The politics of gay marriage in America are notoriously complicated: liberal President Barack Obama is against, while arch-conservative former VP Dick Cheney (whose daughter is a lesbian) is for. But that still hasn’t prevented rumour, conspiracy-mongering and outright astonishment at the news that Ted Olson—who successfully argued before the Supreme Court the 2000 election case that put George W. Bush in the White House. “For conservatives who don’t like what I’m doing, it’s, ‘If he just had someone in his family we’d forgive him,’ ” Olson said. “For liberals it’s such a freakish thing that it’s, ‘He must have someone in his family, otherwise a conservative couldn’t possibly have these views.’ It’s frustrating that people won’t take it on face value.” For Olson, the face value is obvious. The ban on same-sex unions is just another example of the government-enforced discrimination he has devoted his career to fighting, and he’s taking on the gay rights issue with the same conviction he brought to legal battles against affirmative-action policies.