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

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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.

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