the ideals of all Americans.”