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Filed under: Background

Judge Walker’s court posts video and documentary evidence presented during federal Prop 8 trial

Cross-posted at LGBTPOV

(We mentioned this before, and really great follow-up find by Karen. Karen is the news editor at Frontiers IN LA magazine and blogs at LGBTPOV. -Adam)

by Karen Ocamb

William TamMost of us were so swept up in anticipation of, then excitement over District Court Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling last Wednesday, Aug. 4, affirming the constitutional right of same sex couple to marry that we didn’t notice that court also posted videos and documents presented as part of the Prop 8 trial. All of this material – including the actual courtroom testimony (transcripts of which are available on the American Foundation for Equal Rights website – is now part of the record going before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal.

Among the videos, is the edited (35:31) deposition of William Tam, the Executive Director of the San Francisco-based Traditional Family Coalition and a Protect Marriage spokesperson in the Asian community. Tam was the Protect Marriage witness who wanted out of the case because he said he feared for the safety of himself and his family.

Tam’s fear of retaliation by Prop 8 opponents was also referenced by the US Supreme Court on to block broadcasting of the trial (here and here) something LGBT POV’s Mark Hefflinger expanded upon in his thorough piece looking at how the Prop 8 proponents use “victimization” as a PR weapon.

During the Tam deposition, conducted in San Francisco the morning of Dec. 1, 2009 by Ethan Dettmer, a partner of Ted Olson’s law firm, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Tam admitted that he had spoken several times in public venues as well as conducted media interviews at the behest of Protect Marriage. On this edited tape, the he does not mention being afraid at any of public appearances, nor does he express fear about being a witness at trial.

This tape was played in court on Jan. 13, after which AFER issued a statement on the Supreme Court’s decision not to allow cameras in the court in which they discuss Tam’s deposition and release the letter Tam wrote which clearly shows animus toward gays (example: “If we lose, this will very likely happen……1. Same-Sex marriage will be a permanent law in California. One by one, other states would fall into Satan’s hand….”).

Additionally – the juxtaposition between what Dettmer reads into the record about Tam’s references to Satan and the way he was clearly coached to reply to expected question is just extraordinary.

The most striking portion of the deposition, which was shown at trial, is Tam acknowledging the aforementioned letter he had written urging a vote for Prop 8 in which he says that same sex marriage will lead to legal prostitution and legal sex with children:

“This is put forth by the SF city government, which is under the rule of homosexuals. They lose no time in pushing the gay agenda – after legalizing same sex marriage they want to legalize prostitution. What will be next? On their agenda list is: legalizing having sex with children.”

In the deposition, Tam is asked: What does “gay agenda mean to you? He replies:

“If you google this two terms, you’ll find out. It’s in the Internet. …there are several different websites describing the gay agenda. What I read is that they had – there was a meeting back in 1972, I believe, in Chicago – composed of gay leaders – they set out the platforms of their movement. So that’s where I read it.

Q: is it part of you understanding that part of the gay agenda is legalizing under-age sex?

A: Right. …That’s what I read from that.

Q: And do you believe that to be true?

Here the Protect Marriage attorney interrupts and instructs him not to answer. Asked why, she says it’s Tam’s First Amendment right to hold his personal, private beliefs, which according to Judge Walker’s order, “is not relevant.” Besides, it’s not a public document, though the attorney notes, “it’s available on the Internet.” Dettmer that’s “the very definition of public.”

Dettmer then reads from a document where Tam expresses concern about the Alameda public school system “brainwashing kids” and the importance of teaching school children about the biblical approach to marriage and sex “so they are immune from the teaching of the public school. Tam wrote:

“This is our biggest battlefield – our next generation. It’s a battle of the mind. Satan is working on our youths. If we and our churches don’t do our parts, we will certainly lose our kids. They’ll one day surrender to Satan. Everything we do in building Prop 8 would be given up by the next generation.”

Tam admitted to writing that but refused to answer when asked if he believed it to be true.

