Federal Prop. 8 Trial: Monday Recap

Federal Prop. 8 Trial: Monday Recap

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6069a - Arguments for and against marriage equality fell along familiar lines in the first day of the federal Proposition 8 trial in San Francisco, with equality proponents saying marriage is a constitutional right that should be extended to a minority subjected to longstanding discrimination, and opponents arguing that marriage has been immutable throughout history and is a primary vehicle for “responsible procreation” between heterosexuals.

Outside Supreme Court Building

Trial proceedings in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger began shortly after 9 a.m. in the small, wood-paneled courtroom of U.S. district judge Vaughn Walker. Though opening statements and testimony were videotaped, the U.S.
Supreme Court has yet to rule whether the trial can be ultimately broadcast. Walker announced at the outset that more than 138,000 people had submitted public comments regarding broadcast of the proceedings and that only 32 of those were opposed to the broadcast.

Opening statements were followed by personal and often emotional testimony from the two gay couples who were denied marriage licenses by the state after the California Supreme Court upheld Prop. 8 last year. A Harvard University professor and expert on the evolution of marriage in the United States also testified later in the afternoon.

Ted Olson, a conservative attorney and former solicitor general under President George W. Bush representing the four plaintiffs, immediately summarized the suit in stark terms. “This case is about marriage and equality,” he said. “Plaintiffs are being denied both the right to marry, and the right to equality under the law. The Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly described the right to marriage as "one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of the happiness of free men.’”

Olson further argued that Prop. 8 added “yet another chapter to the long history of discrimination” against gays and lesbians” that “perpetrates irreparable, immeasurable, discriminatory harm—for no good reason.

“Proponents of Proposition 8 have insisted that the persons they would foreclose from the institution of marriage have suffered no harm because they have been given the opportunity to form something called a "domestic partnership,'" Olson said. "This is a cruel fiction."

Olson and his team made many references to historical oppression against African-Americans in regards to marriage, including the 1967 Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia, which struck down laws barring interracial marriage. In a Martin Luther King Jr.-tinged sentiment regarding gay couples ability to be parents, Olson said that, “The quality of a parent is not measured by gender but [by] the content of the heart.”


 

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