Proposition 8 on Trial


California's gay-marriage-banning Proposition 8 is facing a court challenge, and thanks to the Supreme Court of the U.S., we can't follow along from home on TV.

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The L.A. Times on the Supreme Court's reasoning:

By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court this afternoon extended its order blocking video coverage of California's Proposition 8 trial, ruling that the defenders of the ban on same-sex marriage will likely face "irreparable harm" if the proceedings are broadcast to the public.

"It would be difficult -- if not impossible -- to reverse the harm from those broadcasts," the court wrote in an unsigned opinion. The witnesses, including paid experts, could suffer "harassment," and they "might be less likely to cooperate in any future proceedings."

The high court also faulted U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker for changing the rules "at the eleventh hour" and permitting limited video coverage of the divisive case. "This case is not a good one for a pilot program" to allow broadcasting of federal trials, the court said....The court's order means that the trial can be seen only inside the courthouse in San Francisco.

For those of us who can't be there, the L.A. Weekly has been summing up some of the testimony. Some highlights from its coverage:

the testimony of Yale professor George Chauncey at yesterday's Proposition 8 trial in San Francisco showed exactly why a courthouse video feed is so important -- ordinary Americans would have watched Chauncey detail over 100 years of homophobia in America.

It's a disturbing history many people have little knowledge about and continue to contribute to as they approve such things as same-sex marriage bans in present day America.

Chauncey said some past examples of homophobia include how gays and lesbians were not allowed to congregate in bars; how undercover cops entrapped gay men and sometimes ruined their lives; and how if you were found out to be gay while serving in the military during World War II, you were discharged and not allowed to apply for the GI Bill, which helped many veterans to be more competitive in the post-WW II economy.....

Jesus was in the house when pro-Prop. 8 attorney cross examined history Professor Nancy Cott in the U.S. district court challenge to California's ban on same sex marriage. He asked her if contemporary marriage laws have ties to Christianity and if the concept of monogamy is a result of what society has learned from Jesus and his apostles.....

Earlier in the day she was asked if procreation was the purpose of marriage. She said no, using President George Washington as an example: He was sterile when he married later in life. "Procreative ability has never been a qualification for marriage," she testified.

The San Francisco Chronicle discusses the gay plaintiffs in the challenge to Prop 8:

"I'm proud to be gay. ... I love Jeff more than myself," Paul Katami, 37, of Burbank testified in a packed San Francisco courtroom. "Being gay doesn't make me any less of an American." But with voters' November 2008 passage of Proposition 8, which amended the state Constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman, "being gay means I'm unequal," Katami said.

"I've been in love with a woman for 10 years, and I don't have a word for it," said Kristin Perry, 45, who lives in Berkeley with her partner, Sandy Stier, 47, and their four children. "I do everything I can to be a contributing and valuable member of the state, and the state isn't letting us be happy."

The two women - along with Katami and his partner of nearly nine years, 36-year-old Jeff Zarrillo - are suing to overturn Prop. 8....

Conservative jurist Theodore B. Olson, who is one of the lawyers arguing the anti-Prop 8 case, explains why in a Newsweek cover story.

The image associated with this post was taken by Flickr user Dave Schumaker. It was used under user Creative Commons license.

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