Some Day 9 Mid-Day Updates, Suspect Classes, and Mainstream Coverage

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I have to say, today’s testimony is dull, because it’s clear what the defense is trying to do ad nauseam and it’s just not working. Dr. Gregory Herek is testifying on the following three points:

1. The nature of sexual orientation and how it’s understood in sociology and psychology.
2. The immutability of sexual orientation.
3. The stigma and prejudice against gays and lesbians and how that intersects with Prop 8.

Herek made it quite clear the beginning of his testimony that sexual orientation as a general concept has three intersecting components: sexual attraction, sexual behavior, and sexual self-identity. All the studies show that while there are some variations between how an individual identifies with all three, they usually align.

I often use the chart at right (click to embiggen) to help folks understand that there are a variety of independent components to gender and sex identities. Every individual might experience or identify differently with the various continua, but any combination can allow for a normal and healthy identity. Most important to note is that it’s not any “different” for “homosexuals.”

Despite this, the defense continues to cite ancient studies in hopes of demonstrating that there is no clear way to define “homosexuality,” and so there is no way to identify sexual orientation as a suspect class. Dr. Herek consistently reiterates the same working definition, but what’s important to note is that defining homosexuality is no different than defining heterosexuality. We certainly don’t make heterosexuals prove through a measure of their attractions or behaviors that they are heterosexual before they marry an opposite-sex partner.

An important comparison is religion. Religion is (or at least ought to be) freely chosen, but it is considered a suspect class. What “defines” a Christian? Would they have to prove their Christianity to the court? What if they had a revelation right in the middle of their testimony… would that be enough? Technically, I was baptized, so even though I’ve written extensively about my atheism, there are some people who would say I will always be “Catholic.” It frustrates me that the defense is wasting our time with this junk science when precedent shows that it really doesn’t do anything to impugn the plaintiffs’ case .

Anyways, that’s what’s happening today, and the plaintiffs will be rest today after some other videos they plan to show (which I suspect are more of the deposition tapes). Here are some other links to check out!

New York Times: Chinese Christians Are the Focus of Same-Sex Marriage Case – I don’t agree with the headline exactly, but it’s an interesting look at the religious groups William Tam works with.

More stories about William Tam’s testimony: Prop. 8 backer’s function in campaign disputed (SF Gate) and Going Hostile: Boies & Co. Attack Motivations of Prop. 8 Backers

Coverage of this morning’s testimony: Mid-day report: Day 9 Prop 8 trial (Keen News Service), Prop 8 trial witness: Being gay not a choice (Seattle Times)

And here are a number of great pieces on Huffington Post worth looking at today!

Mayor Jerry Sanders: Proud to Testify for Marriage Equality

Hak-Shing William Tam, Prop. 8 Backer, Claims Gays More Likely To Be Pedophiles

What Is Really on Trial in the Prop 8 Case? (Hint: “Knowledge.” Read the piece to find out more!)

Why Straight People Should Be Following the Prop. 8 Federal Trial

That last piece fits really well with my piece from earlier in the week, Why You Should Absolutely Care About The Prop 8 Trial (And How!). This weekend, I’ll also be working on a piece on why this case is important to atheists.

Check back later tonight for more updates on today’s proceedings, or as always, check the archive to catch up on the trial.

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