Republicans sign document supporting gay marriage

The Iowa Supreme Court's consideration of a gay marriage bill rallied activists on both sides of the issue. (Liz Martin/AP/The Gazette)

As the Supreme Court of the United States gets set to hear arguments on California's Prop. 8, many prominent Republicans have voiced their opinions against the measure that seeks to ban gay marriage in California. The New York Times has the details.

Among them are Meg Whitman, who supported Proposition 8 when she ran for California governor; Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Richard Hanna of New York; Stephen J. Hadley, a Bush national security adviser; Carlos Gutierrez, a commerce secretary to Mr. Bush; James B. Comey, a top Bush Justice Department official; David A. Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s first budget director; and Deborah Pryce, a former member of the House Republican leadership from Ohio who is retired from Congress.

So far, 75 folks have signed the brief, which will be submitted to SCOTUS in advance of the Prop. 8 discussion. Many of them have not openly supported gay marriage in the past.

As for the document, it relies heavily on Supreme Court precedencts.

By contrast, the brief, shared with The New York Times by its drafters, cites past Supreme Court rulings dear to conservatives, including the Citizens United decision lifting restrictions on campaign financing, and a Washington, D.C., Second Amendment case that overturned a law barring handgun ownership.

“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,” said Ken Mehlman, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, who came out as gay several years ago.

While these things don't typically have a profound impact on SCOTUS rulings, some people who know these types of things are suggesting that this might be the exception, not the rule.

Experts say that amicus briefs generally do not change Supreme Court justices’ minds. But on Monday some said that the Republican brief, written by Seth P. Waxman, a former solicitor general in the administration of President Bill Clinton, and Reginald Brown, who served in the Bush White House Counsel’s Office, might be an exception.

Tom Goldstein, publisher of Scotusblog, a Web site that analyzes Supreme Court cases, said the amicus filing “has the potential to break through and make a real difference.”

To read more about who has/hasn't signed the document and what it means for the Republican Party, check out the full New York Times piece.