Perry v. Schwarzenegger: first day highlights
January 11th, 2010
As the trial is not, at present, available on YouTube, I am relying on the excellent liveblogging provided by the Courage Campaign’s Rick Jacobs. Here is how the first day went:
Ted Olson gave his opening remarks, laying out his case.
During this trial, Plaintiffs and leading experts in the fields of history, psychology, economics and political science will prove three fundamental points:
First – Marriage is vitally important in American society.
Second – By denying gay men and lesbians the right to marry, Proposition 8 works a grievous harm on the plaintiffs and other gay men and lesbians throughout California, and adds yet another chapter to the long history of discrimination they have suffered.
Third – Proposition 8 perpetrates this irreparable, immeasurable, discriminatory harm for no good reason.
Then Therese “Terry” Stewart, counsel for San Francisco, asserted that Proposition 8 was economically disadvantageous to the city. He argued that perceptions of second class citizenship lead to hate crimes, a cost that can be avoided.
Charles Cooper, counsel for Protect Marriage is going to show that marriage is about children in a nuclear family, that gay people are powerful and not disadvantaged and that gay marriage would lead to higher divorce rates and lower rates of marriage. It appears that he will be relying predominantly on the testimony of David Blankenhorn.
The supporters of Proposition 8 seem to have argued the peculiar idea that none of the ads they ran encouraging voters to vote for the proposition should be admissible. The judge isn’t buying it, but the ridiculous Gathering Storm ad was not allowed because it was produced after the election.
The proponents, Jeffrey Zarrillo, Paul Katami, Kristin Perry, and Sandra Stier testify about how not being allowed to marry disadvantages their lives and makes them feel unequal. Opposing counsel chooses not to cross examine the women.
Finally Professor Nancy Cott, author of Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation provides testimony about how marriage is not just a contract between two people but a contract between individuals and their state. She discusses the history of marriage in our nation, how it is unique from other nations, and how it was the definitive indication of a free people.
From the liveblog
The ability to marry, to say I do, is a civil right. It demonstrates liberty. This can be seen in American history when slaves could not legally marry. As unfreed persons, they could not consent. They lacked that very basic liberty of person to say I do which meant they were taking on the state’s obligates and vice versa. A slave could not take on that set of obligations because they were not free.
When slaves were emancipated, they flocked to get married. IT was not trivial to them by any means. They saw the ability to replace the informal unions with legalized vows that the state would protect. One quotation, the title of an article, “The marriage covenant is the foundation of all our rights,” said a former slave who became a northern soldier. The point here is that this slave built his life on that civil right.
She refers to Dred Scott who tried to claim he was a citizen. He was denied that claim. Justice Tawny spent three paragraphs saying that marriage laws in the state in which Dred Scott was prevented him from marrying a white woman was a stigma that made him less than a full citizen. It was a piece of evidence that shows that he could not be a full citizen.
This is some pretty heady stuff.