Even though "nothing" will be decided by this trial alone and many seem to think that the conservative bent of SCOTUS will scurry any chance victory over Prop8, I feel optimistic about this whole process. It feels important to me for many reasons. If anything, this trial exposes on record the campaign of ignorance and fear that bigots have waged against GLBT people for generations. This is the record & evidence that will be presented to SCOTUS. This is the evidence they will have to review. It feels good to see these views brought into a courtroom and put under the lamplight of logic and reason. The shame of course is that it is not being seen or heard by the general public. SO PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT THIS TESTIMONY. Send the liveblogging links and/or your own summaries to your friends and family. Post it to your Facebook, Tweet it, send a crayola covered hallmark card to your mom and grama! etc.
Linky 1 firedoglake.com/prop8trial
Linky 2 : Prop8trialtrackers.com
Yesterday morning David Boies (for the the Plaintiffs) continued to skewer the Defendant's "expert", Kenneth Miller, about the political power of Gays & Lesbians. Again, this is important because it shows that G&L people are treated as a suspect class by the majority. The issue of why or why not the Majority (i.e. voters) should be able to vote on a bill that limits the rights of a minority (i.e. gays and lesbians) is very pertinent. The defense brought this guy on because he wrote a book about how civil actions in court overrun the will of the people, i.e. courtroom activism is a "Danger to Democracy" or some rot. This is to show that the courts should not change rulings when their voted into law by the will of the majority.
First off, the experts are laughable. The judge more or less said that if this were a jury trial, both witnesses from yesterday might have been excused by the judge because clearly neither were experts in what the Defense claimed they were and both were there just to lend an emotional i.e. non-rational non researched argument to the Prop 8 cause. Mr Miller, for one, was doing so bad even the commentators on the live blogs were feeling sorry for this guy. His whole testimony is saturates with "Um..." "I don't know," "I didn't research that," "Well.." "Um..." "I can't ..." Many times Boies has had to repeat his question and literally parse it down to nail this guy to the board to get a yes or no answer. He was either very evasive and/or appearing just outright ignorant. I, for one, don't feel sorry for the guy. He can hang in the wind for all I care. If anyone has the nerve to write a book and declare themselves and expert in any thing then they better damned well be prepared to answer questions on the subject. Especially when that subject affects the lives of so many people. As far as I'm concerned, let the bitch squirm.
The second witness, Mr. Blankenhorn- who was debunked earlier in the trial by Dr. Lamb- was not much more informed in his subject but much more abrasive to Boies. Under direct examination by Thompson (Defense), Blankenhorn waxed on and on oh-so-eloquently about the purpose marriage centering around raising bio kids and said his "research" - using the term very very loosely - shows the best thing for kids is to have a Mom & Dad. But at one point, I'm sure by accident, in regards to Domestic Partnerships, he also said- under direct examination by the Defense— that "Discriminatory and morally wrong to call two things that are the same different names." Commentators say the audience watching the live feed howled at this remark.
In turn when Boies cross-examined him, Blakenhorn tried and tried to give his little speeches about what he "felt" and "thought" but Boies cut him off. It turns out, his research was nothing of the kind. You see gay marriage is bad for kids cause you know they need both mom and dad, because.. you know because he had "thought about it for a long time"... and "that was my own instinct". I'm not kidding, he literally said his research relied on 'instinct'. Time and time again he tried to explain what he "felt" and "thought' but he could point to no data, no direct sources, for his "research." In short, Boies exposed that this man editorialized on everything and researched very little. Even the judge agreed that he was hardly and expert and poor Mr. Blankenhorn, meanwhile, was actually taken aback that someone would demand numbers and stuff to back up his claims. because "it never occurred to (him) that all of the views that (he) stated had to tie to documents at end of book."
This is where I loose my shit, personally. It is not ignorance but pure unethical intellectual dishonesty and fucking injustice when a man who calls himself an "expert" dares to put on a tie and arrive in a courtroom and proclaim what MARRIAGE means to society in a legal setting- knowing that his words will affect the very daily lives of people all over this country, but for fucks' sake —DON'T BOTHER TO HAVE SO MUCH AS A FOOTNOTE ON HAND. This isn't funny anymore, it's en-ragingly fucktarded. You fucking asshole. GTFO.
Read the summary from prop8trialtrackers.
