On this day: Nixon Ambassador & same-sex marriage advocate

Rita Hauser Nixon
Rita Hauser with US President Richard Nixon

On August 20, 1970, syndicated columnist and lawyer Ernest Cuneo explained to Americans that Rita Hauser, President Nixon’s Ambassador to the UN Commission on Human Rights, was wrong when she described bans on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. While the Supreme Court eventually proved Rita Hauser right, her advocacy for same-sex marriage cost her a seat on that same court.

Rita Hauser was no radical. She was establishment through and through — lawyer, Republican fundraiser, a wife and mother, and longtime supporter of Richard Nixon.

Just three years before, the US Supreme Court issued the Loving v. Virginia decision striking down state laws that banned interracial marriage. Then, in June 1970, Reverend Troy Perry married two women in Los Angeles.

Reporters asked Nixon’s press secretary what the president thought about same-sex marriage.

“He hasn’t been for it, he’s not for it, and he won’t be for it.”

At the time, Nixon was considering appointing the first ever woman to the Supreme Court. Rita Hauser topped his list.

But then Rita Hauser delivered her speech to an American Bar Association forum. She described laws banning marriage between two people of the same sex as unconstitutional. She also suggested same-sex marriage could help alleviate overpopulation.

“I know of no better of accomplishing this than marriage between the same sexes.”

That’s too far

Nixon later told his Chief Domestic Advisor John Ehrlichman that Ruta Hauser’s comments on same-sex marriage cost her a nomination to the Supreme Court.

“There goes a Supreme Court justice. I can’t go that far [same-sex marriage]. That’s the year 2000. Negroes [and whites] — OK, but that’s too far.”

Rita Hauser nevertheless enjoyed a distinguished career in law. In 1988, she famously convinced the Palestine Liberation Organization to renounce violence.

In 2007, she described herself as a Rockefeller Republican — someone of more moderate views than those espoused by the Republican Party in recent years. The following year, she supported the presidential campaign of Democrat candidate Barack Obama.

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