TAG | California
Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has temporarily blocked the posting of any YouTube videos from the trial while it reviews the objections from the Prop 8 supporters. Accordingly, any updates at this time are coming in from various news sites and Twitter accounts.
To get snippets of information as it happens, I would recommend following the American Foundation for Equal Rights, @AmerEqualRights. Here are some highlights from their posts today:
(Olson is the attorney for the gay couples, Cooper is attorney defending Prop 8, Zarrillo and Katami are one of the couples):
- Olson: “In short, in the words of the highest court in the land, marriage is the most important relationship in life.” #Prop8
- Olson: Each of the rationalizations for Prop 8 fails; no good reason to justify its discrimination #Prop8
- Cooper: Marriage discrimination is OK as purpose of marriage is “procreative activity” #Prop8
- Cooper: Marriage equality, through which more people would be allowed to marry, will lead to fewer marriages #Prop8
- Zarrillo: Marriage is the “next logical step” in his relationship #Prop8
- Katami: “Being gay doesn’t change the fact that I pay my taxes, own a home and want to start a family” #Prop8
- Defenders object to showing of ad that cites a “homosexual agenda” as a reason to stop marriage equality. Overruled. #Prop8
- Zarrillo: Marriage to someone of the opposite sex is not an option #Prop8
The website for the American Foundation for Equal Rights has also posted Ted Olson’s opening statement as it was prepared (link). Here are my favorite parts:
- “The Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly described the right to marriage as “one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men;” a “basic civil right;” a component of the constitutional rights to liberty, privacy, association, and intimate choice; an expression of emotional support and public commitment; the exercise of spiritual unity; and a fulfillment of one’s self.”
- “As the witnesses in this case will elaborate, marriage is central to life in America. It promotes mental, physical and emotional health and the economic strength and stability of those who enter into a marital union. It is the building block of family, neighborhood and community.”
- “There is no rational justification for this unique pattern of discrimination. Proposition 8, and the irrational pattern of California’s regulation of marriage which it promulgates, advances no legitimate state interest. All it does is label gay and lesbian persons as different, inferior, unequal, and disfavored. And it brands their relationships as not the same, and less-approved than those enjoyed by opposite sex couples. It stigmatizes gays and lesbians, classifies them as outcasts, and causes needless pain, isolation and humiliation.”
It has now been over a year since Prop 8 was passed, and the more that it lingers, the better. This was California, one of the most accepting states in the country; we still wonder how it could have happened there. It was a defeat that has galvanized the gay movement. It showed us who is on our side and who is not. It lured in a whole new generation of activists, myself included.
Personally speaking, I used to defend the Mormon church and my upbringing in it whenever anyone spoke ill of it. That is not the case anymore, and I doubt it ever will be again. After seeing such a wide campaign of hatred spear-headed by the church, I no longer can defend anything about it. There is nothing Christian, noble, or Christ-like about what the church encourages. Their actions breed a society of homophobia that drives so many to depression and suicide. There is no way that Jesus would support that.
You can cite to me your few verses from a scripture, despite using them out of context and/or ignoring the warped translation of the original writing. And even with your handful of verses, I can list a number of verses ten-fold about love being the most important principle in life, to bring people to Christ and not drive them away, to treat others as you would want to be treated, etc.
2010 will witness two significant ripples from the Prop 8 vote. First, the U.S. District Court of Northern California will begin hearing the case Perry v. Schwarzenegger next week, a case challenging the Prop 8 constitutional amendment. The developments of this case will certainly continue throughout the year and will probably end up before the Supreme Court. Second, the film 8: The Mormon Proposition will be shown to the world at the Sundance Film Festival the last week of January.
As I did with part 1 of my 2010 marriage posts, I’m going to include the phenomenal NOH8 portraits by Chris Weiss throughout. Access his website to see the entire collection: http://www.chrisweissphoto.com/
Before any case, and especially one of this magnitude, there is plenty to talk about prior to the actual court date.
