POLITICS

Marilyn Musgrave, Gay Marriage Foe And Former GOP Rep., Denies Backing Gay Marriage Brief

02/27/2013 12:06 pm ET | Updated Feb 28, 2013

WASHINGTON -- A former Republican congresswoman who sponsored the Federal Marriage Amendment while in office denied signing an amicus brief arguing that gay marriage is a constitutional right after The New York Times erroneously reported that she had.

"I’m very befuddled by this story,” former Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.) told Fox 31 Denver. "There’s absolutely no truth to that. I’m reading it thinking, 'what in the world?'"

“I wasn’t even aware of it," she added. "I have not changed my position. I’m trying to imagine where anyone would get that information and I can’t figure it out.”

The New York Times issued a correction later Wednesday saying that only her former district director, former state Rep. B.J. Nikkel, had signed the brief.

Musgrave's supposed signature appeared to be a monumental coup for the gay rights movement, as she had previously called gay marriage the "most important issue that we face today" and had said it would lead to "polygamy or group marriage."

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is organizing the legal brief, which the Times reports has more than 100 signatories, ahead of the Supreme Court taking up the subject of same-sex marriage in late March. The court will hear oral arguments on the constitutionality of California's gay marriage ban, Proposition 8, and the Defense of Marriage Act.

Manny Rivera, a spokesman for AFER, confirmed to HuffPost that Musgrave did not sign the brief.

The document seems aimed at swinging Justice Anthony Kennedy -- a member of the court's conservative wing who has voted in favor of gay rights in the past -- by citing conservative rulings he voted in favor of, like the Citizens United case on campaign finance and District of Columbia v. Heller, which overturned the handgun ban in Washington, D.C.

UPDATE: 4:35 p.m. -- Sheryl Gay Stolberg, the New York Times reporter who wrote the story, explained what happened in an email.

"A former district director for Marilyn Musgrave signed the brief, but her title was so long that it actually took up two lines, pushing the congresswoman's name onto a line all by itself. So when you read down the list, it looked like Ms. Musgrave had signed -- when in fact she had not," she said. "Of course I was horrified at the mistake, but it was an honest one. I corrected immediately, called Ms. Musgrave and apologized, and she accepted."

"A good lesson in journalism: check everything twice, and we are only human," she said.

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