Ted Olson's Wife: 'The Liberal Behind the Conservative Fighting for Gay Marriage'

The conservative lawyer was compelled by his "vivacious" wife to fight the conservatives: "He would have never been able to take the other side...He wouldn't have had a wife after that!"
New York Times reporter Ashley Parker told a story of "When Opposites Influence," or another headline could have been "When Conservatives Convert." It was the love story of Ted Olson and his wife of almost four years, Lady Booth Olson. The "bespectacled conservative" power-lawyer met a "vivacious, life-long registered Democrat," and sparks flew. She was only designated as a liberal in the text box: "The liberal behind the conservative fighting for gay marriage."

The "met cute" story includes Mrs. Olson's disdain at his pro-Bush odor as she went to her VHS tapes of the Bush-Gore Supreme Court battle: "Like every nerdy lawyer, I'd taped them. I took them out and I remembered, 'Oh my God, he was Bush, not Gore,' so I called her back and said, 'This is not going to work.'"

Was she really that forgetful of which side Olson was on? Really? They married in October of 2006, and then suddenly he was ready for his moment in Gay Liberation History, as he proclaimed how "her ideas, her approach, her feelings" led him to the liberal side:

And less than three years later, Mrs. Olson found herself in the front row of a San Francisco courtroom for 11 days, watching her husband team up with his former adversary, the lawyer David Boies, to successfully overturn Proposition 8, the 2008 California ballot measure that outlawed same-sex marriage. (On Monday, a federal appeals court extended the stay on same-sex marriages in California until it decides whether a ban on such unions is constitutional.)

Lady Olson was more than just a minor behind-the-scenes player in this potentially pivotal case.

"Lady could not have been more supportive of this," Mr. Olson said in an interview shortly before Vaughn R. Walker, chief judge of the United States District Court hearing the case, ruled on Aug. 4 that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. "And she's certainly influenced my views - her ideas, her approach, her feelings."

When Mr. Olson teamed with Mr. Boise [sic] in 2009, much of the politerati was shocked to hear that the conservative stalwart was working alongside his former rival in Bush v. Gore, to defend the right of gays to marry. In fact, supporters of Proposition 8 had themselves tentatively approached Mr. Olson about arguing their side of the case.

But his wife said that anyone who knows him well - not to mention anyone who knows her at all - understands that for Mr. Olson and his fierce libertarian streak, gay marriage was an issue "of right and wrong, justice and injustice, and discrimination is something that offends at any time."

"He would have never been able to take the other side," she said, before adding with a laugh, "He wouldn't have had a wife after that!"

She continued: "After eight years of knowing Ted, I thought this is something I can jump into with two feet, really sink my teeth into, and we can do this together."

Parker just loaded on the positive adjectives. Mrs. Olson was not only "vivacious," and a self-described "overidealist," she was "an enthusiastic nerd" and the "type who giggles when she talks about tax policy." And most amazingly, "She's also a little press-shy." Not when she's drawing puff pieces like this.