Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor



Critical Prop 8 case starts
News update, Monday, Jan. 11, 2010
by Lisa Keen, Keen News Service

This article shared 3179 times since Wed Jan 13, 2010
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

SAN FRANCISCO—The trial to challenge the anti-same-sex-marriage initiative Proposition 8 in federal court got underway Monday, Jan. 11 in San Francisco, but the opening acts were upstaged in Washington, D.C. just minutes before the proceeding began.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy asked the full court to weigh in on the fairness of allowing videotaped proceedings of the trial be made available on YouTube and on closed-circuit television in courthouses outside San Francisco. The one-page order, from which only Justice Stephen Breyer dissented, blocks viewing of the courtroom activities until at least Wednesday at 4 p.m. Eastern.

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush who is presiding over the case, told the courtroom Monday that his office had received 138,574 comments from people regarding whether to make the court proceedings available for delayed viewing on YouTube; only 32 of those opposed the idea, he said.

Walker, who is chief of judges in the District Court for Northern California, looks like a slender Burl Ives and has the voice of a Walter Cronkite. His style as a judge is both congenial and aggressive.

Rather than allowing lead attorneys on both sides to deliver their requisite opening statements through soliloquies, Walker jumped in frequently, challenging various statements and asking what evidence the attorneys would be submitting to prove their claims.

"This case is about marriage and equality," said Ted Olson, the conservative legal icon who is leading the team challenging Proposition 8. "The Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly described the right to marriage as 'one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men;' a 'basic civil right;' a component of the constitutional rights to liberty, privacy, association, and intimate choice; an expression of emotional support and public commitment; the exercise of spiritual unity; and a fulfillment of one's self."

But before Olson could get much further into his prepared remarks, Walker interrupted with a question.

"Does the right to marriage mean you have a right to a marriage license from the state?"

"If the state regulates marriage, yes," said Olson.

"Why?" asked Walker

Olson seemed to acknowledge that the question was puzzling to him.

"Why does the state have a duty to issue a marriage license?" asked Walker. Olson said there were a number of reasons why the state chose to be in the business, for instance, to protect persons who might be too young. And then Olson tried to return to his prepared remarks.

Later, playing devil's advocate again, Walker paraphrased an argument frequently used by opposing counsel, Charles Cooper, and asked why the court should even be involved in this dispute.

"Mr. Cooper frequently makes the point that the court should not involve itself" in this dispute, said Walker. "That this is just the playing out of the political process. Why shouldn't the courts stand back?"

"Because that is why we have courts," said Olson. "That is why we have a constitution. ... We wouldn't need a constitution if we left everything to the political process."

Walker challenged San Francisco's chief deputy city attorney, Therese Stewart, during her opening statement to explain what evidence she would offer to support the city's claim that allowing

same-sex marriage licensing would create a $3 billion surplus for the city. He prodded counsel representing the California Attorney General's office to explain why a law Attorney General Jerry Brown has said he considers unconstitutional to be put on the ballot.

When Cooper, the lead attorney for the Yes on 8 team, delivered his opening statement he said the people of California, in passing Proposition 8, were not seeking to express animosity for gay people but rather to "preserve the traditional definition marriage … that has prevailed in virtually every society in recorded history."

He noted that President Barack Obama has also expressed opposition to same-sex marriages, and Walker interrupted.

"If the president's parents had lived in Virginia, their marriage would have been unlawful," said Walker, referring to the fact that Obama's mother was white and his father was African-American. "Doesn't that indicate there's been quite a change in our understanding of what people are entitled to marry? Couldn't an argument be made that there's been a similar evolution with respect to same-sex marriage?" When Cooper tried to argue that marriage is primarily a vehicle to promote procreation and the well-being of children, Walker prodded him to explain why values such as companionship and support are not also important aspects of marriage. And when Cooper tried to characterize the pursuit of marriage equality for same-sex couples and an effort to radicalize the institution of marriage,

Walker challenged him to explain "what evidence" he would show to support that idea.

In one particularly amusing exchange, Walker asked Cooper to explain what evidence he would present to support his contention, in court papers, that allowing marriage licenses for same-sex couples would lead to a state of law in which bisexuals would have to be allowed to participate in "group marriages"—or polygamy.

Cooper said the argument was based on logic.