From day 1, the leading stories have been about the landmark pairing of Ted Olson and David Boies, opposing representation during the Bush/Gore case to resolve the voting issues in selecting a President, and the questioning and doubt from within the gay community as to whether this case was a good idea. A victory would be wonderful, but a defeat would set back the movement significantly.
As the January 11 court day has become closer, the stories have shifted to the actual issues of the case.
The plaintiffs filed a brief on December 7th laying out the case that Prop 8 violated their Constitutional rights. You can read the 30 page document here. The very basic argument of the case is this: Prop 8 violates the individual rights of the 14th amendment, and if the proposition does not satisfy a legitimate state interest, it cannot remain. The brief states, “[the] Proponents [of Prop 8] cannot meet their burden to demonstrate that Prop. 8 serves a single compelling, important, or even legitimate state interest.” Starting on page 10 of the document (numbered page 6 of the brief), the possible state interests are considered: procreation, “responsible procreation,” tradition, recognition of California marriage by other states, administrative convenience, and moral disapproval; each is soundly refuted.
There are a few additional parts of the brief I want to highlight.
On page 5 of the file: “when asked by this Court to identify any harm to opposite-sex marriage that would result from permitting gay and lesbian individuals to marry, counsel for Proponents tellingly responded, ‘I don’t know.’” And on page 12: “In the hearing on October 14, 2009, when asked ‘how it would harm opposite-sex marriages,’ counsel for Proponents responded, ‘I don’t know.’”
Lastly, the last page of the document, Exhibit B, shows some of the deception and completely ignorant and false tactics that groups used to garner support for Prop 8. On the website for Presence Ministry, in a letter from the Traditional Family Coalition titled “What if We Lose,” there is an absurd list of 3 consequences had 8 not passed: (1) Same-Sex marriage will be a permanent law in California. One by one, other states would fall into Satan’s hand. (2) Every child, when growing up, would fantasize marrying someone of the same sex. More children would become homosexuals. (3) Gay activists would target the big churches and request to be married by their pastors. If the church refuse, they would sue the church.
Wow. Really? Children will fantasize about marrying someone of the same sex because it is okay to be married? Quick funny story: my brother cried when he was a young boy (I forget how old) when he found out he couldn’t marry his best male friend. Kids are not just going to convert to being gay because marriage is okay. And we’re not interested in charging into your church to be specifically married there, we are perfectly content finding places that will respect and accept our marriages as suitable venues to wed. I do not know how anyone could read those 3 “consequences” and actually believe it; yet, sadly, I know they do.
If you want to read more about how this case came to be, how Boies and Olson joined up, how they have balanced the interests of the plaintiffs and national gay rights organizations, how they used some tactical strategies to have the proper timing with the courts and the media, I would highly recommend reading this article in the California Lawyer: http://callawyer.com/story.cfm?eid=906575&evid=1. It’s a long read, but if you’re interested in the case, it provides an amazing history of the development thus far.
Interestingly enough, the views from the Presence Ministry’s website during the actual Prop 8 campaign are still quite relevant to the case now, especially this week as there was a monumental decision to allow the case to be filmed and shared with the world (to a degree, I’ll explain that bit in a moment). The defense sought to bar any video during the case in order to protect the witnesses from any backlash they may receive for their bigoted views. So it is okay to flaunt your bigotry during the voting campaign through mailers, advertisements, etc, but when your face may be associated with it, you’re now worried? Cowards.
With regard to the cameras, the court judge did approve them, but it will not be a live, complete documentation of the trial. As a compromise, the judge ruled to allow recording of the hearing that will then be uploaded to YouTube a few hours later; further, it is possible that parts will be excluded and faces may be blurred. The videos will be available on the U.S. District Court of Northern California’s YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/USDCCAND. I hope they make it through with minimal alteration: I want there to be a record of the outrageous arguments they will surely try to make. I’ll be sure to share any videos when they become available after the January 11th hearing.
To close, I will leave you with the trailer for 8: The Mormon Proposition and one more Chris Weiss NOH8 portrait. I do not have much to say at this time about 8. I made plenty of Mormon remarks to start this post. I’m slightly intrigued about how it will be received in Park City, Utah, for its release. I cannot wait to watch this film. Please check out their website as well.
