Thursday, August 19, 2010

When Opposites Influence

New York Times
August 18, 2010

No dating Web site worth its salt would have matched the couple: A bespectacled conservative Washington power-lawyer in his 60s and a vivacious, lifelong registered Democrat from Kentucky 20 years his junior.

But that’s exactly what happened when two different friends set up Theodore B. Olson, the former United States solicitor general who in 2000 argued the Supreme Court election case that helped put George W. Bush in the White House, with Lady Booth.

“As soon as my friend told me who he was, I went out and got the tapes,” said the woman who is now Lady Booth Olson, referring to the VHS recordings she’d made of C-SPAN’s audio broadcast of Bush v. Gore. “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.’ ”

But after a first date at L’Auberge Chez François just outside Washington, a second date at the Kentucky Derby, and a rainy bike ride in the Wisconsin wilderness where his glasses became all fogged up and she grilled him on affirmative action — “That’s where we worked it all out in the woods,” she said — Mrs. Olson realized that, at age 41, she’d found an unlikely partner. The two married four and a half years after that first date.

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.)