This may be my favorite bit from the Prop 8 ruling yet (findings of law, p. 128):

To the extent California has an interest in encouraging
sexual activity to occur within marriage (a debatable proposition
in light of Lawrence, 539 US at 571) the evidence shows Proposition
8 to be detrimental to that interest. Because of Proposition 8,
same-sex couples are not permitted to engage in sexual activity
within marriage. FF 53. Domestic partnerships, in which sexual
activity is apparently expected, are separate from marriage and
thus codify California’s encouragement of non-marital sexual
activity. Cal Fam Code §§ 297-299.6. To the extent proponents
seek to encourage a norm that sexual activity occur within marriage
to ensure that reproduction occur within stable households,
Proposition 8 discourages that norm because it requires some sexual
activity and child-bearing and child-rearing to occur outside

Ooh, that’s gotta sting. “We tried to have sex and raise children within the bonds of holy matrimony, like you said we should, but you wouldn’t let us!”

Would you like your ass of fundie well done, or extra-crispy?

Prop 8 Ruled Unconstitutional

You’ve probably heard it by now, but a federal judge has ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional (; mirror).

(In case you’d forgotten, Proposition 8 was a ballot initiative that took away millions of Californians’ right to marry, on the grounds that they love the wrong kinds of people.)

Any moment now, I expect to hear explanations of how earthquakes, wildfires, el niño, the poor box office showing of Mel Gibson’s next project, and Pet Shop Boys concerts are all expressions of God’s wrath.

/me raises a Cosmopolitan (which several sites list as a contender for the gayest drink ever) to the Californian gay community.

Update, 18:04: Tony Perkins of the Patriarchy Family Research Council criticizes the ruling, on the grounds that, well, one-man-one-woman is how it’s always been. He also compares this ruling to Roe v. Wade. Which, I can’t help noticing, the right-wingers still haven’t managed to overturn despite decades of trying.

No word from NOM NOM NOM yet.

Update, 18:17: NOM tweets

NOM Decries Federal Court Decision Invalidating Proposition 8. http://ow.ly/2l9qm #prop8 #NO4M

Full text of their rebuttal:

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Update, 18:30: An obviously butthurt Heritage Foundation whines about “judicial activism”.

Update, 19:20: Newsweek/WaPo’s On Faith has a roundup of religious people’s reactions.

Update, 21:56: Hemant Mehta points out this kook fight, where Liberty Counsel bitches at the Alliance Defense Fund for not letting them help defend Prop 8 in court.

Prop 8 Trial: They Got Nuthin’

Just to remind everyone, in 2000, California passed Proposition 22, which said that California would not recognize same-sex marriages, even out-of-state ones. In 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that Prop 22 was unconstitutional, and furthermore, that marriage is a fundamental right. This gave gays the right to get married in California. Then, later in 2008, Prop 8 amended the state constitution to say that only opposite-sex marriage is valid or recognized.

I mention this to make it clear that Prop 8 took away a right. A right that courts have called fundamental.

So anyway, Prop 8 was challenged in court, and we’re finally approaching the end, with closing arguments presented yesterday. The wheels of justice certainly turn slowly, and one can only hope that they grind exceedingly finely.

So you’d think that after months of lead time, both sides would bring their A game and try to make a compelling summary for why their position is correct. You’d be wrong, as witnessed by this exchange between pro-Prop 8 attorney Charles Cooper and judge Vaugn Walker:

Walker: “Why is it that marriage has such a large public role? What is the purpose?”

Cooper: “This relationship is crucial to the public interest. Procreative sexual relations both are an enormous benefit to society and represent a very real threat to society’s interest.”

Walker: “Threat?”

Cooper: “If children are born into the world without this stable, marital union both of the parents that brought them into the world, then a host of very important, very negative social implications arise…. The purpose of marriage is to provide society’s approval to that sexual relationship and to the actual production of children.”

Walker: “But the state doesn’t withhold marriage from people who cannot have children.”

Cooper: “It does not.”

Walker: “Are you saying the state should?”

And this one:

“What testimony in this case supports the proposition?” Walker asked.

“You don’t have to have evidence of this,” Cooper said.

This gives some insight into the world that the anti-gay folks inhabit. The usual expression is “I don’t know what you’re smoking, but where can I get some?”, except that I like my drug trips to be better than reality.

Apparently, on planet Conservo 8, homosexuality is so appealing that if it isn’t forbidden, restricted, and blocked at every turn, everyone will instantly turn gay, stop having children, and the human race will die out. Entire continents will be devastated by the Fabulous Blight.

