Jean Podrasky, John Roberts’s lesbian cousin, will attend Prop 8 hearing

Among the guests at Tuesday's Supreme Court hearing on California's anti-gay marriage law will be Jean Podrasky, a cousin of Chief Justice John Roberts -- and a San Francisco lesbian who hopes to marry her partner. The L.A. Times reports:

Podrasky lives in San Francisco and usually sees Roberts only on family occasions. His mother is her godmother, whom she adores. She said Roberts knows she is gay and introduced her along with other relatives during his Senate confirmation hearing. She hopes he will meet her partner of four years, Grace Fasano, during their Washington visit. The couple flew to Washington on Sunday.

“He is a smart man,” she said. “He is a good man. I believe he sees where the tide is going. I do trust him. I absolutely trust that he will go in a good direction.”

Podrasky attended Roberts' 2005 confirmation hearings as well. Fortune magazine asked her if she had discussed the marriage issue with her cousin. "I really would never disrespect him by asking him about his cases," she replied.

About a third of people who have changed their minds on gay marriage say they did so because they have a friend, family member, or personal acquaintance who is gay, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) announced his support for gay marriage earlier this month, a shift provoked by his son's homosexuality. Former vice president Dick Cheney similarly endorsed gay unions after his daughter came out.

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments Tuesday on California's Proposition 8 and Wednesday on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which bans federal recognition of legally married same-sex couples. Supporters of gay marriage note that Roberts' past decisions offer few clues as to where he will fall, although as a lawyer the conservative justice helped gay activists win a significant anti-bias ruling.

The Post's Robert Barnes explains that in both of this week's cases Roberts will have to balance his conservatism against his concern for the court's long-term influence on in issue where public opinion has shifted rapidly.

“He particularly may look for a way to avoid ruling against gay marriage in these cases, ” New York University law professor Barry Friedman told The Post, “even if he is not prepared to rule for it.”

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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Rachel Weiner · March 25, 2013