One of the lead attorneys fighting the federal challenge to the state of California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage is helping to coach Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan to prepare for debates during upcoming US elections.
Theodore Olson, a Republican lawyer and supporter of marriage equality will stand in for the incumbent US Vice President Joe Biden during a series of behind-closed-doors mock debates with Ryan to prepare him for the real thing.
‘Joe Biden has been in elected office for more than 40 years. There are few people in politics with more experience debating the issues than Joe Biden, so we are taking this process seriously,’ a spokesman for the Ryan campaign told Politico.
‘Mr. Olson is one of the most skilled, intelligent, and successful litigators in America – just the kind of opponent needed to prepare the Congressman for Mr. Biden.’
Olson has reportedly already faced Ryan in one mock debate, with others to follow, while the Republicans are using Ohio Senator Rob Portman to stand in for President Barack Obama for mock debates with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Ryan and Biden are set to face each other in a real debate for the first time in the state of Kentucky on October 11.
Olson has been litigating against Proposition 8 on behalf of the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) alongside lawyer David Boies who squared up against Olson in the 2000 case of Bush v. Gore which decided the outcome of that year’s presidential election.
However Olson’s volunteering his time to coach Ryan has been criticised by Democratic LGBT caucus the National Stonewall Democrats.
‘After he has spent as much time, money, and reputation on overturning Prop 8 as he has, it’s shocking to learn that Ted Olson would lift a finger to help the Romney-Ryan ticket during debate prep,’ National Stonewall Democrats executive director Jerame Davis told the Washington Blade.
‘The Romney-Ryan ticket stands completely counter to the goals of AFER and Ted Olson’s stated belief that Prop 8 should be overturned. I have always been concerned that the architect of Bush v. Gore was one of the lead attorney’s in the fight to overturn Prop 8, but I honestly never expected Olson to so blatantly contradict his own argument by supporting a ticket that would stand squarely in opposition to what he calls one of the most important cases of his career.’
However LGBT Republican Group GOProud said it was not hypocritical for Olson to be working with candidates that supported a federal ban on same-sex marriage as it was unrealistic that such an initiative could pass.
‘Ted Olson, like most conservatives, is focused on defeating Barack Obama and rebuilding our economy, GOProud executive director Jimmy LaSalvia told the Blade.
‘The Federal Marriage Amendment didn’t have a chance of passing eight years ago, and it doesn’t have a prayer of passing now.’
Olson served as US Solicitor General from 2001 to 2004 under President George Bush Jr. and represented President Ronald Regan during hearings into the Iran-Contral scandal.