"If an individual has a right to marry the person of his or her choice to express love and have public recognition of that love," said Cooper, then it would be "difficult to say to a bisexual, if that individual loves two people, that that individual doesn't have the same right to express their love [ for two people simultaneously ] and have their love recognized by the state."

"It's not a far-fetched assumption in light of modern concepts of family," said Cooper.

"And it's not unheard of among heterosexuals, is it?" quipped Walker.

The first witnesses

There were a number of humorous and serious moments during this first day of trial—particularly during testimony by the lawsuit's four openly gay plaintiffs—Kristin Perry, Sandra Stier ( pronounced steer ) , Jeff Zarillo and Paul Katami.

In trying to respond to attorney David Boies, Olson's chief co-counsel in the case, about why he didn't think a domestic partnership was good enough, Katami, a 37-year-old group fitness manager in San Francisco, offered the metaphor of putting a Twinkie at the end of a treadmill and giving the person on the treadmill just one bite.

"I want that whole Twinkie," said Katami. He elaborated to explain that he wants "full marriage" not just partial benefits.

All four plaintiffs spoke movingly about how much they value their personal relationships and how much hurt and anguish they felt at hearing and seeing the "Yes on 8" campaign ads that suggested gay people and same-sex marriage posed some threat to children.

Perry, 45, a native of Illinois who moved to California when she was two, is a 25-year veteran

of working in governmental agencies that seek to protect vulnerable children ages birth to five. And one of the reasons she and Stier wanted to get married was so that their own four children would have a clear understanding of their relationship.

When one uses the term marriage, said Perry, "children know what your relationship is …and other people know what your relationship mean."

All four plaintiffs conveyed their discomfort with having people misunderstand who their "partners" were, assuming they had a business relationship, not a lifelong personal commitment to each other.

Stier said it's distressing when she goes to "our son's school to pick him up and I have to explain who I am."

"Domestic partner or partner are not really that commonly known [ terms ] ," she said, "and it doesn't reflect our relationship in a way that feels authentic. We're not business partners, we're not social partners, we're not glorified roommates."

When they must fill out forms at school, said Stier, the choices are "mother or father—never a place to say Parent 1 or Parent 2."

"In the doctor's office, they ask are you single, married, or divorced," she said. The term marriage, she explained, "provides a sense of inclusion in the social fabric."

"I want to have that and would feel more respected by other people," said Stier. "I could hold my head up high. And I want our children to feel proud of us—not worried about us or that our family isn't good enough."

The testimony by plaintiffs was aimed at emphasizing both the injury done to gay people by being excluded from marriage licensing and also the hostility they experienced from the messages conveyed during the "Yes on 8" campaign.

That discrimination and hostility will bolster the plaintiffs' contention that is a law that is based on animus for gay people and, in so doing, runs afoul of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Romer v. Evans. In that case, the high court struck down a ballot initiative approved by Colorado voters in 1992 to ban gay people from protection under all discrimination laws.

The history of freedom

The fifth and last witness of the day was Harvard American history professor Nancy Cott who was brought in to testify as an expert in the history of marriage in the United States.

Cott told the court that Yes on 8 attorneys' contention that marriage has always been between one man and one woman is simply "inaccurate."

"There have been many forms of marriage that are not one man and one woman," said Cott, adding that polygamy was sanctioned in ancient Judaism and is prevalent in Muslim cultures today.

She said the prevalence of monogamy in the United States is attributable to "the success of Christian evangelism."

Cott explained marriage as being an expression of liberty.

"Slaves could not marry legally because unfree persons could not consent" to marriage, said Cott.

Cott noted that the famous U.S. Supreme Court case involving Dred Scott was illustrative. The 1857 decision held that a Black man could not be considered a citizen of this country and was not entitled to any of the privileges of citizenship, even in states that prohibited slavery. That included the right to marry.

Cott said she sees "parallels" between Proposition 8 and the restrictions against slaves being able to marry in pre-Civil War America. Slaves still formed marriages, she noted, but slave owners could break up those relationships and did so "all the time, and no state authority gave any protection or credence to these relationships."

Cott's testimony was scheduled to resume at 8:30 Pacific time Tuesday, Jan. 12.