January 26, 2010
by Brian Leubitz
The Defendants continued their case today by calling David Blankenhorn. If you were watching the liveblogging today, you will notice that Blankenhorn is at times combative, and as Rick points out, a little “pastorly.” While he was perhaps more comfortable talking to crowds and in the witness stand than Prof. Miller, he also crumbled on cross-examination. How far did he stray from the defendants talking points? This far:
DB: I believe that adoption of same sex marriage would be likely to improve the well-being of gay and lesbian households and their children.But, Blankenhorn started out in a far different place. Unlike Prof. Miller, Blankenhorn doesn’t have a university and a doctorate to shield himself behind. Sure, he does have a master’s degree in a questionably related field, but he did talk to a few people while writing his book. Oh, and he worked on a task force for President Bush the elder. But as for actually looking at the actual data, not so much:
By objecting, Boies was arguing that Blankenhorn was, in fact, not a qualified expert. Judge Walker noted that if it was a jury trial, he might not be admitted, but as their is no jury to prejudice, he allowed it. And, it is probably fortunate that he did. Because for all of Blankenhorn’s geniality, he couldn’t really escape his underlying problem: testifying before a judge isn’t about how friendly you are, or how pleasant you can be, it’s about the facts of the case. And Blankenhorn either didn’t know them, couldn’t remember, or just plain attempted to make them up. Take this exchange, where Judge Walker was getting visibly frustrated:
Boies: You are aware that there are jurisdictions that have permitted same sex marriage?
DB: I am so aware.
Boies: Have you attempted to study effects of same sex marriage in any of these jurisdictions?
DB: Yes, but I want to explain my definition of study.
Boies: I’d like to explore this in an orderly way. Which countries?
DB: Tried to pay some attention to effects of same sex marriage in Scandinavia and Massachusetts. But I have not conducted scientific study with data. I have talked to people and read about it. I did not come up with expert findings on those subjects.
Boies: Your honor, I object.
Oh, jeez, you big city lawyer, I didn’t realize that as an “expert” witness I had to base my testimony on documented facts rather than my own opinion or how I would think the real experts would answer.
Judge Walker: Than why don’t share your answer?
Boies asks question again.
DB: I believe that some of the scholars believe that permitting same sex marriage would lead to deinst(itutionalization) of marriage. And goes on…
Judge Walker: Shall I take that as a “I don’t know?”
DB: With respect your honor, I do know the answer. I said it and I can repeat it.
Judge Walker: (Quite exasperated) The record is quite clear on what you said.
Boies: What scholars said that same sex marriage will lead to lower marriage rates?
DB: It will take me a few minutes to compose my memory.
Boies: Let’s be sure you know what is being asked. Which scholars that you have named with Cooper assert that de-institutionalization of marriage will be hastened by same sex marriage and will lead to lower rates of heterosexual marriage.
DB: Professor Norval Glenn said that. He’s one of the most distinguished family scholars.
DB: Prof. David Popenoe from Rutgers is another one.
DB: Popenoe says that same sex marriage will reduce hetero marriage rates. I can’t sit here right now that I cannot prove in exact word formulation what he said. If he were sitting here, I believe that’s what he would he say.
Boies: I am asking you to tell us what these people have written, not what you think they’d say if they were here, or what you believe they think. Do you understand the difference.
DB: Of course I do.
Boies: Answer my question.
DB: I am trying to the best of my ability. I came all the way from NY to be here to answer your questions to the best of my ability. I believe that Popenoe asserts that deinstitutionalization of marriage will lead to lower marriage rates, but I do not know if he mentioned same sex marriage.
Boies: While we were talking, I was looking at Professor Glenn’s paper. I don’t see that it mentions same sex marriage?
DB: It never occurred to me that everything I would say regarding my views had to be documented. I have studied this for twenty years. Maybe I made a mistake, but it never occurred to me that all of the views that I state had to tie to documents at end of book. If it did, this would have had many more scores of documents listed.
This last statement is really rather stunning coming from a witness who was put on the stand as an expert. He essentially admitted that he doesn’t know how real academics work, or how a bibliography works, or really the subject matter that he is supposed to be testifying upon.
At the end of the day, Blankenhorn is like a scared 7-year old who hasn’t studied for a history test. I almost expected his last answer to be Yeti or Santa Claus. He was reaching, grasping for anything he could possibly reach. But, even he had to acknowledge that marriage equality would help gay and lesbian families. Blankenhorn is, after all, the guy who wrote a New York Times op-ed with Jonathon Rauch arguing that the federal government should repeal portions of DOMA and allow same-sex couples the rights of married couples, just not the name. Separate but equal. Everything but the name. Just make sure that gay and lesbians are just one step behind.
While Rauch might disagree, it is the hasty compromise of a man who sees the truth for what it is. Marriage would benefit gay and lesbian families. It wouldn’t harm straight families.
The Constitution’s promises of equal protection under the law will eventually win out. Separate but equal is anathema to the Constitution, and Blankenhorn’s career has been a story of a man fighting to keep small minds small. Today, he got called on it.