Day 4 of the Prop 8 Trial: Stigma and Economics

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Day 4 was a very long day in the courtroom, with proceedings going past 5:00 (they’ve typically been adjourning at 4:30). This morning we heard testimony from Edwin Egan, chief economist for the city and county of San Francisco. He spoke to all the economic benefits of same-sex marriage, including not only profits from weddings, but reduced costs incurred when same-sex couples have access to health insurance and and other financial protections of marriage. The defense tried to suggest his projections weren’t valid and also used cyclical reasoning to demonstrate there is no “proof” of his projections post-November 4.

This afternoon, Dr. Ilan Meyer, a social psychologist spoke extensively on the stigma gays and lesbians experience, pointing out the fundamental differences unique to the invisible identities and reflecting back to the experiences that the plaintiffs testified about on Monday. As Paul Hogarth wrote today, homophobia was on trial today. In cross-examination, the defense tried to impeach Meyer’s credibility by trying to compare his research to 50-year-old research. Arguably, this opened up more doors for the plaintiffs to explore in redirect, such as the way that white gays and lesbians don’t grow up in a culture of adaptation to stigma the way gays and lesbians of color do, which explains why in some studies, the white participants had higher rates of mental illness than those of color (despite the double stigma experienced).

I think this afternoon’s testimony really touched a lot of hearts. As a gay man myself, I definitely connected with how the realization that I was gay totally warped what I had thought about for my future possible self, as well as the many times I closet myself on a daily basis. For as out as I am, I still check myself sometimes, consciously and subconsciously . I recommend the two extra posts from Firedoglake today that expand on these experiences.

At any rate, here are your recaps and links for the day!

P8TT: Complete Transcript Summary, What Did We Learn and Why is Courage Here?, What Do They Have To Hide?, Brief Thoughts on the Morning’s Testimony, Legal Experts Weigh in on Supreme Court Banning Cameras, On William Tam, or Help I’m a Bigot, Somebody Get me Out of Here, This Afternoon Testimony: Homophobia on Trial

Firedoglake: Morning 1, Morning 2, Afternoon 1, Afternoon 2, “Mommy, When I Grow Up Can I Get Domestic Partnered?”, The ‘Private Hell’ of an Inauthentic Life

Shannon Minter (NCLR): Day 4 Recap

Huffington Post: Supreme Court Bans Videotaping to Protect Prop 8 Supporters, We Need an Open Debate on Prop 8

San Jose Mercury: Prop. 8 trial Day 4: Live coverage from the courtroom, Experts again headline Proposition 8 trial

San Francisco Gate: City economist: Same-sex marriage good for S.F.

LA Times: Mental health expert testifies on the effects of Prop. 8, The marriage test

BRAD BLOG: New Study Suggests CA’s 2008 Prop 8 Election Results Could be Fraudulent or In Error

Tonight on Twitter, a number of videos were circulating in remembrance of hate crime victims: Life, Interrupted, Stop the Hate., Tired Of Gay Hate Crimes?, stop gay hate crimes, and Gay Hate Crimes

We also got this wonderful cartoon from Mark Fiore, called “Whose Marriage Is it?“:

In other news, the petition for a public vote on marriage in Washington, DC was denied (again). As we sit in suspense of what is happening in the California courts, it’s nice to have some good news on marriage equality. That’s a big “no” to voting on civil rights (too bad it can still be appealed)!

In his recap tonight, Shannon Minter comments on the “end” of the conversation on taping the trial:

In light of the court’s decision, Judge Walker did the right thing by taking the issue off the table -ensuring that what is now an entirely moot point will not distract from the constitutional issues in the case.  But Judge Walker’s gracious approach apparently did not satisfy the defenders of Prop 8.  Just before the morning break, Charles Cooper, the lead lawyer defending Prop 8, requested again that the judge to stop all video recording and destroy all tapes of the first few days of the proceedings. He had requested this earlier in writing. Judge Walker said that recording would continue, so that he can review the video in chambers while writing his decision.

It is heartbreaking that a video record of this groundbreaking trial will not be broadcast to the public.  Watching this trial has been tremendously educational, even for those of us who have spent our careers studying and litigating these issues.  The public has lost a unique and invaluable opportunity to see the leading experts in their fields talk about the real-world impact of denying marriage equality, and to learn about how our courts really work in the context of a civil rights case that millions of people deeply care about.

It was startling to start the day with the request that the tapes be destroyed. I was honored to retweet NCLR, agreeing:

Their desire to erase history is chilling and echoes prof chauncey’s testimony abt the erasure of gay history

I really think Paul Hogarth summarizes the importance of this afternoon’s testimony effectively:

It reminded me of the plaintiff’s case in Brown v. Board of Education (1954).  The problem wasn’t just that black children were being sent to inferior schools with less resources — it was the mere separation that created the stigma of inferiority.  In fact, the NAACP in Brown chose Topeka, Kansas because the black segregated schools there were comparatively better than in other places.  California is like Topeka, in the sense that gays comparatively have it “better” here than most states because our domestic partnership law is one of the most comprehensive in the country.

So how would Dr. Meyer’s testimony help — on a legal theory — to overturn Prop 8?  Well, he argued that the mere passage of Prop 8 — taking away the rights of same-sex couples to marry — was a manifestation of the lifelong stigma that LGBT people go through in everyday lives.  The plaintiffs have to prove there is no way to separate Prop 8’s purpose from animus — and what was useful about Dr. Meyer is that he said Prop 8 itself (as opposed to its supporters’ motivations) is the irrational basis.

In other words, whether proponents of Prop 8 intended to foster stigma or not, Prop 8 fosters stigma.

As I vented a few nights ago, following this trial can be as emotionally taxing as it is validating. Since today was pretty heavy, let’s end the recap with something to make you smile.

To my readers, I have urgent news for you. Please, if you read anything today, let it be this paragraph. Your pants are on the ground. Seriously, look down. Your pants are on the ground. And because of this, you are looking like a fool. Honestly, your pants are on the ground. And if that weren’t enough, you have gold in your mouth and your hat is turned sideways. I know… I know what you’re thinking. When your pants hit the ground, you call yourself a cool cat. But honestly, you’re walking downtown with your pants on the ground and you look like a fool. Get it up. Get your pants off the ground. You are walking and you are talking with your pants on the ground. Your pants are on the ground.

As always, you can catch up and keep up with my my Perry v. Schwarzenegger archive. Also, check back later tonight, as I’m sure there will be another Protect Marriage post to respond to!

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