January 10, 2013
By Adam Bink, Jacob Combs, Rick Jacobs and Scottie Thomaston
Today, we at Courage Campaign Institute are thrilled to announce that we are re-launching the site as EqualityOnTrial.com. This will be the permanent home of the blog, so Prop8TrialTracker.com will re-direct to EqualityOnTrial.com. The same coverage of all things LGBT when it comes to the courtroom continues, and we’ve even added a few new features (more on that below).
A little history and explanation are in order. About three years ago this month, Courage Campaign Institute launched Prop8TrialTracker.com to cover what was then known as Perry v. Schwarzenegger, principally because the Supreme Court ruled that live streaming of the case would not be allowed. Three weeks later, at the end of January 2010, we’d become the go-to site for live-blogging the historic trial, generating over 1 million views and tens of thousands of comments. By the end of this month three years later, Prop8TrialTracker.com has over 5 million views and over 150,000 comments from readers like you. We are the #1 Google search result for “Prop 8 trial” and the work of our intrepid bloggers and commenters has been referenced by USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle and other outlets.
Today, we shift to a new URL/domain and add some new features. We are doing this for a few principal reasons.
First, over the course of the trial, many in the comments have called for our writers to cover more than just the Prop 8 case. Many of you have added your own links and commentary in the comments, Quick Hits, and more. So we’ve expanded to cover every move in the entire slate of Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) cases (not just the one going to the Supreme Court), other state-based lawsuits on marriage equality like Garden State Equality et al v. Dow (New Jersey), Darby v. Orr and Lazaro v. Orr (Illinois); other federal marriage cases like Sevcik v. Sandoval (Nevada) and Jackson v. Abercrombie (Hawaii), cases on bullying, sexual orientation conversion “therapy”, discrimination in employment and other realms, and much more. We did this because there were (and are) few other news or blogging outlets dedicated to covering every move of every case, in depth, with laypeople’s analysis, expert analysis from legal observers, explaining what the news means, etc.
Second, it became clear over the trajectory of the Prop 8 case that the judicial avenue towards achieving LGBT equality is becoming ever-more important in contrast to other avenues such as the legislative route. Indeed, come June 2012, because of that judicial avenue, Section 3 of DOMA may be struck down and marriage equality may be legal nationwide depending on the ruling in the Prop 8 case. What’s more, community attention reflects this increased importance. Over the last few years, more and more people started writing in asking about the timeline in this case, what a judge’s order in that case meant, what would happen to people living in such-and-such a state if a decision went this way, and so forth. You see that in the comments here. We adapted to answer those questions.
However, covering this work posed an interesting problem in that our hub was still Prop8TrialTracker.com (a name that refers to a case which, come June 2013, will no longer need “tracking”). The blogging staff here commonly received two questions: “Why is a website with the name Prop8TrialTracker.com covering these other cases?” And “why aren’t you guys covering even more of this stuff in depth?”
In the fall of 2012, the blogging team here, along with our technical team at Richir Outreach in North Carolina, set out to resolve these questions. After several months of work, here’s what changes:
1. A new URL/Domain. As mentioned above, this site will now be “EqualityOnTrial.com.” Prop8TrialTracker.com will re-direct to that URL. Please bookmark it as such! Our Twitter feed will remain @EqualityOnTrial.
2. We’re going mobile. One of the chief suggestions for improvement has been the lack of a good mobile user experience, such as on an iPhone. So, with funding from your contributions, we tasked our tech team at Richir Outreach with developing a mobile version of the site. It will launch the week of January 14 and we’ll let you know when it does. It will be much easier to follow EqualityOnTrial.com when you’re on the go.
3. A one-stop shop timeline history for prominent LGBT equality cases. One common suggestion we received is to create one place to follow all major events in all the prominent marriage equality and DOMA cases — oral arguments, briefs, orders, decisions, all that. Neither Wikipedia nor news organizations provide this. Jacob Combs took on the monumental task and poof, we’ve now got this huge reference tool. You can find it in the header navigation bar above, at right. Poke around and check it out! As always, let us know if you have suggestions: we’re here for and made by you.
4. We’ve freshened up the design. As you can see, the colors, logo and general theme of the site are fully redesigned, while the layout remains largely the same. Look for more photos in posts over the next few months as we expand our blogging.
5. We’re going to travel to cover Equality when it’s on Trial… live. Starting with the Supreme Court oral arguments on March 26-27 concerning Prop 8 and DOMA, and supported with your generous contributions, our staff will travel to cover more cases live when there are oral arguments and hearings, so you can get first-hand observations.
So it’s a fresh start, and while we’re nostalgic about Prop8TrialTracker.com, we’re excited to evolve and expand. We hope you like these improvements. We’re not perfect, so please give us your feedback and suggestions. If you find a technical problem or have a suggestion, please e-mail it to us by clicking here (firstname.lastname@example.org) — don’t just leave it in the comments. It really helps us make things better more quickly. Follow us on Facebook and on Twitter and don’t forget to bookmark the new and improved EqualityOnTrial.com.
Thanks for making this such a strong community.