by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Staff Writer
After publicly questioning the wisdom of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the federal lawsuit challenging California's same-sex marriage ban, three Gay-friendly legal groups have asked to be a part of the case. The reception they got from the activists behind the case was essentially 'thanks, but no thanks.'
The three legal organizations, The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights submitted paperwork saying they want to represent Gay community groups in the proceeding. The newly formed political group funding the case, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, is opposing the request.
In a letter to the legal groups sent July 8, board President Chad Griffin said the show of solidarity was not needed since the same groups originally criticized a federal civil rights claim by saying it was premature.
"You have unrelentingly and unequivocally acted to undermine this case even before it was filed. Considering this, it is inconceivable that you would zealously and effectively litigate this case if you were successful in intervening," said Griffin. "Therefore, we will vigorously appose any notion to intervene."
Griffin explained that getting more lawyers involved would delay and unnecessarily complicate the proceeding. He did say, however, that the groups were welcome to continue participating as consultants.
U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker has put the Proposition 8 challenge on a fast track to trial, but it is unclear when the judge would rule on the motion naming the three community groups as parties to the case.
The fallout from the California Supreme Court's ruling on Proposition 8 set off disagreements within the LGBT community over what strategy would be best for revising the measure; the American Foundation for Equal Rights found two high-profile lawyers, Ted Olson and David Boies, to take on the lawsuit. Immediately after the announcement of the federal lawsuit ACLU, Lambda, and NCLR criticized it by arguing that the way to strike down Proposition 8 was through California voters.
Larry Kramer, a playwright, author, public health advocate and LGBT rights activist, sent a scathing letter to the three organizations, imploring them to not interfere with the case. Kramer, who founded ACT UP and has over 30 years of experience in the Gay movement, shot right to the point, telling the groups "you will only botch up what [Olsen and Boies] are trying to achieve."
Kramer said the three legal organizations were "behaving in the worst possible bitchy way." He asked them, "Keep your noses out of it, will you please?"
Jennifer Pizer, Lambda Legal's national marriage director, disagrees, saying the organization's full participation is vital.
"We think it will be very helpful to Judge Walker and the ultimate resolution of the questions in the case for the litigation to have the benefit of the presence of the community in all its diversity," she said.
The three legal organizations are the same ones that have long led the effort to legalize same-sex marriage in California.
Still, Griffin protests any interference by the ACLU, Lambda, or NCLR, telling them, "Given our willingness to collaborate with you, and your efforts to undercut this case, we were surprised and disappointed when we became aware of your desire to intervene."
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