Tam also was asked about how many times he took part in public debate and what he said. Dettmer cited an article published by New American Media (NAM) about a debate in which Tam said “children would be harmed in public education if Prop 8 passed.”

Here’s where you can really see the couching at work. Tam visibily recoils at the word “harmed” – saying: “I have said something about children were effected if same sex marriage become legal. But I don’t recall using the word ‘harm” – or something so…”

Dettmer: “What do you remember saying on that topic of children and Prop 8?”

Tam: I was saying that if same sex marriage is legalized, then every child can grow up thinking whether he would marry John or Jane when they grow up. And that would cause a lot of problem for the parents. I also mention about first grade children being brought to same sex marriage weddings of the teacher – the two lesbians who get married. I thought that was inappropriate. So I was explaining that children would be effected involuntarily if same sex marriage is legalized.”

Tam also expressed concern over how gays were “very clever” in portraying same sex marriage as a civil rights issue. Asked why, he said:

“Because we think that civil right is about skin color – like me being an Asian. And I cannot change it. That’s how I understand the definition of civil rights. But my concern is that if homosexual portray themselves as another minority, then sexual preference can become a minority. That to me is a concern.”

Dettmer quotes from the NAM article where Tam says same sex marriage leads to sexual experimentation and that the “gay lifestyle” comes with all kinds of disease. Asked what he means about experimentation, Tam says:

“Now there’s an option for children to pick their marriage or to pick their sexual preference – because that actually happened to me when my daughter told me that her classmates chose to become lesbians and experiment with it. Later they notice that same sex marriage is – they think it’s a cool thing. They had some problem with dating with boys or getting dates from boys. So same sex marriage – once it’s in the air – they think that, oh, why not try girls. So children did experiment with it. That’s what I meant.”

About his reference to disease, Tam says:

“I mean sexually transmitted diseases. And it’s all in the Internet. It’s very easy to find in the Internets reports that homosexuals do have a higher proportion of the population getting AIDS, and syphilis, it’s all in the public record, than straight.”

Here’s the deposition of William Tam, Phd:

UPDATE (ADAM): Karen also has a quick, useful piece explaining the timeline and window of marriages that could happen if Judge Walker lifts his stay.

126 Comments August 11, 2010

Would you like to spend an hour with David Boies?

By Eden James

Remember last Thursday night, when David Peck and Alan E. wrote about David Boies tearing up at a speech the night after Judge Walker’s ruling?

Well, we didn’t have the video then, but we do now. The Commonwealth Club has posted it and it’s well worth watching — or listening to while you do chores — if you’ve got an hour tonight to spend with the soothing sounds of the voice of David Boies.

Sit back, relax and enjoy David Boies break down the ins and outs of the AFER case — how they won and why :

And, if you didn’t read the original reports that came in on his speech from our intrepid Trial Trackers, here it is again, reposted from Friday:


(I love the Tracker community! Last night, David Peck and Alan E. — two Prop 8 Trial Tracker community members who comment often — posted first-hand accounts of an appearance by David Boies in San Francisco at the Commonwealth Club. The Commonwealth Club holds frequent public forums with notable speakers that are often broadcast on NPR and on their YouTube page. The San Jose Mercury News was there to cover it, but I was so moved by David and Alan’s personal accounts of what happened, I decided to highlight their coverage instead. The Club has not posted the YouTube video yet, but you can listen to the full speech and Q&A with David Boies here. If any of you see the video go live, we’ll add it to this thread ASAP. Enjoy! — Eden James)

UPDATE: Video posted of a 3-minute clip of the speech from the HuffPo:

David Boies on Prop 8 & Supreme Court from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

A pumped-up David Boies said last night that it’s a “dead certainty” that the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the issue of same-sex marriage if a federal appeals court sustains the trial court’s landmark decision Wednesday overturning California’s Proposition 8. In an hourlong appearance before a capacity crowd of 300 at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club, Boies… (more at J.D. Lasica’s HuffPo)


By David Peck (or “Dpeck”)
(posted as a comment on August 5, at 11:59 p.m.)

