June 14, 2010
By Julia Rosen
Win or lose this trial has done one thing very well, bring attention to the fight for marriage equality. That is one of the best ways to turn the tide of public opinion and that’s exactly why the defense fought so hard to keep cameras out of the courtroom.
These articles, in three of the biggest papers in the country never would have existed if this trial was not occurring and may not have gotten this high of a profile without the involvement of Ted Olson. Here is the WaPo talking about a recent address he gave to law students at his firm:
But then Olson took the microphone, and began to describe his crusade to overturn California’s Proposition 8 and establish a constitutional right for same-sex marriage. The two gay families he represents are “the nicest people on the planet.” He believes to his core that discrimination because of sexual orientation “is wrong and it’s hurtful, and I never could understand it.” He knows some worry that the lawsuit is premature, “but civil rights are not won by people saying, ‘Wait until the right time.’ ”
This fight, Olson told the law students gathered on a spring evening in the luxe D.C. offices of his firm, Gibson, Dunn and Cruthcher, “is the most compelling, emotionally moving, important case that I have been involved in in my entire life.”
Standing O. Another jury persuaded
Ok, so they were gay law students. Maybe Olson didn’t persuade them of anything other than the fact that he is sincerely committed to this case and equality. It isn’t about those students really, it is an article in the Washington Post about one of the biggest conservative legal minds wholeheartedly advocating for gay people’s rights.
This was in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend, with a picture from our Testimony re-enactment with Marisa Tomei and Josh Lucas.
Messrs. Olson and Boies said they will argue that their witnesses’ testimony established that gays are harmed by being denied marriage and that the institution wouldn’t be hurt by extending it to same-sex couples. “When you put in your constitution a classification that puts some people in a category that are not entitled to fundamental rights, you are making discrimination institutionalized in its highest form,” Mr. Olson said this past week.
The 29 questions Judge Walker issued this week suggest skepticism towards both arguments. He asked the defense to prove that gay marriage harms society, and to show how prohibiting gay marriage furthers a state interest in having children raised by their married biological mothers and fathers.
Judge Walker also challenged plaintiffs to provide “empirical” evidence that not being allowed to marry harms gays and lesbians. He also asked how the court could find Prop 8 to be unconstitutional without also taking up the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
We heard on our call with Olson, Boutrous and Dusseult that they will also be submitting written responses to the judge’s questions, in addition to addressing them during their closing argument.
Over at the NYT Frank Rich continues to play whack a pinata with Blankenhorn. He impressively goes from the Supreme Court ruling on television to Reker’s Rent Boy in the space of a couple lines.
When the former Bush v. Gore legal adversaries, Ted Olson and David Boies, teamed up to mount the assault on Prop 8, it was front-page news. But you may not know much about the trial that followed unless you made a point of finding out as it unfolded in January. Their efforts in this case, unlike the 2000 election battle, were denied the essential publicity oxygen of television. The judge had planned to post video of the proceedings daily on YouTube, but the Prop 8 forces won a 5-to-4 Supreme Court ruling to keep cameras out.
Their stated reason for opposing a television record was fear that their witnesses might be harassed. But in the end the Prop 8 defenders mustered only two witnesses, just one of them a controversial culture warrior. That “expert” was David Blankenhorn, president of the so-called Institute for American Values. Blankenhorn holds no degree in such seemingly relevant fields as psychology, psychiatry or sociology. But his pretrial research did include reading a specious treatise by George Rekers, the antigay evangelist now notorious for his recent 10-day European trip with a young male companion procured from Rentboy.com. And Blankenhorn’s testimony relies on the same sweeping generalization as Rekers — that children raised by two biological parents are so advantaged that all alternatives should be shunned.
What was the unqualified Blankenhorn doing at the Prop 8 trial? Like Rekers, who had a lucrative history of testifying for pay in legal cases attacking gay civil rights, he also profits from his propaganda. Public documents, including tax returns, reveal that Blankenhorn’s institute, financed by such right-wing stalwarts as the Bradley and Scaife foundations, paid him $247,500 in base salary in 2008, the most recent year for which data is available, and another $70,000 to his wife. Not a bad payday for a self-professed arbiter of American marital values who under oath described his sole peer-reviewed academic paper (from the University of Warwick) as “a study of two cabinetmakers’ unions in 19th-century Britain.” That the Prop 8 proponents employed him as their star witness suggests that no actual experts could be found (or rented) to match his disparagement of gay parents.
Brutal, right? Frank Rich sure knows how to tear into someone.
The reality is that the Prop 8 supporters are resting their legal case on the plaintiffs not proving theirs. They did little to support their experts claims and it’s likely that their witnesses were a net negative for their side. This of course will be exposed during the closing arguments. Blankenhorn in particular self-destructed and ended up proving several points for the Olson/Boies team. He is now quickly becoming a laughingstock and a punchline to a joke.
That is likely why he was so insistent on trying to clarify the record by admitting that he lied to the New York Times. Given the track record of anti-gay zealots he is lucky that he wasn’t writing to defend his straighthood.
But I digress.
Only a few days to go until closing arguments. I for one am excited, as I am sure all of our loyal readers are. But do the cause a favor on Wednesday, when you tune in to the liveblogging, be sure to invite a few friends. It is only by speaking and writing about this trial that we gain points in the polls and increase our chances in the court.