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Wedding bell (Old) Blues:
Yalies in the gay-marriage cases

From Bill Clinton ’73JD, who signed the Defense of Marriage Act as US president in 1996, to David Boies ’66LLB, who challenged California's ban on gay marriage, Yale alumni have played active roles in the historic cases decided today by the US Supreme Court.

There are the lawyers, of course: Boies, co-counsel in Perry v. Hollingsworth, the case that knocked down California's Proposition 8; Chris Dusseault ’91, who acted as "field marshal" for the Prop 8 trial in 2010; US Solicitor General Donald Verrilli ’79, representing the Obama administration in both cases before the Supreme Court.

There are the justices: Clarence Thomas ’74JD and Samuel Alito ’75JD, dissenting in Perry and in US v. Windsor, which struck down DOMA; and Sonia Sotomayor ’79JD, who sided with the majority in the DOMA case but joined the dissent on Prop 8.

There is Yale historian George Chauncey ’77, ’89PhD, an expert witness against Proposition 8 at the San Francisco trial, testifying about the country's long history of discrimination against gays and lesbians. (Chauncey's 2009 article about Yale's transformation from homophobic campus to "the Gay Ivy" is here.)

And there's oodles of commentary. Two quick examples: Yale Law professor Bill Eskridge ’78JD, a leading theorist of gay rights, says the rulings are "the gay marriage movement's Cinderella moment . . .  the big legal turning point."

Maggie Gallagher ’82, cofounder of the National Organization for Marriage, apparently agrees about the import, calling the DOMA decision "the Roe v. Wade of our generation." But in her view, Cinderella's glass slipper is entirely unfit: "The combined result of these two decisions," she writes, "is profoundly lawless."

Filed under US Supreme Court, gay marriage
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