Friday, January 22, 2010

Prop 8 Trial, Day 8: Boycotts, Vandals and "The Gathering Storm"

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In trying to keep you all informed with daily updates of the Perry vs. Schwarzenegger Prop 8 challenge in California, my biggest obstacle is that I'm not a lawyer and I don't speak legalese so I've had to rely on daily summaries done by other bloggers. Today, I thought I'd try to do the wrap-up of yesterday's highlights myself. (Wish me luck.)

The day started off with a continuation of cross-examination of Prof. Gary Segura who provided expert testimony about the political powerlessness of Gays and Lesbians, despite the bits and pieces of progress we've made. Their side tried to suggest that when California approved domestic partnerships, our community cheered, Segura pointed out that DP's are preferable to having no rights, not preferable to full marriage rights.

The pro-H8 tried to show that when people voted according to their religious beliefs, they were not being bigoted or homophobic. They also tried to use the calls for boycotts of businesses that supported Prop 8 as a reason why people voted for Prop 8. Segura pointed out that boycotts are a tool used by the politically powerless and are an American tradition going back to the Boston Tea Party and were successfully used by African-Americans during the Civil Rights Movement.

Their side showed news footage detailing isolated incidents of vandalism, fist fights and theft of "Yes On 8" yard signs as proof that people voted for Prop 8 because they were afraid of gays. Segura explained that sometimes individuals behave badly and that even though it's bad P.R. for the movement, it was not enough to significantly effect the way people voted. He also pointed out that many of these events happened after the vote.

Taking advantage of that fact that the pro-H8 side had introduced evidence that occurred after Prop 8 was voted into law, attorneys for the plaintiffs introduced the notorious ad "The Gathering Storm", produced by The National Organization for Marriage, into evidence to illustrate the misinformation and scare tactics used by proponents of the ballot measure to gain support for their side.

The afternoon session saw the the most action as Hak-Shing William “Bill” Tam was called as a hostile witness. Tam, an evangelical Christian, wrote the verbiage on the Prop 8 ballot and was heavily involved with orchestrating events in support of Prop 8, including creation of a website for Asian-Americans that posted a story he wrote with the headline, "Studies Show That Homosexuality Is Linked to Pedophilia". Tam was one five Prop 8 proponents who tried to get out of having to before the trial started.

The pro-h8 side has tried to distance themselves from Tam because his involvement shows that religious-based homophobia was the driving force behind the ballot measure.

To follow the trial updates as they occur, click the Prop 8 Trial Tracker links at the top, right of the page.

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