But several other startling revelations took place outside the courtroom that also affected the ultimate fate of the despised and hated Proposition 8, the California initiative approved in 2008 by 52.3% that took away the right to marry for gay people, a right that had already been affirmed by the state Supreme Court earlier that year. Let's take a quick look at what's going on in the real world, and then back to the Trial of the Decade:
- The Prop 8 Trial WILL be seen on YouTube after all! Despite those bastards on the Supreme Court banning it from broadcast during the trial, a group of enterprising producers and actors in Hollywood are staging a re-enactment using the actual trial transcripts of the proceedings. Alyssa Weisberg, the casting director for "Lost." "Star Trek," and "Cloverfield" has offered to procure name talent for the videos. An "A-list Hollywood actress" has offered her services as well. Click here to tune in.!
- Other actual trial testimony can be seen on the web as well. Two videotaped depositions have been released for broadcast over the objections of the Prop 8 supporters who testified on videotape. You can see them here and here.
- Cindy McCain, wife of failed Republican presidential candidate John McCain, came out of the closet and declared her opposition to Prop 8 in a new TV ad adorned with duct tape over her mouth and the inscription NOH8 written on her cheek. Daughter Meghan McCain also supports marriage equality. (Senator John says he still opposes gay folks gettin' hitched but you knew that.)
- In Oakland, California, just a quick sailboat trip across San Francisco Bay from the historic Prop 8 Trial, the mayor and city council have removed a 96-year-old former Mormon temple president from the board that oversees the historic Paramount Theater. The reason he lost his job? Lorenzo Hoopes gave $26-thousand dollars to Prop 8, and the city of Oakland decided that didn't square with their civic values.
- A new study by the Election Defense Alliance (with others) now shows that the vote on Proposition 8 was in error and may have been fraudulent. You can read the entire 49-page report here. The short story: Exit polls showed a direct relation with actual votes counted on other California Propositions in 2008, but the exit polls and the vote results ONLY on Prop 8 were off by 7.5%, and by 17.7% in some precincts. An investigation is warranted, and either gross incompetence or outright voter fraud took away the right to marry for gay people in California. I have read the entire report and the vote results look pretty shaky to me. I heard rumors of fraud at the time, but now there is empirical evidence.
OK, back to the exciting adventure in jurisprudence that is the Prop 8 Trial itself:
Monday was a national holiday and the court took a recess while civil rights advocates around the country reflected on the struggle of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the fact that black people have more rights than homosexuals--they can marry legally.
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders spun an emotional tale of
turnaround, telling the court how he was about to come out publicly against gay
marriage but changed his mind when he realized that he would be discriminating
against his own daughter back in 2007.
"I think the decisions I made were grounded in prejudice," he
testified. Sanders' daughter Lisa came
out in 2003 and got married in Vermont
just last year.
Prop 8 defense attorney Brian Raum tried to twist Sanders' testimony against Prop 8 by getting him to admit that Prop 8 supporters did not necessarily hate gay people. Sanders replied that support for Prop 8 did not automatically make someone a bigot, but that "I believe they were saying an entire class of people doesn't deserve the same treatment in their relationships." Furthermore, said the Republican mayor, "if government tolerates discrimination against anyone for any reason, it becomes an excuse for the public to do the same thing." Sanders said he once supported civil unions as being the same thing as marriage, but had changed his mind.
University of Massachusetts professor Lee Badgett then testified
that the loss of gay marriage in California
has cost the state several hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue over
a 3-4 year period. She also stated that
allowing same-sex marriage did not impugn nor harm heterosexual marriage, and
that marriage is superior to domestic partnership.
A young gay man, Ryan Kendall, told the court about being forced into "conversion therapy" to convert him from being gay as a teenager. Kendall's parents treated him harshly when they found out he was gay at the age of 13 in a conservative Christian home in Colorado Springs and they sent him to a Christian therapist and then the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality in Encino, California from ages 14-16. He left it because he became suicidal after 2 years of preachers trying to convert him to heterosexuality. When he came out, he said, "I was just as gay as when I started."
Stanford political science professor Gary Segura made the point that gays and lesbians have little political power and cannot count on friends in high places due to a stigma attached to politicians who support gay rights. This is an important point, because if a group is treated differently by law, the court must decide if that law violates the constitution.
Prop 8 defender David Thompson cited recent victories for gay rights, including the election of a lesbian mayor in Houston (Annise Parker) and the election of an openly gay legislator, John Perez, as Speaker of the California Assembly. He made the point that President Obama has been a vocal supporter of gay rights. Professor Segura countered that Obama has done nothing to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and has not repealed the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy affecting gays in the military. "This is not a reliable ally," he said. "We have to look at the disconnect between rhetoric and action."
Thompson shot back that Prop 8 opponents spent $43-million to defeat the measure while supporters only spent $40-million dollars, pointing out that gays had enough clout to raise that kind of money. Segura noted that there has been progress in the law, but that some protections are subject to the whim of voters"like Proposition 8! Hey! He said that 200 initiatives restricting gay rights have been on state and local ballots nationwide since 1999 and that more than 70-percent of those actually made it into law. Hate crimes have increased from 14% in 2005 to 17.7% in 2008, according to the FBI. "Polls show that the American public is not very fond of gays and lesbians" and is more hostile to them than racial or religious minorities. "Religion is the chief obstacle to gay and lesbian progress," Segura concluded.
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