Archive for "Jan, 20 2010"

Day 7 of the Prop 8 Trial: We Don’t Have The Power

I have a hunch people aren’t sure how to react to today. Dr. Segura still has a morning full of cross-exam and redirect to face in the morning, but there were so many revelations today. To know that there was an intentional strategy for religious groups to collaborate without being perceived as being too connected to the campaign… it’s mind-blowing.

I don’t even know what to say right now. I just want to know more!

Important update: the American Foundation for Equal Rights will now be hosting the official trial transcripts on their site. If you want to see exactly what’s been happening, take a look. I can assure you that’s the last thing Protect Marriage wants you to do. Since the official transcripts are a couple days late, we’ll continue to follow the liveblogging from P8TT and FDL.

Here are the links for tonight. There’s a lot of focus on Obama being brought up today, and for good reason.

ZFb: Some Mid-day Thoughts on Day 7: Powerlessness…, Protect Marriage, Day 7: The Truth Hurts, But We’re Laughing It Off

P8TT: Complete Transcript Summary, sues Courage Campaign Institute over logo, Your Right Hand is My Left Hand: The LDS Church and the Prop 8 Campaign, An Explosive Afternoon: LDS Church, Restraining Order denied: Logo staying up for now, What is Power? (A poignant summation of the implications of today’s testimony for our movement)

FDL: ProtectMarriage’s Andy Pugno: Marriage is Like Prison (HILARIOUS!), Morning 1, Morning 2, Afternoon 1, Afternoon 2, President Fierce Advocate Appears at the Prop 8 Trial

Shannon Minter (NCLR): Day 7 Recap

San Jose Mercury: Prop. 8 trial Day 7: Live coverage from the courtroom, Expert in Prop 8 trial says Obama not a reliable ally of gay marriage movement

Los Angeles Times: Prop. 8 opponents seek to show link between religion, anti-gay discrimination [Updated], Prop. 8 challengers highlight religion’s role in campaign

Edge: Prop 8 trial, Day 7: Witnesses counter claims sexual orientation is a choice

The Raw Story: Mormon church wanted ‘plausible deniability’ on anti-gay effort

Huffington Post: Proposition 8: Gay Man Says ‘Reversal’ Therapy Did Not Change Him

Keen News Service: Mid-day report: Day 7 Prop 8 trial, Prop 8 trial: weak allies and powerful enemies

Advocate: Cindy McCain Poses for NOH8 (Another recruit for Harvey Milk!)

New York Times: Children Speak for Same-Sex Marriage (A great look at the perspective of the kids of same-sex couples.)

Good As You: Signed Andy Pugno, Ron Prentice, et al.

In that last link, Jeremy Hooper reminds us that the Protect Marriage used some of the very same tactics (threats of boycott) that they have been taking umbrage for.

Here’s a revealing video from Mormon Pollster Gary Lawrence. He ran a consulting firm that did a lot of polling for the Prop 8 campaign, and today’s testimony addressed his role coordinating the entire Mormon effort within Orange County. For as innocent as Protect Marriage has been trying to play, it’s clear from this video they relish any opportunity to play the victim card—they’ll even fabricate circumstances just so they can.

The trial re-enactments did not appear today like we hoped they would, but hopefully we’ll see them soon.

To end the night on a lighter note, let’s take another look at some of the fun tweets from protect mawwaige that came in today. (There were quite a few to pick from.)

When we pick on gays it’s called doing God’s work. When gays fight back it’s called OPPRESSION. Got it?! #prop8 #protectmarriage

Of course sex orientation is a choice! Many of us #prop8 supporters must consciously choose NOT to be gay. every. minute. of. the. day.

Glad our team withdrew THAT witness. He obviously didn’t know how to skew his testimony to our side LOL! #prop8 #protectmarriage

#prop8 witness brings up decline of birthrates connected 2 female literacy? Then we must put a stop to education for women & get em breedin!