My roommate likes to point out that the gay community should be focused on more important issues than marriage: hate crime and bullying legislation, housing and workplace discrimination, the deplorable ideas being professed in Uganda, etc. When teenagers get bullied over sexuality to a point that drives them to suicide, marriage just doesn’t seem as important. But whether we like it or not, the fight in 2010 between the gay community and its opponents will be driven by the debate over marriage.
There have been numerous developments since my last posts on marriage at the beginning of December, and there are several major, future events that need to be mentioned. With organization and knowing my habit for being long-winded in mind, I will split what I have to say into two parts. The first will be a general update about the marriage debate: who does marriage really mean more to? The second will focus on the ripples from Prop 8, specifically the soon to be argued California court case.
Throughout both posts, I’m going to include some amazing NOH8 photographs that my friend, Chris Weiss, recently shot. The entire compilation of photos can be found at his website.
Let’s begin by comparing events from the last week of 2009 to highlight what marriage means to each side.
In one corner, we have Karl Rove, an ardent vigilante for the sanctity of marriage, filing for divorce on December 29 from his wife of 24 years; this will be his second divorce, by the way. If you have forgotten, he worked under President Bush and was a major spur in a pathetic 2004 campaign to add a gay marriage ban to the Constitution.
Part of a Bush speech on the matter: “For ages, in every culture, human beings have understood that traditional marriage is critical to the well-being of families. And because families pass along values and shape character, traditional marriage is also critical to the health of society. Our policies should aim to strengthen families, not undermine them. And changing the definition of traditional marriage will undermine the family structure.” It’s remarkable that these words can be uttered while it is irrefutable that marriage IS an evolving social idea and that divorce tears up families as much, or more, than anything.
In the other corner, we have the remarkable story of Jose Maria Di Bello and Alex Freyre, who became Latin America’s first legally married same-sex couple (this happened within a week of Rove’s divorce, just so we stay on track with the comparison). The political spectrum on the issue in Argentina is quite similar to the U.S.: there is no policy throughout the entire country on the issue; it is left to individual provinces to decide at this time while the national government is silent. And after the couple finally married, you have a local bigot bishop state that the marriage is “an attack against the survival of the human species.” *yawn*
Anyway, the couple was first scheduled to marry in Buenos Aires, and through a legal victory earlier in the year, looked to have the proper clearance to do so. But on the eve of their wedding, another court filed an injunction and the wedding was blocked. I can only imagine how disheartening that must have been
Yet, they carried on and found Tierra del Fuego, a state that would allow them to marry. And there, in Ushuaia, capital of the state and the southernmost tip of the continent, they wed. It is quite a remarkable story of love: you can read more about it here and here.
So what does 2010 have in store? There really is no time to even take a breath.
Tomorrow, the New Jersey state Senate will vote to legalize gay marriage. If it passes, it will need also approval from the Assembly prior to reaching the governor’s desk. Governor Corzine supports the measure, but Chris Christie, who replaces him in two weeks, does not. I’m not politically savvy enough to make a legitimate prediction on if that time frame is possible, but from an amateur’s perspective, it sure looks grim. And that sucks; it really, truly sucks that we have to go through this.
Next up: although Washington D.C. recently authorized gay marriages, the American Center for Law & Justice has filed a brief on behalf of 39 members of Congress and citizens of D.C. seeking to put the issue to public vote. As if a majority vote is a good way to determine a minority’s rights.
Lastly, Iowa. It’s been a relatively calm 6 months of gay marriages in Iowa, but this article posted in the Des Moines Register notes that, “Opponents of Iowa’s gay marriage law are promising to push hard during the 2010 legislative session for a vote on a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex unions.”
So strap on your boots, ladies and gents, we’re in for a wild ride in 2010. Will leave you with one last NOH8 photo by Chris Weiss. Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of this 2010 marriage post and for more NOH8 photos.