Hi All,

Tonight, I went to the Commonwealth Club in SF and I got to hear David Boies speak and answer questions. It was a great experience. As an added bonus, I ran into our very own Alan from here at P8TT. Something to note – this event had been on the schedule for months and it was pure happy coincidence that it ended up happening one day after the ruling. The timing wasn’t planned.

David Boies
As soon as the event began, before Boies even made it all the way to the podium, the entire room erupted into a spontaneous standing ovation. It was very moving, and there was more of that to follow a little later…

For the first part of the evening, Boies spoke from the podium at length about the trial, about the three major points that they set out to prove:

1. Marriage is a fundamental right – he said this one was easy since the SCOTUS had already said as much several times already, and he gave the example of when it was ruled that felons serving life sentences must be allowed to marry (and this also poked another hole in the “marriage is for procreation” argument to boot).

2. Denying marriage rights to SSMs harms these couples and their families.

3. Ending this discrimination does no harm at all to opposite sex couples nor does it harm the institution of marriage itself, in fact it strengthens it.

He went on to give his thoughts on many of the very same aspects of this issue that we all have been discussing here, including the topics in this very thread regarding the true role of the courts and the Constitution in protecting the equal rights of all citizens.

Of course I had expected him to be a very good speaker and to be good at constructing arguments and making a point, but I was struck by how down to earth, direct, and accessible his comments were. He also has a good sense of humor. And I have to say, it just really felt so affirming and so GOOD to hear these statements direct from Boies, and to hear him quote from Walker’s ruling.

And then near the end of his speech, he began to make a light-hearted comment about how his team maybe didn’t deserve so much credit because in the big picture, they had only stepped into the whole struggle for equal marriage rights at the end of the story – and then he had to pause for a few moments because he was getting quite emotional. When he resumed, he went on to say that this victory was for all of the people who had done the real fighting for equal rights and who had given so much, sometimes giving their very lives.

It was clear that this man isn’t just in this for the challenge, or the notoriety, or the money. He’s in it for all the right reasons. He’s in it for the principle at stake. I felt very fortunate to have been there to hear him speak.

The audience had been invited to submit written questions and after Boies finished speaking at the podium the host for the event read several of the questions for Boies to answer. Some were really good, but I’m starting to draw a blank. Alan, if you’re reading this, feel free to chime in, OK?

The event was recorded for radio broadcast but I don’t know the specifics. It’s definitely worth a listen so anyone who can find it, please post the info here.


(And then Alan chimed in a little later…)

By Alan E.
(posted as a comment on August 6, at 7:39 a.m.)

Last night, I got to go see David Boies talk at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco.

When I first arrived, I was looking for an open seat. I found one and asked the person sitting next to it if it was open (many chairs had coats spread across to save them). To my surprise, the person I asked about the seat turned out to be Dpeck! We got to chat for a bit before the even started.

As soon as Mr. Boies walked in, the crowd gave a standing ovation. At the very end of his speech, Mr. Boies started to tear up, and that just got mine going, too. There was a Q&A session, but we had to submit our questions ahead of time. The moderator grouped the questions of similar type and asked them of Mr. Boies in lumps. This was fantastic because you didn’t get the same question over again, you don’t feel bad if your specific question doesn’t get asked, and the timing ans pace of the session was impeccable.

As Mr. Boies was walking out, I had to rudely interrupt a conversation I was in so I could shake his hand and thank him. I made my way downstairs, said goodbye to Dpeck, but decided to go to the bathroom before I started my trek home (having to pee while on BART sucks). Mr. Boies was just starting a press conference, but most everyone who was at his talk earlier had left. I noticed that no one was checking anything at the room, so I just walked in and started taking pictures with my phone and recorded a couple minutes.

Before he could leave, I stopped him to get him to sign my copy of the decision. I also had one more request, something I had been thinking about doing for months: I wanted to give him a great big hug. Of course he obliged. I walked out of there with a huge grin on my face and tears streaming. This was one of the best days of my life!

