Perry v. Schwarzenegger: day four summary

Timothy Kincaid

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.

Shanna

January 14th, 2010

Thank you for this comprehensive coverage.

I believe Meyer’s testimony was, indeed, strong and I’m almost blown away by some of the seeming ignorance or blatantly decisive things stated by Wilson & Patterson; almost insulting, even, I’d have to say.

This case is so very important to the cause and I just want to thank you for bringing it to us in such stunning detail and making such a wonderful record of it for posterity, Timothy.

Matt

January 14th, 2010

I’m very glad for BTB’s coverage of this trial. Your site, and the corresponding live-bloggers, should be eligible for some kind of gay cyber-Pulitzer.

I’m curious, how long is the prosecution’s case expected to take to present?

Timothy Kincaid

January 14th, 2010

They plan on finishing next wednesday

Lindoro Almaviva

January 14th, 2010

And that is when the circus will really begin. And I hope that they call every anti-gay person to the stand and have them vent their bigotry for all the world to see.

Eddie89

January 14th, 2010

Hell, just get Fred Phelps and his clan up on the stand and the Judge and just render his verdict right on the spot!

Bearchewtoy75

January 14th, 2010

@Lindoro Almaviva

“I hope that they call every anti-gay person to the stand and have them vent their bigotry for all the world to see.”

Me too, but I’m sure they’ll play it smart and get bigots who know how to talk pretty.

ZRAinSWVA

January 15th, 2010

Very clever to have Meyer read from Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask. The quoted text is just so glaringly not reality for the majority of lesbians and gays.

Thank you, Timothy, for keeping us so well informed on this issue!

Alan

January 15th, 2010

There was an innacuracy in Egan’s testimomy.

He said married couples have better health than those who aren’t married, a questionable assumption that more recent research has challenged.

It’s a common belief that’s part of society’s bias against those who aren’t married. And I’m hoping that the coming of gay marriage won’t make this bias any worse.

Especially since family forms are becoming more diverse, beyond the typical romantic couple (straight or gay).

Priya Lynn

January 15th, 2010

Alan said “He said married couples have better health than those who aren’t married, a questionable assumption that more recent research has challenged.”.

Let’s see that research Alan – I’m highly skeptical that married couples don’t have better health.

Alan

January 15th, 2010

You can go to Dr. Bella DePaulo’s website:

http://www.belladepaulo.com

She also has a book, Singled Out, which disputes these claims.

My hope is that gay marriage would increase acceptance of a greater variety of family forms. But I can now see how it might lead gay couples to join straight couples in discriminating against those who aren’t like them…

Alan

January 15th, 2010

And I can see why married couples would have better access to health insurance.

But, assuming equal access to health insurance, why wouldn’t an unmarried couple or single person have poorer health?

Priya Lynn

January 15th, 2010

Alan, in that link she implies there is research to that effect but she does not demonstrate any of it.

Jason D

January 15th, 2010

Yeah, I’d like to see that, too. From what I’ve read, those in committed relationships, especially those that are married typically have better health for a few reasons. One of which being spouses often coerce or force their reluctant husband or wife to go to the doctor, something they would not do on their own. Also the tendency to see one’s health as more important when other people are relying on them.

Alan

January 15th, 2010

You need to follow the links to her blogs on Psychology Today or Huffington Post, where she discusses the research. Or you can read her book.

Sorry Jason, but those are old stereotypes of singles being irresponsible and disconnected. Even if you’re single, you still can have people who rely on you. And a sense of responsibility about your health. Or a desire to set a good example.

And it doesn’t even take into account single parents, or couples who live together but aren’t married.

Priya Lynn

January 15th, 2010

I would think if there was research supporting these claims it would be readily available.

Alan

January 15th, 2010

Umm, the research is indeed available in libraries and online databases Priya. If you read Dr.DePaulo’s posts or her book you can get the references in question.

Or try emailing her with your questions, I’m sure she could point you in the right direction.

Or you could look up the Alternatives to Marriage Project. I’m sure they could provide you with the info too.

That’s assuming that you’re interested in the topic. If you’re not, that’s fine, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
Just as long as you’re not using lack of interest as an excuse to maintain prejudice.

Priya Lynn

January 15th, 2010

I assure you Alan, I have no prejudice against single people – I spent a lot of years single myself.

Jason D

January 15th, 2010

“Sorry Jason, but those are old stereotypes of singles being irresponsible and disconnected.”

Funny, I didn’t mention either of these. Alan, that’s YOU drawing conclusions from two rather commonly observed benefits of being in a relationship.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with being single, but pretending that the benefits of a relationship don’t exist isn’t going to win you much respect.

How many times have we heard a story where a woman says “and if I hadn’t MADE HIM go to the hospital, we wouldn’t have found out about the ____ in time.”

It’s rather telling that you assume that any statement of benefits for couples is somehow a slam or “discrimination” against single people.

Timothy Kincaid

January 15th, 2010

Alan,

There is an assumption that single men (and perhaps women as well) are greater risk takers than married men. And greater risks lead to greater health issues.

One presumable measure of health could be auto safety. We know that auto insurance companies have lower rates for married men than for single men. And we know that these rates are based on actuarial tables that measure incidences of accidents.

