“To be on the verge of real equality for gay and lesbian citizens was unthinkable” just four years ago when we had Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and only 38 percent of the American public supported marriage equality, said Boies, who teamed up with former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson in 2010 to challenge the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage.
“It has been one of the most rapid of any civil rights movement in this country,” said Boies, who called the shift in sentiment a “bottom-up revolution,” noting that “more than 80 percent of citizens under the age of 30 support marriage equality.”
“Once we have people in positions of power who have grown up in this nondiscriminating generation, all of this will go away,” he surmised of the lingering resistance to measures aimed at advancing equal rights for the LGBT community.
But Boies doesn’t want to wait until then. “Our goal is to make [inequality] go away now so that the people who are being damaged, harmed, terribly harmed, deprived of some of the most basic rights that we all take for granted, like the right to marry the person you love, don’t have to continue to suffer.”
Boies believes the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in support of same-sex marriage. While the court has focused on marriage between a man and a woman, it has said 14 times in the last eight years that marriage is a fundamental right. “It’s such a fundamental right that you can’t deprive people of that right,” he reasoned.
“This is the defining civil rights struggle of our generation,” added Boies. “When we win this issue, we will have eliminated the last bastion of official discrimination by the government against its own citizens of this country.”
In 2011, Boies and Olson, who led the ABA Task Force on Preservation of the Justice System, were awarded the ABA Medal, the association’s highest honor.
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