I’ll get a picture of my signed copy to post soon. You should definitely listen to the audio (it was shown on Channel 2 as well, last night, so there may be video somewhere).


(And a little later, Richard A. Walker added a poignant point…)

23. Richard A. Walter (soon to be Walter-Jernigan) | August 6, 2010 at 8:40 am

And let’s not forget all of the unsung heroes throughout the years leading up to this moment who have made this possible, beginning with our brothers and sisters at Stonewall who on 27 June 1969 said enough is enough and refused to be bullied anymore, all of those who have participated in studies and/or allowed their stories to be part of a case history and/or analysis so that reputable, peer-reviewed scientific efforts could go on and refute the previous stereotypes and superstitions about us. These people are also a very big part of today. And yes, I think that Harvey Milk is looking down on us today with an ear to ear grin!


If you would like to add a comment of your own, please treat this as a “Lesbians Love Boies” Open Thread…

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29 Comments August 9, 2010

David Boies tears up at speech discussing Prop 8 decision last night (video coming…)

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(I love the Tracker community! Last night, David Peck and Alan E. — two Prop 8 Trial Tracker community members who comment often — posted first-hand accounts of an appearance by David Boies in San Francisco at the Commonwealth Club. The Commonwealth Club holds frequent public forums with notable speakers that are often broadcast on NPR and on their YouTube page. The San Jose Mercury News was there to cover it, but I was so moved by David and Alan’s personal accounts of what happened, I decided to highlight their coverage instead. The Club has not posted the YouTube video yet, but you can listen to the full speech and Q&A with David Boies here. If any of you see the video go live, we’ll add it to this thread ASAP. Enjoy! — Eden James)

UPDATE: Video posted of a 3-minute clip of the speech from the HuffPo:

David Boies on Prop 8 & Supreme Court from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

A pumped-up David Boies said last night that it’s a “dead certainty” that the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the issue of same-sex marriage if a federal appeals court sustains the trial court’s landmark decision Wednesday overturning California’s Proposition 8. In an hourlong appearance before a capacity crowd of 300 at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club, Boies… (more at J.D. Lasica’s HuffPo)


By David Peck (or “Dpeck”)
(posted as a comment on August 5, at 11:59 p.m.)

Hi All,

Tonight, I went to the Commonwealth Club in SF and I got to hear David Boies speak and answer questions. It was a great experience. As an added bonus, I ran into our very own Alan from here at P8TT. Something to note – this event had been on the schedule for months and it was pure happy coincidence that it ended up happening one day after the ruling. The timing wasn’t planned.

David Boies
As soon as the event began, before Boies even made it all the way to the podium, the entire room erupted into a spontaneous standing ovation. It was very moving, and there was more of that to follow a little later…

For the first part of the evening, Boies spoke from the podium at length about the trial, about the three major points that they set out to prove:

1. Marriage is a fundamental right – he said this one was easy since the SCOTUS had already said as much several times already, and he gave the example of when it was ruled that felons serving life sentences must be allowed to marry (and this also poked another hole in the “marriage is for procreation” argument to boot).

2. Denying marriage rights to SSMs harms these couples and their families.

3. Ending this discrimination does no harm at all to opposite sex couples nor does it harm the institution of marriage itself, in fact it strengthens it.

He went on to give his thoughts on many of the very same aspects of this issue that we all have been discussing here, including the topics in this very thread regarding the true role of the courts and the Constitution in protecting the equal rights of all citizens.

Of course I had expected him to be a very good speaker and to be good at constructing arguments and making a point, but I was struck by how down to earth, direct, and accessible his comments were. He also has a good sense of humor. And I have to say, it just really felt so affirming and so GOOD to hear these statements direct from Boies, and to hear him quote from Walker’s ruling.

And then near the end of his speech, he began to make a light-hearted comment about how his team maybe didn’t deserve so much credit because in the big picture, they had only stepped into the whole struggle for equal marriage rights at the end of the story – and then he had to pause for a few moments because he was getting quite emotional. When he resumed, he went on to say that this victory was for all of the people who had done the real fighting for equal rights and who had given so much, sometimes giving their very lives.

