Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 3-4 of Prop8 trial: what's happened so far

The Good Guys continue to lay out their case. The Bad Guys continue to focus on children and procreation and scapegoating Teh Evil Gays.

First witnesses were the plaintiffs: Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier, who have 4 kids, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarillo. The defense only cross-examined Katami, trying to get him to admit that the parents have legitimate reasons to fear marriage equality. Katamii doesn't have kids, why didn't they ask Perry? perhaps they didn't want to highlight the fact that GLBT couples have kids too. It's hard to read the testimony of these people without tears. They are so loving and so vulnerable.

Expert Witness 1, Professor Nancy Cott of Harvard, an expert on marriage, explained that the concept of marriage continues to evolve, and particiularly noted how it changed with changed gender roles, and women's independence. She feels that marriage equality will strengthen the institution.

Expert Witness 2, Professor George Chauncey of Yale, an expert on GLBT history, gave an overview of the discrimination and prejudice against GLBT people. This led to a somewhat surreal moment where the defense attorney in cross examination claimed that because the film Brokeback Mountain got awards, there is no more discrimination against GLBT people. Then he read a list of faith groups that support marriage equality. I think the goal is to claim that GLBT people are not discriminated against any more (um, then what are you defending?).

The re-direct examination of Prof Chauncey exposed some of the really vile lies told in the campaign. The deposition of WIlliam Tam (he who tried to withdraw) was important here, and they showed the video. From the SF Chronicle:

Tam, who organized rallies and raised money for the measure, sent a letter to Prop. 8 supporters during the campaign warning that if same-sex marriage remained legal, "other states would fall into Satan's hand."

San Francisco's government, already "under the rule of homosexuals," would move next to legalize sex with children and prostitution, Tam said.

In his deposition, Tam said he was also concerned that "every child can grow up thinking whether he would marry John or Jane."
Tam also was quoted as saying he believes there is a homosexual agenda, and it started in Chicago in 1972.


Expert Witness #3 is on the stand: Prof Anne Peplau of UCLA, a social psychologist who studies couples and relationships. She stated that there is no real difference in GLBT and straight couples and that marriage improves both types of relationships. Pushed by the defense during cross, she admitted there is one difference: no unintended pregnancies with GLBT folks. The defense here really tried to focus on gay men being promiscuous by nature--relying on data from 25 years ago. (In addition, I don't know why someone doesn't point out that without marriage, straight men would probably be promiscuous too.)

The final note is that the Supreme Court decided (5 to 4, usual suspects) NOT to allow cameras in the courtroom. The NY Times nails them in an Op/Ed Discrimination on trial, not on TV. Because remember, this way the bad guys can keep hidden shocking evidence like William Tam's lies and paranoia, or the awful, awful things they say about us....and they can keep hidden the scary normality of people like Kristin Perry.

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