Perry v. Schwarzenegger: day four summary
January 14th, 2010
Again, thanks to liveblogging by Courage Campaign and FireDogLake
The day starts with testimony from Edwin A. Egan, Chief Economist for San Francisco. His job includes determining the economic impact of legislation.
His argument: marriage equality means more married couples. Those who marry tend to accumulate wealth, spend more, increase property values, etc. Married individuals also engage in healthier behavior which leads to greater productivity and a positive economic influence.
Egan also discussed how companies treat marriages differently from domestic partnerships when it comes to heath care.
(This direction be an argument unique to San Francisco in which, due to demographics, economic influences on the gay population can have a significant impact on the city’s economy as a whole. It may be difficult for Prop 8 to argue that such an impact is immaterial to a city like SF)
Egan discussed direct economic benefits to the city from legal marriages (event costs, hotel, restaurant). He noted that if DOMA were lifted, income taxes per couple would be reduced on average by $440, some of would be spent in the city thus increasing sales taxes and improving the economy.
In cross-examination, Peter Patterson challenged some of Egan’s calculations.
First he tries to present the idea that all of those who wish to marry already did so in the narrow window. This argument is strangely and poorly crafted by arguing that because there were few appointments for marriages in November (when marriage was not legal) then there was no demand.
Patterson made points by noting that Egan bases his three year projection on the rate of marriages during last summer, not allowing a drop off for a lessening of “pent-up demand”. Further, he argues that Egan’s estimates assume that over 100% of current couples would marry within two years (he does not allow for new couples or couple migration).
Egan may have redeemed himself by showing that his assumptions about marriage expenditures and guests are based on conservative estimates (spend 25% of what straight marriage spend and only 10% of guests from out of town).
Patterson argues that while same-sex marriages may increase, opposite-sex marriages may decrease. (This may actually be true for the short window in a city like SF. There may have been limited marriage facilities and resources and some straight folk may have waited until after the marriage window. Over time, the laws of supply and demand would provide for adequate marriage resources)
In redirect, Egan clarifies that despite dispute over the numerical accuracy of his calculation, marriage would increase health coverage and that, coupled with marriage expenditures, would financially benefit the city.
In the afternoon, Dr. Ilan H. Meyer, Associate Professor of Clinical Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, testified about the stigma and prejudice gay and lesbians individuals face in society. Christopher Dusseault is plaintiff’s counsel for this section.
Meyer argues that societal stigma assigns gay people the roll of not desiring intimate relationships and being incapable of them. Society defines intimate relationships to mean marriage, husband, wife, family and community to the exclusion of gay people. (Think The Boys in the Band)
As illustration, Dusseault has Meyer read from Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask:
What about all the homosexuals who live together happily for years?
What about them? They are mighty rare birds among the homosexual flock. Moreover, the “happy” part remains to be seen. The bitterest argument between husband and wife is a passionate love sonnet by comparison with a dialogue between a butch and his queen. Live together? Yes. Happily? Hardly.
Meyer argues that domestic partnerships do not have the same social meaning as marriages and thus Proposition 8 imposes structural stigma. He talks about social stressors, both event (a bad thing happens) and non-event (something expected and looked forward to does not happen). Because all children expect to marry some day, denying marriage to gays is a non-event stressor. Meyer identified the processes that create minority stressors as prejudice events, expectations of rejection and discrimination, concealing–not being out, and internalized homophobia.
Some stressors may have little real impact, such as filling out a form, but “the form evokes social disapproval and rejection and memories of events, including large events that have happened in the past.” So travel, banking, vehicle registration, many simple things have minority stressors with great impact.
And actual abuse need not occur for the person to experience stressors.
Many times people avoid situations, or swallow those situations of slurs and just move on because they don’t want to get into a fight, but the anticipation causes stress.
All of the additional sexual minority stressors lead to increased risk and disease.
Dusseault: Do you have a view if mental health outcomes for gay and lesbian in CA would improve if Prop. 8 were not law?
Meyer: Yes. Consistent with my work and findings that show that when people are exposed to more stress than less stress they are more likely to get sick, consistent with a law that says to gay people you are not welcome here, your relationships are not valued vs. the opposite has significant power. Clearly it’s not the only thing that determines prejudice and discrimination, but it’s a major factor.
Al Wilson cross-examined Meyer for Prop 8. Wilson tried to identify disagreement between studies and to identify exceptions between theory expectation and results.
In particular, he focused on old studies (this does seem to be a consistent but inexplicable tactic of the Prop 8 side in this trial)
Wilson: Well, were your studies inconsistent with older studies?
Meyer: No. I would say the older studies were inconsistent with my new findings.
Wilson tried very hard to get Meyer to discount his own findings. He tried to dismiss the sample size but Meyer used meta analysis. He tried to argue that population definition is impossible, but Meyer pointed out that all populations are difficult to define
You’re trying to suggest it’s some big problem. It’s not. The population is elusive in every study. This is the first step of trying to study. If I wanted to study men, I’d have to define the cohort, age, location, etc. What is a Latino? Do you include Mexicans or Puerto Ricans? The first step is to define the general population and then the sampling population.
(Meyer seems to be quite good)
Wilson: Could you ask someone if they were African American ever or were last year?
Meyer: Yes. That does vary. There are people who move into the US as Caribbean, their parents do not describe themselves as black, but after their kids socialize do say they are African American. Identities change and are responsive to the social context, but how people refer to themselves might change.
Meyer: well attraction is very fluid. Woman might say another woman is attractive, but that doesn’t make her a lesbian. for example, if you want to measure race by skin tone, you’ll have a different result than by identity. That’s why I don’t use attraction, but sometimes use identity. when you’re measuring HIV risk, you need to ask about behavior to assess exposure.
(This is an interesting response. If racial definitions were based solely on skin tones, I’ve met quite a few Latinos and even some African Americans who have fairer skin than I do. I once had one fellow lecturing me about discrimination against ‘brown people’ until I held my arm up against his. Yet my ethnic heritage and overall appearance tends to lead me to identify as “Caucasian” while theirs leads to minority ethnic identities. And discrimination and its inherent stressors are not based on either skin hues or internal attractions, they are based on internal and external identities.)
Wilson spent quite a lot of time in discussing why some racial minorities do not experience as poor mental health as might be expected within the models (the answer is because of being raised and nurtured in and supported by racial minority communities). He seemed to be dancing around the idea that gays are mentally deficient.
Wilson tried to make a peculiar (and specious) argument that if domestic partnerships stigmatize, then why would pro-gay groups have ever supported them? (Duh, because they stigmatize less than having nothing, never, ever)
In redirect, Dusseault had Meyer clarify the distinctions between racial stressors and sexual minority stressors (communities, as noted above). He also cleared up the distinction that domestic partnerships stigmatize, though not to the same extent as no recognition.
Yes, what it means that you can’t have either, the message is even more severe. If a state doesn’t offer marriage, it’s great stigma, but if a state offers domestic partnerships it’s almost like saying go to the back of the bus.
Over all, Meyer’s testimony (as liveblogged) seemed strong.