Ryan Kendall, ex “gay camp survivor” takes stand at #prop8. Bible burst into flames while sworn in. #protectmarriage

Not sure why #prop8 plaintiffs upset about wanting to hide public sermons. Jesus stood up to establishment so we could hide like cowards.

It’s nice to see such light-hearted satire when we’re discussing such heavy topics.

As always, the Perry v. Schwarzenegger archive is on-hand to keep you caught up and informed!

Protect Marriage, Day 7: The Truth Hurts, But We’re Laughing It Off

I wrote earlier about the heavy and important testimony this morning, but let me be very clear about what happened this afternoon. Despite fervent objections by the defense’s Mr. Pugno himself, internal documents were admitted as evidence that unveiled a vast conspiracy between the Mormon Church (aka LDS), the Catholic Church, and Protect Marriage to mobilize a coalition against same-sex marriage. Julie Rosen called the afternoon “explosive.”

Mr. Pugno called it laughable.

Let’s take a look at the latest Protect Marriage spin. It’s clear they’re on the defensive today, so I might not have to write as much in response.

Religion Put on the Stand

Today, the legal challenge to Prop 8 took an ugly turn as religion itself was put on trial. Plaintiffs’ witness Gary Segura, a Stanford University political science professor with expertise in the area of the political power of minorities including homosexuals, summed it up when he said “religion is the chief obstacle for gays’ and lesbians’ political progress.”

It’s only ugly for the defense.

In trying to make the case that homosexuals are a vulnerable minority with no ability to achieve and secure success in the political system for their interests, Professor Segura blamed hostility, political opposition and even violence towards gays and lesbians on the teachings of major religious denominations. He further testified that there is no more powerful organization in the United States – save the government – than the church. Particular scrutiny was given to the official religious doctrines of the Catholic Church and Southern Baptists about marriage, family and sexual relationships. Therefore, according to his logic, gays and lesbians must be given special legal protection by the U.S. Constitution against religion itself.

Remarkably, the only spin is the conclusion Pugno tries to make. No one is trying to get special protection “against religion.” The incredible revelations we had about religion today speak only to the incredible power that religion exerts in a pointedly anti-gay fashion, and consequently the powerlessness of the gay community to combat that coalition against our rights.

If it weren’t such a serious and troubling matter, their line of attack against people of faith would be laughable. To suggest that the people of California cannot consider their own political, moral and religious views when casting their vote on Prop 8 is preposterous. Every election, many issues are presented to voters that involve moral issues, including stem-cell research, the treatment of animals, assisted suicide, the death penalty, health care reform and so on.

To translate Mr. Pugno’s spin: It should be okay to discriminate if your discrimination is motivated by religion. Segura’s testimony included reminders that religion was used to discriminate against women and people of color too!

And let’s call it out now. There was no attack against religion. Pugno was not very happy that all these internal documents between church officials were brought to light, but there was no attack against religion. If religion’s reputation was maligned today, it was only because of the actions of the religions in question.

In any event, religion has taken the stage, front and center, in the battle over the constitutionality of Prop 8, and is being portrayed as an illegitimate basis for supporting traditional marriage. Religious bigotry surely found expression in today’s presentation by the plaintiffs.

Bigotry? I didn’t see any “intolerance” in today’s proceedings. The witness called a spade a “spade.” Instead of spades, Segura was discussing a vast conspiracy to surreptitiously rally the support of religious groups against gay rights. The truth hurts, Andy, but calling it out isn’t bigotry.

Before he signed off his post, he had to address this morning’s discussions on reparative therapy.

