Ted Olson and David Boies -- who argued on opposite sides in the legal battle that settled the election between George W. Bush and Al Gore -- announced their federal lawsuit at a press conference in Los Angeles.
The development came one day after California's Supreme Court upheld a voter-approved ban on gay marriage known as Proposition 8, a decision that outraged activists and sparked angry protests across the state.
The suit -- filed on behalf of two same-sex couples -- argues that the California referendum which redefined marriage in the state as unions between men and women only was a violation of the United States constitution.
Olson, a noted conservative who served as US Solicitor General for Bush between 2001-2004, said the lawsuit sought to give gay and lesbian couples equality.
"For too long, gay men and lesbians who seek stable, committed, loving relationships within the institution of marriage have been denied that fundamental right that the rest of us freely enjoy," Olson told reporters.
Boies, whose other high profile cases have included the Microsoft monopoly case, added: "This lawsuit is about the courts saying that no matter how blind people may be, the constitution guarantees that everyone deserves the equal rights that every human being is entitled to."
The complaint filed in US District Court in Los Angeles also seeks an injunction against Proposition 8 until their case is resolved.
If the injunction is successful it would reinstate marriage rights for same-sex couples in California.
California has witnessed a bruising battle over same-sex marriage in the past 12 months which has seen activists on both sides of the debate swing between joy and despair.
The state's highest court voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in May last year, a decision which sent an estimated 18,000 couples rushing to tie the knot across the state.
However conservative groups succeeded in gaining enough support for the issue to be put to a vote in November 4 elections in the form of an amendment which redefined marriage under California's constitution as being unions between men and women. The measure passed by a margin of 52.5 to 47.5 percent.
Same-sex marriage advocates later challenged the referendum, arguing it was an illegal revision of the state constitution.
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of upholding the marriage ban by a margin of 6-1 on Tuesday, while allowing same-sex marriages carried out before the law took effect to remain valid.
I am very excited to see this.