Friday, January 15, 2010

Excerpts from Prop 8 Trial Proceedings

In which Masters Chauncey and Thompson spar over semantics

In my search for live-blogging and reporting from the San Francisco high court Proposition 8 Trial proceedings, I have waded through a myriad of gay and legal blogs searching for excerpts which would put a focus to the direction of the arguments.

The blog which had the most precise excerpts also had the worst commentary and was entirely too San Francisco in its language and its satire. So I had to pull out those which kept to the thread of the argument. Not an easy task, it took me the better part of two hours, and was mainly disappointing in the extreme.

But I did manage to glean that thus far, what has been stressed, are these main points:

1. That an "animus" without reason or the ethics of reason may have been at work with Tam, other Prop 8 backers, and many Mormons

2. That gay males are suspect regarding AIDs and promiscuity

3. That the focus on children is not being cross examined in any indepth way

4. That Chauncey is serious, and that Thompson has a sense of humor :

Chauncey: “I would hardly call Yale a bellwether of public opinion in the United States.” Thompson: “Thank heavens.”

[. . . ]

h8er: Shouldn’t parents who disapprove of gay marriage request that their kids not have to learn it? Chauncey: Well — what about if parents disapprove of blacks and whites being together? Should parents be able to prevent their kids from reading about that in public schools? Gay marriage is a fact of life in Massachusetts. If parents have a problem with that, they can send their kids to private school.

[Thompson]: "It is true that Americans believe that homosexuals are more likely to get AIDS than heterosexuals, correct?”

. . . As quoted directly from Hogarth’s liveblog: “Now Thompson is getting absurd. He is asking Chauncey a whole line of questioning about how many religious groups and churches support marriage equality, that they are evolving. “ Also, Thompson tries to prove this by showing a video clip of Rick Warren. Um, what. Thompson is trying to collapse the whole really fantastic line of reasoning and relevant history that Chauncey put together yesterday . . .

Stewart: Does Prop 8 say anything about when sex ed takes place? What parents can teach their kids? What parents can object to in what’s in the schools? Chauncey: Yes. Stewart: Are there fairy tales (childrens books) of men and women falling in love? Chauncey: Yes, of course. Stewart: Are heterosexual weddings considered an “adult issue” that children are not exposed to? Chauncey: No, children are present and even play a role in heterosexual marriages.

"Would you agree that the practice of monogamy in gay male relationships is different than in heterosexual relationships?" : Cross-examining attorney quotes a 25-year-old study that says “sexual exclusivity” may be “more the exception than the rule” in gay male relationships. That sexual affairs can be a “complement” to a steady relationships.” This was probably conducted by someone who got burned by Brian Kinney and anyhow listen, lady, I bet 25 years ago sexual exclusivity was more the exception than the rule for you too, who knows what you were like in college.

Into Day Four: Mercury News; Live Reporting: Gay Marriage would bring $35 million per year to the city of San Francisco, economic expert testifies : In which civil rights and economic expedience meet in the trial of Proposition 8.

9 a.m.: Day 4 testimony begins with S.F. economist

The fourth day of the Proposition 8 trial is in session with Edmund Egan, the chief economist for San Francisco. Egan has been called to testify on the financial impacts on San Francisco of denying gay and lesbian couples the right to marry, and he testified immediately that there are "negative" impacts on the city's economy. His testimony is central to San Francisco's direct involvement in the case, as city lawyers argued they could show that Proposition 8 harms local governments around the state.

9:27 a.m.: Economist: S.F. would save money if gay marriage were legal

San Francisco economist Edmund Egan continues to testify under questioning from plaintiffs attorneys. He has identified several areas where he believes the city and county of San Francisco would save money if gay and lesbian couples were permitted to marry, including in public health costs for mental health services to gays who experience discrimination, reduction in bias-related violence against gay students in public schools, and in reducing public costs for health insurance if more gay couples were married and secured their own health insurance. Asked whether those economic benefits would apply to other cities, he testified: "I think that principle would work more broadly than San Francisco."

Egan was unable to provide hard numbers on the savings if same-sex marriage were allowed, which is likely to be brought up when he is cross-examined by Proposition 8 lawyers.

The plaintiffs plan to call two other witnesses today: Ilan Meyer, a Columbia University expert on mental health impacts on gay couples from discrimination, and Helen Zia, a lesbian who was able to marry before Proposition 8 was approved by the voters in 2008.. . . .

9:51 a.m.: Economist: Gay marriage would bring $35M a year to S.F.

San Francisco economist Edmund Egan has finished up questioning from the plaintiffs side, estimating at one point that the city and county could realize more than $35 million per year if same-sex couples could marry because of revenue from weddings, hotels, sales tax and so forth as a result of those ceremonies. The estimate was based largely on about 5,000 marriages that took place in San Francisco in 2008, before Proposition 8 went into effect. Egan is now under cross-examination from Proposition 8 lawyer Peter Patterson, who is questioning Egan's assumptions, including the fact the economist hasn't weighed the financial benefits of domestic partnerships.

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