It was clear that this man isn’t just in this for the challenge, or the notoriety, or the money. He’s in it for all the right reasons. He’s in it for the principle at stake. I felt very fortunate to have been there to hear him speak.

The audience had been invited to submit written questions and after Boies finished speaking at the podium the host for the event read several of the questions for Boies to answer. Some were really good, but I’m starting to draw a blank. Alan, if you’re reading this, feel free to chime in, OK?

The event was recorded for radio broadcast but I don’t know the specifics. It’s definitely worth a listen so anyone who can find it, please post the info here.


(And then Alan chimed in a little later…)

By Alan E.
(posted as a comment on August 6, at 7:39 a.m.)

Last night, I got to go see David Boies talk at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco.

When I first arrived, I was looking for an open seat. I found one and asked the person sitting next to it if it was open (many chairs had coats spread across to save them). To my surprise, the person I asked about the seat turned out to be Dpeck! We got to chat for a bit before the even started.

As soon as Mr. Boies walked in, the crowd gave a standing ovation. At the very end of his speech, Mr. Boies started to tear up, and that just got mine going, too. There was a Q&A session, but we had to submit our questions ahead of time. The moderator grouped the questions of similar type and asked them of Mr. Boies in lumps. This was fantastic because you didn’t get the same question over again, you don’t feel bad if your specific question doesn’t get asked, and the timing ans pace of the session was impeccable.

As Mr. Boies was walking out, I had to rudely interrupt a conversation I was in so I could shake his hand and thank him. I made my way downstairs, said goodbye to Dpeck, but decided to go to the bathroom before I started my trek home (having to pee while on BART sucks). Mr. Boies was just starting a press conference, but most everyone who was at his talk earlier had left. I noticed that no one was checking anything at the room, so I just walked in and started taking pictures with my phone and recorded a couple minutes.

Before he could leave, I stopped him to get him to sign my copy of the decision. I also had one more request, something I had been thinking about doing for months: I wanted to give him a great big hug. Of course he obliged. I walked out of there with a huge grin on my face and tears streaming. This was one of the best days of my life!

I’ll get a picture of my signed copy to post soon. You should definitely listen to the audio (it was shown on Channel 2 as well, last night, so there may be video somewhere).


(And a little later, Richard A. Walker added a poignant point…)

23. Richard A. Walter (soon to be Walter-Jernigan) | August 6, 2010 at 8:40 am

And let’s not forget all of the unsung heroes throughout the years leading up to this moment who have made this possible, beginning with our brothers and sisters at Stonewall who on 27 June 1969 said enough is enough and refused to be bullied anymore, all of those who have participated in studies and/or allowed their stories to be part of a case history and/or analysis so that reputable, peer-reviewed scientific efforts could go on and refute the previous stereotypes and superstitions about us. These people are also a very big part of today. And yes, I think that Harvey Milk is looking down on us today with an ear to ear grin!


If you would like to add a comment of your own, please treat this as a “Lesbians Love Boies” Open Thread…

UPDATE 8/8/2010: And here it is — the full one-hour speech and Q&A with David Boies:

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

99 Comments August 6, 2010

Prop 8 appeal filed + timeline and what you can do

by Adam Bink

As expected:

SAN FRANCISCO — Supporters of California’s gay marriage ban filed an appeal Thursday of a federal judge’s ruling striking down the voter-approved law.

The appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was expected, as lawyers on both sides of the legal battle repeatedly vowed to carry the fight to a higher court if they lost.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in San Francisco overturned California’s Proposition 8, which restricts a marriage to one man and one woman. U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled the law violates federal equal protections and due process laws.

The 9th Circuit court has no deadlines to hear the case, which will be randomly assigned to a three-judge panel. It’s expected that the panel will order both sides to submit written legal arguments before scheduling a hearing.

