April 28, 2010
By Paul Hogarth
So now we finally have a date for Closing Arguments for the Prop 8 trial — Wednesday, June 16th, or 156 days after the start of the Trial. By now, we’ve heard the evidence, we know what’s been said, and there’s been a lot of analysis on this site about what it means for the outcome, our movement, and our lives.
But besides setting a date for closing arguments, Judge Walker set a date for the defense counsel to submit their motion to suppress at least part of Dr. Tam’s testimony. As you recall, Dr. Tam was the right-wing San Francisco minister who believed that his kids will turn gay if marriage equality was allowed to remain. We’ll find out on May 7th how much of the testimony they want stricken from the record, and what is their basis. Our side will have until May 10th to then file an objection.
So what happens if Dr. Tam’s testimony is taken out? Dr. Tam was powerful evidence that Prop 8 was driven by animus and a hatred of homosexuals, which would be enough to strike Prop 8 — even under the more lenient “rational basis” grounds set up in Romer v. Evans (1996.) But while Dr. Tam’s testimony is damning and it should be kept in, there was a whole lot of other evidence that our side presented. In fact, when it came time for the defense to produce their “experts,” there wasn’t a whole lot of reason they could provide.
If it’s impossible to dream up a “rational” basis for deny LGBT people the right to marry the person they love, and all the reasons the defense provides is merely a subterfuge for bigotry, Prop 8 must be found unconstitutional. Dr. Tam’s testimony was the most dramatic and forceful, but our side put on a good case tying other “rationales” for Prop 8 to be simply animus. In fact, I would argue the strongest witness we had for our side was San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders — who explained how he came to the realization that his so-called “friendly” reasons for opposing gay marriage had merely been based out of irrational discomfort.