Court Shown Video of Proposition 8 Supporter Comparing Gay Marriage to 9/11
On Monday, the defense in the Proposition 8 court case called their first witness to the stand, but not before lawyers arguing on behalf of the plaintiffs asked Jude Vaughn Walker to view several "simulcasts" that the founders of ProtectMarriage.com paid for to aid the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign. Despite heavy protests from the defense, Judge Walker allowed the tapes to be shown.
The simulcasts were reportedly broadcast to evangelical voters ahead of the 2008 ballot. As always, full transcripts of the trial events can be found at the American Foundation for Equal Rights and live blogging transcripts (unedited and summarized) can be seen at the Courage Campaign website, but the following were just some of the statements that were played to the court:
"[If gay marriage is allowed] then pedophiles would have to be allowed to marry 6-7-8 year olds. The man from Massachusetts who petitioned to marry his horse after [same-sex] marriage was instituted in Massachusetts. He’d have to be allowed to do so. Mothers and sons, sisters and brothers, any, any combination would have to be allowed.”
A man who petitioned to marry his horse – petitioned, but never did get that marriage license, yet Massachusetts allowed gay marriage. Anyone else seeing the problem with that argument? I don't recall the stampede of mothers trying to marry their sons, or fathers racing to marry their daughters or their livestock when gay marriage was legalized in California during the interim of marriage bans. So, no to bestiality, no to incest, no to pedophilia and no to the "slippery slope" fallacy. What have we left out? Oh right, polygamy:
“Second of all, the polygamists are waiting in the wings because if a man can marry a man and a woman can marry a woman based on the fact that you have the right to marry whoever you want to marry, then the polygamists are going to use that exact same argument and they’re probably going to win.”
And then there was the statement that no one really expected, the one where gay marriage was compared to 9/11:
“I think a helpful way to think about this is to compare it to 9/11 because a lot of us are asking: How does this directly affect us? Well I wasn’t directly affected by 9/11 and my guess is most of you weren’t either in the sense I didn’t know somebody who crashed the plane in the building. I didn’t know somebody who was in the building. But after 9/11 the world was a fundamentally different place and that has affected me. The change in the redefinition of marriage is the same type of thing.”
These simulcasts will be entered as evidence with the plaintiffs intention being that they demonstrate that Proposition 8 was motivated by anti-gay animus and that the backers of Proposition 8 traded on prejudice in order to secure victory at the ballot.
The defense then called their first witness to the stand, Prof. Kenneth Miller, a professor at the Department of Government at Claremont McKenna College. Miller testified that LGBTs are a politically powerful class in California. From the LA Times:
"Gay and lesbian interests are well-represented, can get anything they like passed through the Legislature, raise millions and millions of dollars," Miller said. "You just can't with a straight face say gays and lesbians are a politically weak minority in California."
Prof. Miller pointed to the fact that LGBTs were able to raise some $43 million to try to defeat Proposition 8, which was around $3.4 million more than the Yes on Prop. 8 team had managed, with a similar pattern being replicated in Maine during the marriage equality fight there. Miller also cited the fact that neither the Californian Governor nor the Attorney General would defend Proposition 8 when it came to the trial, and used this as evidence that LGBTs enjoy political favor.
However, cross-examination under David Boies forced Professor Kenneth Miller to put his testimony into the wider context of national politics where the landscape doesn't look quite so rosy.
Boies cited the Defense of Marriage Act and Don't Ask, Don't Tell as examples of legislation that specifically targets LGBTs and discriminates against them. Although Miller would not be sold on this being directly comparable to Proposition 8, when he was asked "Is there any other minority you can identify that is discharged from the military when they are doing a perfectly good job just because somebody discovers their status?" by David Boies, Miller was forced to reply, "I'm not aware of any." Miller then appeared to agree that both laws added up to “official discrimination.”
Professor Miller also flubbed several questions regarding early leaders of the LGBT movement, was unable to tell the court how many states currently protected LGBTs from sexual orientation discrimination, whether California had specific state protections itself, and on several occasions was not able to answer questions on whether LGBTs had more or less political power than African-Americans. This is despite the fact that a greater portion of Miller's scholarly work has centered on examining the African-American community.
Millers status as an "expert" witness was therefore called into question. From Equal Rights Foundation:
On Monday, Miller admitted that he based his testimony in part on materials provided to him by the attorneys defending Prop. 8, instead of relying on his own “expert” research. Beyond that, he testified that he could not remember whether attorneys provided at least 65 percent of the materials he based his research on, totalling well over 200 documents, articles, etc.
Cross-examination will continue on Tuesday when the defense is also expected to call their second and final expert witness. If you're thinking their witnesses are a bit thin on the ground compared to the 17 that were produced by the plaintiffs, the defense originally had many more, but, for various reasons, several of their witnesses dropped out just ahead of the trail, many of them saying that they feared retaliation from the gay community.The witness taking the stand on Tuesday is David Blankenhorn, founder and president of the Institute for American Values, an organization that promotes "traditional" marriage.
As always, the Courage Campaign is running a live blog on the Prop. 8 trial so that you can keep track of events in the court room as they happen. You can follow it by clicking here.
The American Foundation for Equal Rights is now making available full transcripts of the trial events. You can find those here.You can also follow the case on Twitter via the Twitter Feed of the American Foundation for Equal Rights.