The trial testimony also swerved way into “irrelevant” territory today when plaintiffs called to the stand a young man who was, as a child, forced by his Christian parents to undergo conversion therapy by a therapist because of his sexual attraction to men. No matter that this witness has never resided in California, was wholly unfamiliar with the Prop 8 campaign, was not a willing participant in his conversion therapy, and emancipated himself from his parents as a minor. What the personal experience of a person from Colorado who experienced a deeply troubled family life has to do with the constitutionality of Prop 8 is beyond me. What is clear is that today, however, the plaintiffs put the role of religion clearly in their sights and are likely to fire away at the legitimacy of religious and moral views, as well as the votes and voices of those who hold them.

There’s another snarky use of quotes I don’t get. Since he uses them to deligitimize what’s between them, he must be trying to say “not irrelevant,” which means Andy is admitting there was relevance to the testimony.

That middle “sentence” is actually all true, despite being a fragment.

Ryan Kendall (he’s a real person with a real name) testified about the way he constantly suffered religiously-motivated admonishment for his sexual orientation. This was based on an unscientific belief that his orientation can and should be changed. Such points have incredible relevance, no matter how eager Pugno is to dismiss them.

In the interest of full disclosure, this blog consistently “fires away” at the legitimacy of religious beliefs, and will continue to do so. Just because Pugno takes offense to the suggestion beliefs might not be legitimate does not change the fact the beliefs might not be (or definitely aren’t) legitimate.

Some Mid-day Thoughts on Day 7: Powerlessness…

So, they just broke for lunch over at Perry v. Schwarzenegger and I have to say, today has been a heavy day as far as testimony goes. A lot of important points have been made, so I thought I’d share some of them now.

First, you have to go take a look at the lawsuit that has been filed by Protect Marriage against the Courage Campaign for their Prop 8 Trial Tracker logo. Apparently, Protect Marriage doesn’t think the parody is funny. They must not realize how funny their lawsuit is either. It’s quite ridiculous, and you should definitely go take a look. I wonder if they’ll also sue the snarky tweeter “protectmawwiage” for that parody of the Protect Marriage logo (which is slightly less subtle):

Anyways, today’s testimony…

Before the first witness was called, the plaintiffs showed two clips from the depositions of two of defense’s witnesses who have since withdrawn, Dr. Nathanson and Dr. Young. Both clips demonstrate that the witness’s testimony supports the case the plaintiffs are building. It was astounding. Check those links for video clips and transcripts of these depositions.

Then we heard from Ryan Kendall, a young man who had been forced into reparative therapy by his family as a teenager. When he came out, his mother told him she wished she had had an abortion or that he’d been born with Down Syndrome rather than be gay. He spoke of suicidal thoughts and escaping his neglectful family. And:

Q: Have you met anyone who succeeded in conversion therapty?
A: Yes, Nicolosi trotted out his perfect patient, named Kelly, who (when the doctor left the room) told me that he was going to a gay bar that night and was pretending success in conversion for his family.

The rest of the testimony this morning came from Dr. Gary Segura. He made a lot of poignant points about the powerlessness of gays and lesbians, a lot of which address other issues discussed in last week’s testimony. I’m going to try to pull some key excerpts for those of you who don’t have the time to read the full testimony. Here were his main points (taken from FDL and P8TT transcripts with typos corrected and emphasis added):

A: Yes, three: 1. G&L do not possess a meaningful degree of political power. They can’s effect their desires in legal framework

2. G&L suffer political disabilities greater than other groups that have received suspect class protection

3. the opinions of Dr Kenneth MIll are fundamentally flawed and incorrect.

Q: is your definition of politcal power generally accepted?

A: Yes: If party A can get party B to do something B would rather not, it’s political power not simple agreement.

This is a key point. It’s not just a disagreement. It’s a political struggle.

Segura also made the point that there are sometimes favorable outcomes despite this powerlessness:

Lots of news recently about newly elected lesbian mayor of Houston. Media says “holy cow, a lesbian in Houston.” White lesbian against black man. Racial and economic and social and partisan fracture lines in Houston. That she was elected is great for g and l power. I have to look at context. Just a few years back, voters in Houston voted down Houston providing benefits to ss partners. So we have a lesbian mayor whose partner of 19 years cannot get city coverage.