I would imagine that this is consistent with other measures of risk, including both the physical type (mountain climbing) and the less direct type (more nights drinking in bars).

I have no studies to point to other than observation and testimony like that presented, but I think I would need more than “Dr. DePaulo says so” to change my thinking on this issue.

JoAnn Egan Neil

January 15th, 2010

Just found your site after a Google search for Perry vs. Schwarzenegger. I just LOVE the Box Turtle masthead – and, of course, what you’re fighting for here. I support you. Just wrote a post the other day on the gay-marriage debate.
Good luck.

Alan

January 15th, 2010

Jason-

Perhaps I jumped the gun in assuming that you were referring to these stereotypes. Know that it was because I’ve all too often heard the benefits of being in a relationship used to criticize singles directly or indirectly.

Tim-

Actuarial tables don’t exactly strike me as adequate proof either. So, like I told Priya, I’d point you to either Dr. Paulo’s book, DePaulo herself, or to AtMP for additional information, if you want more information

I’d like to think that since BTB fights discrimination against gays, people here would be more open and accepting of other groups experiencing discrimination, and less likely to automatically accept stereotypes.

Jason D

January 15th, 2010

Alan, I’m not sure how this one researcher can be more acceptable to you than the well established field of Actuarial Science.

As to discrimination against single people, I don’t think most of us we even aware of “single” being a group. Having been single myself (and who knows, I might be again someday) I have yet to have experienced this discrimination for myself or seen it acted up on others in any fashion.

You come in here with a hard sell and act as if this is some type of hotbed of discrimination-happy hypocrites, when I have yet to see an example of stereotypes and bigotry against single people in this or any other thread.

This post was talking, in part, about what’s good about being in a relationship — surely you don’t suggest that talking favorably about the committed is somehow automatically a slam on the single?
Does that mean that when I talk about how much I am glad that I’m alive, that I’m totally dissing my recently deceased grandfather?

Alan

January 15th, 2010

Jason-

As I said, I’m not denying that there are benefits to relationships, just that sometime those benefits are used to castigate those who are not in relationships.

And I’m not saying that people here discriminate against singles…but there are discriminatory attitudes towards singles in this society, just as there are against gays. Not nearly as severe, but they do exist.

Which you would know if you used any of the resources I’ve been recommending to others here…there are multiple sources, not just Dr. DePaulo. Actuarial tables are perfectly acceptable, but they’re used to tell insurance companies about risk, NOT to provide detailed information about various groups.

You and most others aren’t aware of discrimination against singles. That’s fine, it’s a very new idea, one that most people hadn’t heard about. It takes time…just look how long anti-gay discrimination took to come to national attention.

But I was hoping the people here would understand the importance of acknowledging these negative attitudes, even if they’re an order of magnitude less than those experienced by gays.

Because what I hope is that once gay marriage becomes a reality nationally (and it will) people will recognize and respect a variety of family forms.

And since I’ve taken this topic way off course, I’ll close with that.

Timothy Kincaid

January 16th, 2010

Alan,

I agree that singles are often discriminated against. I have been known to refer to Valentine’s Day as the day designed to make single people feel insignificant and miserable.

I also have friends who are married who don’t want children who feel the same way. Last month a friend told me how it feels to be with other married women who assume that “there must be a problem” and who “feel so sorry” for her. She loves her happily married child-less life but hates being pitied.

I’m sorry you are feeling excluded, but the testimony is pretty clear that on average married people live longer, are healthier, and are happier.

Marriage may not be for you. And that’s fine. Life would be very dull without single people – and historically, many of the world’s greatest contributors to literature, science, and philosophy were single (though that may also be because many of them were gay).

Alan

January 16th, 2010

I’m glad to hear that Tim.

But I wanted to add one or two more things before I’m done.

You said “the testimony is pretty clear”. I’d say maybe not”:

The Terman Life Cycle Study, which has been running since 1921, has found the longest-lived people either married and stayed married, or stayed single their whole lives.

A study of psychological well-being by Gove and Shin found married people had an average happiness of 3.3/4, always single people 3.2/4.

The Lifelines of Happiness study in Germany showed that marriage only increased happiness 0.25 out of 10 points, and then only for the first two years. Prior to marriage married and single people had similar levels of happiness (7.2/10 and 7.0/10).

And according to the CDC, similar percentages of married and single people report fair or poor health, 11% and 13% respectively.

So, in closing, given these small differences I’d say things are not in fact so clear.

Richard Rush

January 16th, 2010

I think Alan raises some valid issues regarding the lives of single people (although I might quibble about use of the word “discrimination,” though). The lives of single people often seem to get lost in our marriage-centric society. And I say that as someone who has been with the same partner for 28 years.

One thing that has sometimes troubled me about seeking marriage equality for gays is that I think about single people being in a less secure place than the rest of us while we get all the goodies. But although I may sometimes be troubled, I recognize that in our quest for equality, marriage is the final hurdle, after which all the other equality issues will mostly melt away.

I know many single gay people who seemingly want partners, but for a variety of reasons have been unsuccessful. So I avoid discussion of the marriage issue with them. Life can be tough for single people on several levels. (This is one of the main reasons I support comprehensive health insurance reform, even though it won’t benefit me personally since I’m on Medicare now.)

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