©2010 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

This article shared 3179 times since Wed Jan 13, 2010
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Commission: Jamaica should repeal same-sex ban 2021-02-18
- The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the top rights body of the Americas, said in a symbolic landmark ruling on Feb. 17 that Jamaica should repeal its colonial-era gay sex ban, Reuters reported. Two Jamaicans ...

Gay News

Leading groups submit amicus briefs against discrimination against LGBT surviving spouses 2021-02-08
--From a press release - WASHINGTON D.C.—AARP, AARP Foundation, SAGE and the American Society on Aging (ASA) filed amicus briefs today in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit arguing that the ...

Gay News

WORLD Honduran Congress, deportation, Canadian support, athlete comes out 2021-01-24
- On Jan. 21, members of the Honduran Congress voted to amend the constitution, making it much harder to reverse existing hard-line bans on abortion and same-sex marriage, as lawmakers double down on socially conservative priorities, Openly ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Marriage proposal, Creating Change, mural erased, 'Queer Santa' 2021-01-05
- A COVID-19 vaccine appointment at a Canton, South Dakota, hospital turned into a marriage proposal for one healthcare couple, noted. Robbie Vargas-Cortes, 31, a paramedic and EMS supervisor, was scheduled to get his vaccination on ...

Gay News

WORLD Lithuania outlook, HIV/AIDS and COVID, lawyer arrested, trans youth 2020-12-27
- Lithuania appears set to legalize same-sex civil partnerships next year, but same-sex marriage could be up to a decade away, according to Tomas Raskevicius—the country's only openly LGBT+ lawmaker, Reuters reported. "We're going to submit t ...

Gay News

Switzerland's parliament okays marriage equality, residents to have final say 2020-12-18
- On Dec. 18, the Swiss parliament approved a bill allowing same-sex couples to marry, finally bringing the nation in line with much of Europe on LGBTQ rights, reported. However, the Swiss residents themselves will have ...

Gay News

Billy Masters 2020-11-16
- "You can't say that marriage is a union between one man and one woman. Until very recently, that's what the vast majority of Americans thought. Now it's considered bigotry."—Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. So much for ...

Gay News

WORLD Canada museum, gay NZ leader, marriage items, 'Drag Race' 2020-11-09
- The embattled Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) said it's planning sweeping changes to rebuild the organization more than four months after staff came forward with shocking allegations of racism and LGBT censorship, reported. The ...

Gay News

Jennifer N. Pritzker, Erin E. Solaro wed 2020-11-02
--From a press release - Jennifer N. Pritzker and Erin E. Solaro were married in a private ceremony in Chicago on Oct. 31, 2020. Ms. Pritzker is President & CEO of TAWANI Enterprises Inc., Lieutenant Colonel U.S. Army, Retired, and Founder ...

Gay News

WORLD Taiwan marriages, Nigeria court, protests, GQ Awards 2020-11-02
- Two women became the first military officers to marry their same-sex civilian partners at a mass military wedding in Taiwan—marking another landmark for LGBTQ+ rights in Asia, reported. The island's defense ministry called it an ...

Gay News

LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus co-chairs bring resolution affirming court's marriage ruling 2020-10-30
--From a press release - Washington, D.C. - Tomorrow the Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus Co-Chairs, Chris Pappas (NH-01), David Cicilline (RI-01), Angie Craig (MN-02), Sharice L. Davids (KS-03), Sean Patrick Maloney ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Marriage support, GLSEN, LGBTQ voting campaigns 2020-10-26
- Seventy percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, according to the 11th annual American Values Survey—the highest percentage recorded by a major national poll, NBC News reported. The results found just 28 percent of respondents oppose the ...

Gay News

Pope calls for same-sex civil unions in documentary (UPDATED) 2020-10-21
- In a departure from the position held by the Vatican's doctrinal office, Pope Francis called for the passage of civil union laws for same-sex couples in a documentary that aired in Rome, NBC News noted. "Homosexuals ...

Gay News

WORLD India couple, Japan items, pro-trans writers, Nigeria job fair 2020-10-12
- In India, a same-sex couple approached the Delhi High Court seeking legal recognition of their marriage under the Foreign Marriage Act, reported. The petitioners, an Indian citizen and an overseas citizen, are two gay men ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Marriage equality, minister and trans journalist die, HRC 2020-10-12
- LGBTQ-rights advocates are warning of a renewed threat to marriage equality, NBC News reported. President Donald Trump's nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ignited fears of ...


Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.