Tuesday, January 12, 2010

California's Prop 8 Trial, Day 1

Official "Vote NO on Prop 8" logoImage via Wikipedia
Opening arguments and testimony began Monday morning in federal court in San Francisco in the challenge to overturn California's Proposition 8 on the basis that it violates the US Constitution's guarantee to equal protection. Due to a US Supreme Court challenge by the pro-H8 side to Judge Walker's decision to record and post the proceedings on YouTube, no video is yet available. Justice Kennedy is expected to render his decision in the matter on Wednesday.

The pro-H8 side argues that witnesses may feel intimidated if their faces are shown to the world during testimony. Personally, I think it's a simple case of cowardice the knowledge that they have a weak case. If you can't stand proudly and publicly for what you believe in, maybe it's because deep down, you know your beliefs are wrong and their validity can't stand up to public scrutiny.

So, dear readers, pending tomorrow's decision, we have to depend on the hard work and dedication of our LGBT bloggers, who are on the scene in the courthouse and typing their little fingers off to keep us informed with the latest testimony. The best coverage that I've found is coming from FireDogLake.com's Teddy Partridge. Reading through the transcript yesterday, it felt like homosexuality itself was on trial.

In his opening statements, Ted Olson, representing the anti-H8 side said, "This case is about marriage and equality. Plaintiffs are being denied the right to marry, described by SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the U.S.) as one of the most vital personal rights pursuant to the right to the pursuit of happiness, intimate choice, expression of emotional support, the exercise of spiritual unity, the highest expression of self. It is the most important right in our society."

Following is part of the exchange between Olson and Judge Walker that took place in during Olson's opening statements:
Olson: Marriage promotes economic, mental, physical strength. It is the building block of our society.

Olson: Prop 8 ended this dream for thousands of California citizens, even though the SCOCA had defined marriage as a fundamental right, then voters slammed the door.

Olson: The plaintiffs are two LOVING COUPLES in deeply committed, longstanding, intimate relationships.

Walker: Are the plaintiffs not registered domestic partners?

Olson: We will present them and they will tell you.

Walker: What disability do they operate under b/c they can’t marry? Are these differences of a legal nature? Is this a product of state action or of society?

Olson: What the state has done is sanctioned and labelled a formal relationship called domestic partnership which has nothing to do with love. The other relationship, marriage, is now reserved for opposite sex couples. CA has put people into categories.

Walker: Does Prop 8 classify people?

Olson: Yes, it does. There are now FOUR categories of Californians, and that matters a great deal.

Olson: Domestic partnerships are lesser and not the same as marriage.
Witnesses recounted the every day discrimination they felt in being told by the state that they are less than heterosexuals.
Olson pointed out, "only opposite-sex couples over 62 years old can enter into domestic partnerships in CA."

Olson went on to outline how the state now categorizes marriage into four classes, including those who married during the window of opportunity between the Ca. Supreme Court's ruling in favor of same-sex marriage and the overturning of that ruling by popular vote: "opposite-sex, including the incarcerated. Two: those 18,000 who married during the window but cannot remarry if widowed. Three: people married elsewhere who until 1/1/10 had marriages not recognized by the state. Fourth, the people we represent, who cannot now marry."

I'll be brining the laptop to work today and will post updates as I am able.

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