Some Mid-day Thoughts on Day 7: Powerlessness…

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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witness was called, the plaintiffs showed two clips from the depositions of two of defense’s witnesses who have since withdrawn, Dr.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.

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