How can Ted Olson look himself in the mirror without cringing? Many in the LGBT community were concerned when Olson took on the California case seeking to overturn Proposition 8 and its ban on marriage equality. They wondered how such an ultra-conservative and supporter of the Republican Party and George Bush could suddenly become an icon in the fight for marriage equality.
But the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) convinced the community that Olson really believed in what he was doing and was not just taking on such a high-profile case to add luster to his legal resume. Well today we have our answer. Ted Olson may be a good lawyer, but at heart he is still a right-wing conservative willing to support and enable candidates who have sworn to fight against the civil and human rights of the LGBT community. By helping Paul Ryan, an anti-gay rights candidate who is diametrically opposed to what Olson said he believes, Olson has unveiled a side of himself that many people believe is the true Ted Olson. Instead of being honored by both sides in this battle, men like Olson should be shunned.
I understand that good people can disagree on foreign and domestic policy. These debates can be had in good faith with respect for each other’s opinions. We can and must compromise on many issues if the nation is to move forward. But on human and civil rights there can be no compromise. Here we must rely on people’s basic belief in the morality of right and wrong. No compromise should be acceptable to decent honorable people. Civil rights, not to be confused with or impinging on the right to practice one’s religion, must be non-negotiable. These are rights that our government must guarantee equally to all its citizens.
Olson now supports and works for a party whose leaders have sworn to deny those rights. They have signed a document supporting a constitutional amendment — the first to enshrine discrimination — stating that civil marriage in our nation is only for one man and one woman.
Some have claimed Olson could use his time to convince Ryan to change his mind. That is absurd since we know that Ryan has made his political career as a right-wing ideologue catering to those who support and fund hate groups like the Family Research Council. How can Olson, who worked with AFER to fight the legal battle over Prop 8, be so two-faced?
Olson and AFER received national publicity and the thanks that came with winning that case. But today we see what is in his heart. It must be assumed that when Olson looks himself in the mirror each night he sees two images — one receiving a pat on the back for being a good lawyer, the other a pat on the back for supporting ideologues who will have the power to undue what he won.
Olson was clearly not the only lawyer that could have won the case and in fact he didn’t do it alone but with the help of David Bois. Many other attorneys could have worked with AFER but they determined Olson would garner them plenty of publicity and money and they were right. Today they must look into their hearts and wonder about that decision.
We must never accept apologists for the Republican ticket who say, “Don’t worry the constitutional amendment can’t pass,” or “Romney isn’t really as bad as he seems after all he could flip-flop on his positions again.” We must take people like Romney and Ryan at their word and when we do we must also see Olson for who he really is: a man helping to continue to fight against the civil and human rights of the LGBT community. He is helping those who would move us backwards. He has joined those on the wrong side of history and is now an example of hypocrisy of the worst kind.