Why They Don’t Want Us To See The Prop 8 Trial

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In the absence of video coverage, many have been doing a tremendous job of documenting the Proposition 8 trial so far. As I mentioned yesterday, a lot is at stake in this trial, and having folks like Rick Jacobs to keep us informed is incredibly valuable. Check out the coverage to see his detailed almost-transcripts of the trial. Also, if you just want brief summaries, I highly recommend the professional and articulate summations of Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights over at Pam’s House Blend (here’s his day 1 roundup).

What you might have missed yesterday is the blog entry courtesy of Protect Marriage’s chief counsel Andy Pugno. If the actual courtroom discussions aren’t painful enough, wait until you see how eager the defendants are to twist knives.

It’s clear from his post that the real reason opponents of marriage equality don’t want coverage is so they can spin the case. His post mocks the plaintiffs and makes a laughingstock of the serious discrimination gays and lesbians experience. Worse, he suggests that any concerns for the well-being of gays and lesbians are preposterous. As I wrote yesterday, the defendants have to paint gays and lesbians as being powerful and making much ado about nothing; if court proceedings weren’t widely available, it’d make it much easier for them to twist things to their liking. They’re certainly trying, regardless.

Take a look:

We’re off. The first day of trial is concluded and we are beginning to see the outlines of the plaintiffs’ case emerge. Emotion was the order of the day as our opponents took the stand to describe examples of “awkward” situations and social discomfort in their everyday life experiences.  They also testified about how they experienced “hurt feelings” whenever they saw a Yes on Prop 8 campaign ad, bumper sticker, or sign.

Apparently, the oppression of having to constantly explain your relationship (“awkward”) and the emotions experienced as others demonize you (“hurt feelings”) are not legitimate experiences, hence the mocking quotes.

One witness took particular offense by the campaign’s advertisements that encouraged voters to vote yes to “protect our children.”  You’ll remember that the campaign had informed voters that legally recognizing same-sex marriage would interfere with the rights of parents to raise their own children according to their own beliefs.  The witness actually admitted that he believes parents should have the primary responsibility for instilling moral values in children, but still couldn’t see that reasonable voters would feel the need to “protect our children” from laws that infringe on those parental rights.

Yes, because the plaintiffs didn’t see a problem with children learning about same-sex couples. Children don’t need to be protected from that.

What were conspicuously missing from the plaintiffs’ testimony were any examples of complaints that could be legally remedied by striking down Prop 8.  It was quite apparent that striking down Prop 8 would not likely put an end to uncomfortable social experiences such as “puzzled looks” from people they meet.

Gay people are awkward and different and we’re going to keep making fun of them regardless of what happens.

Several times Judge Walker interrupted the plaintiffs to question whether the state should be “in the marriage business” at all, asking if the plaintiffs would be happy with eliminating marriage altogether—and allowing only domestic partnerships for both man/woman and same-sex couples. Amazingly the plaintiffs testified that would be acceptable to them.  They actually said: if same-sex couples can’t have marriage, then no one should. Obviously, the elimination of marriage for everybody is certainly not what the people of California, or the nation, have in mind as an appropriate solution to this debate.

Them queers are trying to ruin it for all of us. They’re selfish, they’re hateful, and they’re trying to destroy the fabric of our society!

Both from the opening arguments delivered by plaintiffs’ attorney Ted Olson, and the witness testimony, it is clear that our opponents are trying to re-characterize Prop 8—which simply restored the age-old meaning of marriage—as part of a agenda of hate and discrimination against gays and lesbians.  One attorney said as much, claiming that Prop 8 promotes hate crimes against gays and lesbians, depression, homelessness, etc. These claims are preposterous, and we hope that they will be seen as such as the trial progresses.

Did you catch that? It’s “preposterous” to conclude that reinforcement of gays and lesbians as “less than” contributes to people treating gays and lesbians as “less than.”

The last witness today was Harvard Professor Nancy Cott who testified about the history of marriage in the United States. Amazingly, Cott testified that marriage has not been universally understood to be an opposite-sex relationship throughout most of history.  Her testimony resumes tomorrow, and then our legal team will have an opportunity to cross-examine about her historical opinions.

Yeah, it’s only amazing because it’s true. Feel that cognitive dissonance, Mr. Pugno! It feels good!

Lastly, the debate rages on about televising the Prop 8 trial.  Our opponents continue to insist that televising this trial is important to help “educate the public” about same-sex marriage and promote public awareness of the nature of same-sex relationships.  Those justifications actually make our point that the trial should not be televised! The federal courts are supposed to be the guardian of our  right to a “fair and impartial trial.”  The courts have never been intended for use as a tool to “educate the public.”  And there is no need in this case.  We all know there is no shortage of high-profile public debate about the marriage issue, and we need not turn this proceeding into a “show trial” at the expense of fairness and impartiality to ourselves, our witnesses, and our ability to put on a full legal defense.

On this point, the United States Supreme Court’s order today that temporarily stayed Judge Walker’s plans to broadcast the trial on the Internet via YouTube is a hopeful sign that our nation’s highest court will give this issue their immediate attention and full consideration and protect our right to a fair trial.

We need to prevent them dirty fags from pollutin’ the minds of our good Christian God-fearing folk. We don’t need anybody validating their relationships or suggesting it’s okay to be gay. It’s not! It’s an abomination!

If Pugno and company really intend to make the case that Proposition 8 was NOT intended to discriminate against gays and lesbians, they could at least try a little bit harder to hide the fact that it does exactly that, as do its defendants.

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