The only reason people get married, there, is to have sex and children. Love has nothing to do with it, nor are people allowed to decide for themselves why they should get married. Couples who fall out of love after they’ve had children are not allowed to get divorced (unless they’re straight, I’m guessing), and adoption is evil (since the child doesn’t grow up with its biological parents).

But I do have to give the anti-gay side some credit. For a long time I thought the only arguments against gay marriage, or gay rights in general, were religious, and should therefore not be used as the basis for legislation under a secular government. Turns out I was wrong: as the above shows, there are also secular arguments.

The remaining question is, are there any arguments against gay marriage that are neither religious, nor pants-on-head retarded?

Update, Thu Jun 17 11:10:03 2010: The best argument I’ve seen in the reporting about the closing arguments is that Prop 8 honors “the will of the people”. This does carry a certain weight: in a democracy, we the people get a say in the laws that govern us.

Of course, just because something is popular doesn’t mean that it’s right: slavery, denying women the right to vote, Prohibition, and segregation used to reflect the will of the people as well, but I think we’ve grown up since then.


If anyone hasn’t gotten their fill of Prop 8 trial coverage, here’s a bundle of links:

First of all, mercurynews.com’s day-by-day coverage of the trial. Mercury being, like, an actual news outlet with presuambly journalistic standards, I figured it’d be best to lead off with them. (Free registration required. Or bugmenot. Or, as it turns out, just leaving JavaScript disabled bypasses their compulsory registration system. Huh.)

The Alliance Defense Fund, who support marriage by refusing it to people who want to get married, have their own roundup.

It’s pretty dry, and generally makes a game attempt at hiding the WTF, mostly by being short on details. But the façade isn’t perfect, e.g.:

Professor Chauncey also had a frustrating habit of falsely linking the motivations of those who supported Proposition 8 to those who supported racial segregation a half century ago. He reluctantly agreed that there is nothing wrong with voters considering their individual moral values to decide how to vote on an issue, but then added that people supported racial segregation because of their moral beliefs. People also use their personal moral values to support environmental legislation or health care legislation. Does that mean those voters are just like those who supported racial segregation?

If you’re one of those weirdos who like facts (ugh! Ptooey!) in their arguments, you might be interested in the American Foundation for Equal Rights’s official trial transcripts.

But my favorite is Autostraddle’s Judgment Daze series. Yes, Rachel and Riese are as biased as the ADF (though in the other direction), but Rachel writes like a gay Wonkette, which counts for a lot, and includes links and videos and tasteful pictures of hot women kissing.

Naturally, both sides think they’ve won, and we won’t know which side really really won until the judge rules in, I think, late February. But I’m feeling cautiously optimistic. As in Kitzmiller v. Dover, the defense witnesses don’t seem to be all that familiar with the value of consistency or critical thinking, things that, I gather, count for a lot in a courtroom, especially when there’s no jury to be swayed by emotional appeals.

I also understand that the prosecution wants to show that Prop 8 was motivated primarily by anti-gay animus, and that a bigoted majority can’t just take away the rights of a minority. Sounds like they did a fine job with the examination of Hak-Shing Tam, who basically regurgitated every homophobic stereotype and urban legend you’ve ever heard, and whom the defense side nudged under the bus a bit.

Other arguments, like “marriage is all about raising children” were countered by, say, the observation that the Netherlands have had gay marriage since 2001 or so, and still does not resemble a Mad Maxian apocalyptic hellscape.

But just in case the judge decides that keeping definitions constant is more important than allowing people to pursue happiness, I think I have the perfect solution:

In the last day of testimony, David Blankenhorn said:

Even in instances of a man engaging in polygamous marriage, each marriage is separate. He — one man marries one woman. That’s the way it works.

The scholars then have pointed out that in certain societies, many societies, men of wealth and power then go on to marry additional women. They do not marry as a group. It is not a group marriage. It permits certain men that have access to power to marry more than one woman. Each marriage is a separate marriage of one man and one woman.

So let’s say a guy marries a woman. He then marries another woman, thus forming a family of three. They then divorce the guy, leaving two women married to each other, all fairly within the confines of the traditional definition of marriage.

It could even lead to a cottage industry of professional brides and grooms, who’ll marry any two people for a reasonable fee.

Way to Undermine Your Case

Today’s WSJ has an article about the Proposition 8 suit in California:

Defenders of California’s ban on same-sex marriage began making their case Monday, countering the plaintiffs’ argument that gays and lesbians are subject to discrimination.

