A continuing public interest

Timothy Kincaid

December 8th, 2011

Today the Ninth Circuit heard the case of whether the tapes that were made during the Perry v. Schwarzenegger (Proposition 8) trial could be made public. This was lawyers and judges discussing whether procedural decisions made during a case that took place nearly two years ago allow or disallow the viewing of testimony made during that trial.

This is not exactly juicy stuff. But KQED radio, which was providing a live-stream broadcast on their website, maxed out viewers. There were more people interested in the arguments over tapes than could be accommodated.

Not many trials – and none about procedural methods – have had this draw. Primarily gay Americans, but truly people of all walks, orientations, and throughout the world know about – and care deeply about – Proposition 8.

There are not that many cultural milestones that divide eras of time. The assassination of President Kennedy, the fall of the Berlin Wall, these divided time into “before then” and “after then”. There are others, but when you think back over your life there are not that many events that separate.

For our community, there have been, so far, two. June 28, 1969 – the first night of the Stonewall riots – changed forever how gay people perceived the role that their sexuality played in their lives. And though it is still too recent to know for certain, I think that November 4, 2008 – the day that Californians voted to bar gay people from equal protection under the law – may have changed forever how gay people perceived their place in society.

Joe Perez

December 8th, 2011

Maybe, Timothy. But there are other events, less recent, which have shaped us profoundly. Bowers v. Hardwick, the unfurling of the AIDS quilt in Washington for the last time, Rock Hudson. I would even say the debut of Will & Grace and the movie Brokeback Mountain are right up there. The publication of my book, Soulfully Gay, alas, doesn’t make the list. ;-)


December 9th, 2011

Shouldn’t the second date in your last paragraph be November 4, 2008? That was the day of the presidential election, and Prop 8 was on the same ballot.


December 9th, 2011

Chip is correct. Prop 8 passed on November 4, 2008, not 2010. You should correct your original post, Timothy.

I would add a third event / date that changed the perception American GLBT people have of themselves and their place in society: November 27, 1978, the day Harvey Milk and George Moscone were assassinated.

Timothy Kincaid

December 9th, 2011

Chip and jpeckjr,

Yes, I typed 2010 instead of 2008.

Sorry about the typo and thanks. I corrected it.


December 9th, 2011

One thing is for certain about Prop 8: it fundamentally changed the way gays view their right to get married. Prior to Prop 8, marriage was seen as a lost cause. Most of the ballot measures prior to Prop 8 did not even face opposition, since gay orgs realized that fighting back would be throwing money away and that little would be gained by shaving a few percentage points off of an overwhelming margin of victory.

CA was different. In CA, they had marriage and now it was going to be taken away and that changed the psychology. Then they raised an astonishing amount of money, more than has been raised in any gay-related campaign ever. And when they lost by 4 percentage points, they really got that they were going to be denied something that they were entitled to have, that a possible future was being closed off for them. It was a completely different reaction from what had come before. Ultimately it turned out that that change in psychology was a necessary condition for us to win. So whatever happens with the litigation, Prop 8 likely will be seen as a turning point.


December 12th, 2011

Prop 8 brought everyone out into the streets, but Lawrence v Texas changed everything.

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