Segura spends a lot of time discussing the ways that that gays and lesbians have been condemned by society, with lots of specific examples, but concluding:

No group in American society, including undocumented aliens who are a distant second, that has been targeted by ballot measures than g and l. Since 1970s, over 200. Lost 70%. Lost all same sex marriage initiatives. Propositions nationalize. “The initiative process has been the Waterloo of gay and lesbian politics.”

He also points out that ballot initiative chill legislatures because they know money will be spent on them. The absence of gay and lesbians within the legislature gives them the freedom to say downcasting things, making the animus quite public.

When two US senators compare gay marriage to bestiality, that is not the fringe, that is the US senate.

Not holding back on Obama, Segura said it’s not enough to have allies:

It’s nice to have allies and if those allies are reliable, even better. There is sense that those allies retreat when it’s tough. If you think of major groups in society outside of commercial enterprises, you think of military, church, Republican and Democratic Party. Dems say they support homos, but Democrats passed DADT and DOMA. Current president has refused an order from the chief judge of the ninth circuit to provide domestic partner benefits to court employees. Also, filed briefs that support DOMA and has done nothing to repeal DOMA or DADT. This is not a reliable ally.

He also didn’t hold back on religious groups:

S: Yes. Religion is the chief obstacle for gay and lesbian political power. After government, difficult to think of more powerful institution than religion in America. Allows people to meet every week. Largely arrayed against gays and lesbians. Different than for AAs, because except for Baptists, nearly every religion favored civil rights.

S: Nathanson testimony confirmed what I already believed, that its really difficulty for gays and lesbians to achieve political power. Dr. Young freely admits the religious hostility to gays and lesbians builds hatred toward homos and leads to prejudice and discrimination.

S: Can’t think of any other group that has such round hatred from religious groups. In fact, it has served to make the evangelical movement more powerful because they ally around this issue.

Here’s one more excerpt that I definitely think you need to see. You may recall that last week, the defense actually proffered the argument that portrayals like Will & Grace are evidence of diminishing discrimination against gays and lesbians. Segura counters that point:

Public sees only gays and lesbians in larger cities. Public thinks that all gay men have advanced degrees. People who are in the closet are likely to be lower status. Public has a misperception of the level of treatment of gays and lesbians. Not every gay man is Will from Will and Grace. Will is an attorney in NY with a large apartment. When people see this, they think gays don’t need protection. Makes public less sympathetic. Makes public view numbers of gays and lesbians as smaller, which diminishes their political power.

If all that weren’t enough, Segura also talked about how most hate crimes are against gays and lesbians and how they’re the least safe group in the United States, the psychological impact of the closet and how people are intimidated by hostility from participating in rallies and such, and the way AIDS put the gay community into survivor mode, stifling their ability to rally any political power.

This is powerful testimony and it is extremely validating to have it aired in a public hearing. This is exactly why the defense has been so opposed to the broadcast of this case. It really shows how hurt our community is by efforts like theirs.

Check back later for another Protect Marriage response and a full roundup of the day.

Day 6 of the Prop 8 Trial: Overcoming Prejudice and Not Impacting Marriage

Before I get to today’s roundup, I have to follow up on my post this morning criticizing another blog’s post on the issue of choice and homosexuality. Since then, Prop 8 on Trial has offered another post correcting a lot of the misinformation and disrespectful language that was present in their previous post. I thank them for making these corrections and for their continued commentary on the trial.

The most distressing part of today’s proceedings was the cross-examination in which defense counsel Charles Cooper demonstrated a complete ineptness for statistics and/or a pathetic scheme to spin the data to his liking. I really appreciated David Dayen’s comment on the matter during his liveblogging on Firedoglake:

Cooper wants to discredit Badgett as a witness. So he’s just playing around with her numbers and strongly suggesting that they aren’t accurate. For example, he just took an unreliable sample of people who went into Massachusetts to get married and extrapolated that to get a lower number than Badgett previously estimated for that action. But Badgett clearly stated that the first five months of the change in law would be different and that there are all kinds of mitigating factors. Essentially, Cooper was saying, “Isn’t it true that my made-up numbers are lower than your numbers?” To which Badgett replied, “yeah, they’re made up.”

