Perry v. Schwarzenegger: day three synopsis
January 13th, 2010
Again much appreciation to Courage Campaign for their liveblogging (along with others in the media). As the US Supreme Court has decided that, for now anyway, the proceedings will take place out of the sight of the public, their contribution to creating an informed public is of immense value.
The Defense’s cross-examination of History Professor George Chauncey continued. Prop 8’s David Thompson sought to get Chauncey to agree that gay people are not really subject to discrimination. This is an attempt to battle Olson/Boies’ goal of establishing sexual orientation as a
subject suspect class and thus more highly protected from discrimination.
(Because race is a
subject suspect class, the legal assumption is that any discrimination against them is probably unconstitutional. Left-handedness, not currently an oppressed minority subject to regular and insidious discrimination, is not a suspect class and therefore they need to prove that any specific discrimination against them is unconstitutional).
Thompson also sought to get Chauncey to agree that not everyone who opposes marriage (e.g. our “fierce advocate”) does so out of bigotry. He attempted (unsuccessfully) to get Chauncey to agree that a portion of the gay community opposed marriage and therefore supported Proposition 8. Chauncey responded, “The right to marry evolved and became a more widespread and deeply held goal of the gay and lesbian community.”
In redirect Terri Stewart had Chauncey draw parallels between the growing desire in the gay community for marriage to that of the black community who did not seek desegregation when they were simply seeking basic existence.
She had him illustrate that while some faiths were supportive there was strong religious animosity to gay people. Chauncey read from statements from the Vatican and the Southern Baptist Convention. Their point is that sincere religious objection to gay equality can be based in stereotypes and bigotry, just as were sincere religious objections to racial equality.
And then we find out exactly why Hak-Shing William “Bill” Tam sought to be removed from the case. Stewart played a tape of their deposition of Mr. Tam. It seems that Mr. Tam was invited to be an integral part of the campaign focusing on outreach to Asians. He raised substantial amounts of money and orchestrated rallies. He wrote to Asian language newspapers and produced flyers.
One flyer claimed that the San Francisco city government was under the control of homosexuals who wanted to legalize sex with children. Tam feared not only same-sex marriage, but children would learn about gay people and then become gay themselves. Tam seemed to believe that Proposition 8 would stop gay couples from being able to adopt.
Next to testify was Dr. Letishia Peplak, a social psychologist from UCLA with extensive credentials on same-sex relationships. She is an expert on four issues: (a) marriage brings important benefits, (b) relationships between same-sex and heterosexual couples are similar, (c) gay couples who can marry have the same benefits, (d) gay marriage will not harm heterosexual marriage.
Peplak testified that same-sex relationships are very similar to opposite-sex relationships in terms of stability, durability, process, and level of love.
She said that while there is no evidence, it’s been suggested that homosexual relationships are shorter. She also testified that heterosexual co-habitation relationships are shorter than married relationships. She reported a study that married same-sex couples in Massachusetts reported being more committed and to having more benefits.
Nicole Moss questioned Peplak in cross-examination. Moss argued that a 25 year old article shows that gay men are less monogamous than heterosexual married men. Peplak points out that is an “oldie” from a time when gay relationships were secretive. Moss continues with outdated studies of non-representative sample groups.
Peplak has said that she is not an expert on relationships in foreign nations, but Moss presented statistics on marriage in Belgium and the Netherlands. In Belgium 5% of gay couples marry compared to 42% of heterosexual couples. In the Netherlands, 8% of gay couples and 43% if straight couples marry. (I hope that the plaintiffs have statisticians that can speak to the meaning of these numbers and whether they accurately explain current marriages as opposed to cumulative marriages).
Peplak notes the discrepancy with the Massachusetts numbers and speculates that American gay couples may be more pro-family.
In redirect, Peplak notes that studies about lack of monogamy were from a time when there were neither marriage nor domestic partnerships.
Overall, I’m not getting the impression that Peplak was a stellar witness.