The outcome in the appeals court could force the U.S. Supreme Court to confront the question of whether gays have a constitutional right to wed.

The appeal text can be found here (it’s short).

On the stay issue, as I listened to NPR on my way in this morning, it was reported that Judge Walker would give both sides until Friday to submit full arguments on whether there should be a stay. This piece confirms that:

Protect Marriage, the coalition of religious and conservative groups that sponsored Proposition 8 – and wound up defending it in court after California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown refused to – said it would immediately appeal the decision.

Walker, meanwhile, said he would consider waiting for the 9th Circuit to render its decision before he makes his opinion final and requires the state to stop enforcing the ban. The judge ordered both sides to submit written arguments by Friday on the issue.

Judge Walker will then decide whether to extend the stay pending appeals. If he decides not to, our opponents may appeal that decision to the 9th Circuit.

Meanwhile, Time Magazine outlines the timeline with the overall case appeal in the 9th Circuit:

During this trial, lawyers will argue in front of three judges, who will then release a written opinion.  This court has a reputation for having liberal judges, but the three judges are chosen randomly. Then, whatever side loses this appeal can file an “en banc” complaint to be heard in front of 11 judges on the court. None of this process has a deadline, so this saga could drag on for a while.

After the appeals court decides, then the losing side can ask the Supreme Court to take their case. This may come even instead of the “en banc” process. Legal battles could have gone on for a year before this happens. Legal experts say the Supreme Court will probably take this case, but it may not if the appeals court reverses Walker’s decision or voters reverse Prop. 8 at the ballot. That, after all this time in court, would render any decision moot.

As an aside, it may feel like individual activists out here are powerless over this case. A number of friends expressed that to me last night, that all they can do is cross their fingers. I don’t think that’s true at all. As my colleague Evan Wolfson at Freedom to Marry likes to say, the best thing to do is to use every moment between now and the 9th Circuit hearing, and a potential Supreme Court hearing, to win more states and move public opinion in order to create a climate and momentum that will maximize our chances. And there are lots of things we can all do to create that kind of environment, from talking to friends/family/colleagues to calling into radio shows and writing on a blog or in a newspaper to getting involved with electing candidates who will support marriage, like in the New York State Senate, where we are closer than ever to a win on enacting the freedom to marry in my home state. We all play a role, however small.

102 Comments August 5, 2010

A morning cuppa Prop 8

Overturned sign from Jason Cohen
The new and improved Yes on 8 sign, from Jason Cohen

by Adam Bink

The morning after. Ah, woke up with a smile today. How about you?

Here’s what I’m seeing around and about:

  • First, if you missed yesterday’s coverage here at Prop8TrialTracker.com (coverage that has this space as the #1 Google search engine result for “Prop 8 trial” and #3 for “Prop 8″!), I’ve got a roundup for you. We’ve got my initial announcement along with key graphs from the decision, early head-exploding reaction from NOM, and live-blogging the AFER presser;  attorney Brian Devine’s legal analysis; my roundup of more legal analysis, NOM’s livechat FAIL, Obama WH reaction, and photos from rallies in SF; videos galore including last night’s Maddow episode; and Maggie channeling the Cold War. Peruse away.
  • Speaking of Maggie, here’s her debating Evan Wolfson, head of Freedom to Marry (a co-sponsor of NOMTourTracker.com) on Anderson Cooper last night.

Cooper

“The president opposed Proposition 8 at the time — he felt it was divisive and mean spirited,” he said, adding that Obama believes that governing marriage is “an issue for the states.”

Ask Obama to support full marriage equality.

  • I must say, I’m having some fun with NOM’s site, as they have the Twitter auto-feed set to Prop8, which means they have tweets celebrating the Prop 8 decision and coverage from gay journalists like Michael Lavers alongside angry denunciations from Maggie. Whoops. (Click to view larger)
  • NOMsite

The ideological odd couple who led the case — Ted Olson and David Boies, who fought against each other in the Supreme Court battle over the 2000 election — were criticized by some supporters of same-sex marriage for moving too quickly to the federal courts. Certainly, there is no guarantee that the current Supreme Court would uphold Judge Walker’s ruling. But there are times when legal opinions help lead public opinions.

