Perry v. Schwarzenegger: day two synopsis

Timothy Kincaid

January 12th, 2010

Today’s testimony consisted of two witnesses (thanks again to Courage Campaign):

Professor Nancy Cott, author of Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation, continued her testimony about the meaning of marriage. She explained how marriage evolved from the government directing gender roles as we moved from an agrarian society.

Cross-witness sought to get Cott to own the statements of other marriage supporters so as to get her defending ideas other than her own but she wasn’t having it. Opposing counsel tried to get her to make predictions, she didn’t.

Then opposing counsel sought to show that marriage was actually Christian doctrine filtered through marriage law. (I can think of a few reasons why he really wouldn’t want to go there, one being that Olson/Boies can put the leaders of several denominations on the stand to talk about Christian doctrine).

In redirect, Cott explains that same-sex marriage was not likely to lead to polygamy because the central theme to marriage is consent and the central theme to polygamy is despotism. (Interestingly, if “children” is the sole purpose of marriage, then polygamy could be a next step – or, rather, a step back to tradition).

In the afternoon, Terri Stewart questioned Dr. George Chauncey, an expert in LGBT studies. Dr. Chauncey gave a lengthy discussion about discrimination and oppression of gay people in America.

Dr. Chauncey showed how the themes of Anita Bryant’s “Save Our Children” campaigns in the 70’s were successfully carried into the 80’s and 90’s and are the central themes of Proposition 8. He sees them as part of a continuum.

Stewart: Do you believe Prop. 8 ads perpetuate the stereotypes of the history you describe?

Chauncey: I think they do, but they are more polite than the Anita Bryant ads. Society has changed such that what you can say in polite society is different, but most striking is the image of the little girl who comes in to tell her mom that she can marry a princess. There\’s a strong echo of this idea that simple exposure to gay people will lead a generation of young people to become gay.

Cross examination tries to paint Chauncey as “an advocate”. They tried that with Cott. I’m not sure what’s going on there as I think it’s clear that all witnesses on all sides are probably going to be advocates for their position. Certainly Blankenhorn is.


January 12th, 2010

thank you for the synopsis, Timothy, it is very welcome.


January 12th, 2010

(it’s especially welcome to get a report from a “friendly” source, I felt pretty not-ok about listening to the opposition’s side of this, this morning on the radio on way to work – eventually I will, but right now it’s great to read about it here)


January 13th, 2010

I never do this, but see also here, for thematic summary.


January 13th, 2010

I wanted to marry a princess when I was little too. And my female babysitter. I’m 35 and when I was a kid, gay people were largely closeted. I’d never been aware of meeting one until I was about 12 or 13. And now, while I consider myself “open” to possibilities, by and large I’d have to say I’m straight. So to say that either exposure leads to homosexual behavior or not is ridiculous. I wanted to marry a girl before I even knew what “gay” was. Kids go through phases and most grow out of them. But to say that those for whom being gay is the right fit should have to be marginalized and risk everything (in the way of inheritance, if no other way) is completely ludicrous! Wake up and bring us into the 21st century.

Excellent commentary, btw ;)

Regan DuCasse

January 13th, 2010

As I recall ‘the people’ voted overwhelmingly to have the trial televised live. 132,000 to 32.

Guess that majority vote can be put aside after all, can’t it?

Richard W. Fitch

January 13th, 2010

Regan – It was only the majority of the ‘people who voted’. Now 132,000 is really a rather meager sum, isn’t it? Certainly this can’t be construed as a ‘true’ amjority! ;-)

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