Which is all well and good until you see the photo that ran next to the article:

Prop 8 Discrimination

So this guy is holding up a sign saying “No gay rights”. Right in front of the courthouse in which the lawyers for his side are trying to argue that gays aren’t discriminated against.

I believe that counts as an own goal.

Gay Marriage Opponent Doesn’t Know What the Harm in Gay Marriage Is, Either

This AP article recounts a revealing exchange between a California judge and a lawyer arguing that Prop 8 should be maintained:

“What is the harm to the procreation purpose you outlined of allowing same-sex couples to get married?” [Judge] Walker asked.

“My answer is, I don’t know. I don’t know,” Cooper answered.

Moments later, after assuring the judge his response did not mean Proposition 8 was doomed to be struck down, Cooper tried to clarify his position. The relevant question was not whether there is proof that same-sex unions jeopardize marriages between men and women, but whether “the state is entitled, when dealing with radical proposals to make changes to bedrock institutions such as this … to take a wait and see attitude,” he said.

Walker pressed on, asking again for specific “adverse consequences” that could follow expanding marriage to include same-sex couples. Cooper cited a study from the Netherlands, where gay marriage is legal, showing that straight couples were increasingly opting to become domestic partners instead of getting married.

“Has that been harmful to children in the Netherlands? What is the adverse effect?” Walker asked.

Cooper said he did not have the facts at hand.

“But it is not self-evident that there is no chance of any harm, and the people of California are entitled not to take the risk,” he said.

“Since when do Constitutional rights rest on the proof of no harm?” Walker parried, adding the First Amendment right to free speech protects activities that many find offensive, “but we tolerate those in a free society.”

This buttresses something I’ve thought for some time: that the “gay marriage will undermine traditional marriage” argument is just a headline with no body, no substance behind the talking point.

The judge also has the right attitude: that when it comes to rights, the question is not “is there any reason to grant this right?” but rather “is there any reason to deny it?” (except that in the case of Proposition 8, we’re talking about taking away an existing right).

As for the decline of marriage in the Netherlands, let’s assume for the sake of argument that it’s true: that the dropping marriage rate there is directly caused by a liberal zeitgeist that makes people less likely to want to get married, while simultaneously promoting the right of gays to get married should they so choose.

So. Fewer (straight) couples are getting married. Should they be compelled to do so? Obviously not. Presumably the couples in question aren’t being harmed, or else they’d get hitched. What about harm to the children, as judge Walker asked? If there is, the gay marriage opponents might have a case. Cooper couldn’t name any. And as long as the discussion over gay marriage has been going on, if there were anything to this argument, you’d think he or his clients would know.

In short, I have yet to hear an argument against gay marriage that doesn’t boil down to “I don’t like it”. I do sympathize with this, really. But come on, rectifying inequality has got to trump “I don’t like it”.

What? Protests Change Minds?

When I
earlier about participating in the “No on Prop 8” demonstration at the
National Mall, I was rather dismissive of the notion that it might
affect anyone’s opinion.

However, SurveyUSA published a
about Prop 8 with an interesting result. People who voted for Prop 8
were asked “Have the protesters changed your opinion on Prop 8?”. 8%
of them said yes.

Continue reading “What? Protests Change Minds?”

A Gay Outing

It’s funny how you never see the sights and do the “local” stuff in your own town. I went to Paris once, and stayed with a friend who had lived there for sixteen years, and had never gone up the Eiffel Tower until I dragged him.

Me, I’ve lived in the Washington DC area for years and years and had never gone to a protest. Which seems a shame: people come from all over the country to march and protest here. For me, it’s just a Metro ride downtown.

So when I found out that there was going to be a
series of coordinated protests
against California’s Proposition 8 across the country, I figured I
should go. I’m neither gay nor Californian, but I figured I could
raise the body count. Especially since the “coordinated” part meant
that the ones in Maryland and DC were going to start at 1:30. I pity
the poor Hawaiians, who had to be out on the streets by 8:30.

Continue reading “A Gay Outing”

Putting Money on the Races

I’ve just chipped in to two more races:

  • No on Prop 8, against California’s proposition 8, which would amdend the state constitution to ban gay marriage.
  • Kay Hagan, who’s running for Senate in North Carolina, because Elizabeth Dole is a loathsome bigot.

Because when a woman who knows how to use a whip and handcuffs
tells me to,
I must obey.