Cooper further is intimating that nobody would have voted for or against Prop 8 for fiscal reasons, so Badgett’s testimony is not germane. But that’s not the point of Badgett’s testimony. She’s saying that there’s a clear harm to individuals as well as the government for being denied marriage. The voting inclination has nothing to do with it.

If you’re courageous enough to dig through and try to make sense of Cooper’s tactics, more power to you! Here’s a roundup of today’s links!

ZFb: Everything You Need To Know About Today’s Prop 8 Proceedings In One Little Post, Protect Marriage, Day 6: Body Blows and Flying Cards

P8TT: Complete Transcript Summary, Why Jerry Sanders’ Testimony Mattered …, Brief Thought on Lee Badgett’s Testimony, Netherlands Obsession (GREAT look at the defense’s tactics), The Unspoken Word: DOMA, Data from the Netherlands

Firedoglake: Morning 1, Morning 2, Afternoon 1, Afternoon 2

Shannon Minter (NCLR): Day 6 Recap

San Jose Mercury: Prop. 8 trial Day 6: Live coverage from the courtroom

Los Angeles Times: San Diego mayor cites ‘prejudice’ in earlier opposition to gay marriage, Same-sex couples prefer marriage to domestic partnerships, economist testifies

San Diego 6: Mayor Sanders Testifies in Gay Marriage Trial (Includes multiple videos!)

Keen News Service: Mid-day report: second Tuesday morning Prop 8 trial

New York Times: Maureen Dowd: The Trials of Gavin Newsom (A look at the origins of same-sex marriage in California)

The New Yorker: A Conservative Voice for Gay Marriage (This piece is about Mayor Sanders.)

Good As You: Seriously, Maggie: You and sleep — how? (You should see how insensitive Maggie Gallagher is!)

LGBT POV: Yusef Robb: Day 7 of the Prop 8 trial (What to expect tomorrow!)

To sum up, here’s an excerpt from Shannon Minter’s analysis of today’s proceedings about the cross-examination tactics:

Charles Cooper cross-examined Professor Badgett for nearly three hours, by far the longest examination of the day.  In a pattern that has now become familiar in this trial, Cooper spent most of his time trying to poke holes in various minor details of Professor Badgett’s analysis, without challenging her larger conclusions. Cooper’s examination fell especially flat when he put charts in front of Badgett that he claimed showed marriage equality in the Netherlands had led to lower rates of marriage, larger numbers of unmarried couples raising children, and larger numbers of single parents raising children.  Professor Badgett did not agree with his characterizations, saying that these changes seemed to reflect long-term trends that were not affected in any way by permitting same-sex couples to marry, and stating that a longer range of dates needed to be studied before drawing any conclusions.  On redirect, plaintiffs’ attorney David Boies skillfully exploited the weakness of Cooper’s charts, putting up much longer-term data that made clear that there has been no significant change at all in long-term trends in rates of marriage and unmarried parenting in the Netherlands since same-sex couples have been permitted to marry.  Moreover, in Massachusetts, the data showed that marriage rates have actually increased since the arrival of marriage equality in 2004, and divorce rates there have decreased more than in the United States as a whole.

I hope we don’t have to sit through anything that excruciating again, but I’m not optimistic.

On a lighter note, a project is underwear to produce video reenactments of the trial! These should be a fun way to follow the trial in the absence of real video footage. The first round of videos are expected tomorrow!

That’s all for today. Check back tomorrow for more updates, or as always, visit the Perry v. Schwarzenegger archive!