Just as they did for racial equality in previous decades, the moment has arrived for the federal courts to bestow full equality to millions of gay men and lesbians.

The Chronicle editorial was pretty good, although not as eloquent, and in the same edition as this garbage they printed from Maggie calling Walker “biased” and warning of the Red Gay Menace.

  • Tonight’s NOM event is in St. Louis circa 6 PM Central time. And I bet it’s going to be a doozy. Given Brian’s failure to show up for his own live chat, and Maggie’s warning of The Gay Soviets coming to re-educate your kids, there’s plenty for our Trackers to ask them about. So it’s about time for another question period. What would you ask NOM tonight?

257 Comments August 5, 2010

Prop 8 decision: column as I see ‘em

By Adam Bink

Column as I see ‘em:

  • So a number of us (over 200, in fact) waited 45 minutes for Brian Brown’s live chat that was due to start at 7 PM EST, but he never showed, despite asking supporters in an e-mail to come. Wow. Jeremy has some of the awesome chat feed while we were waiting, though.
  • But Brian did find time to film a video asking for contributions. It makes me nauseous. Watch.
  • Here at Prop8TrialTracker.com, where we actually do show up when we say we will, day-in and day-out, at all hours, we could use your help supporting the NOM Tour Tracker, Prop 8 coverage. Tomorrow evening, we’ll be coming to you from St. Louis, MO. Getting our trackers to each stop and getting coverage for you up on this site costs money. Please chip in to support this coverage. Plus, if you do so, it’ll be matched 1:1 by a special $25,000 match from Tom Dolby and Drew Frist, just married last year, in honor of today’s decision.

    Give today.

  • Via Box Turtle Bulletin, Liberty Counsel blames the Alliance Defense Fund for the verdict. Circular firing squads on the right are fun.
  • Over e-mail, Shannon Minter with National Center for Lesbian Rights- who was lead counsel on the original CA Supreme Court case in 2008- sent this dispatch into colleague Rex Wockner. With permission, he has given permission for it to be published. It’s interesting.

    This is a tour de force-a grand slam on every count. The court held that Prop 8 violates the fundamental right to marry and discriminates on the basis of both sex and sexual orientation in violation of the equal protection clause. The court held that laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation must be subject to the highest level of constitutional review, but that Prop 8 would fail even the lowest test, because it is based solely on moral disapproval of gay people. The court made detailed findings of fact about all of the evidence presented and the credibility of the witnesses. This is without a doubt a game-changing ruling. Today’s decision is the most comprehensive, detailed decision addressing the constitutional rights of same-sex couples to affirmative recognition and support ever to be issued by a federal court.

    How well put together is this decision?

    The decision is meticulously crafted. Judge Walker reviewed the entire record and made detailed factual findings about all of the evidence and the credibility of the witnesses. He also supported his ruling on multiple legal grounds. For example, he found both that laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation are subject to the highest level of constitutional protection, but that Prop 8 would fail even under the lowest level of protection because it serves no legitimate purpose. This is a remarkably careful, thorough, and deliberate decision, obviously written with an eye to presenting appellate courts with the strongest possible factual and legal basis for the ruling.

    What’s the impact on higher courts? Why?

    The appellate courts are not strictly bound by the court’s factual findings, but they generally give such findings a great deal of deference. The appellate courts also will undoubtedly will give considerable weight to Judge Walker’s careful legal analysis, although they ultimately will make their own independent assessment of what the law requires.

    Does the ruling apply only in CA or to all laws that bar ss couples from marriage?

    Judge Walker’s decision addressed only the situation in California, which stripped same-sex couples of the right to marry while leaving them with an inferior institution of domestic partnership. He also made many factual findings that are specific to Prop 8. But many aspects of his legal reasoning would also apply to other laws that bar same-sex coupes from marriage or otherwise discriminate against LGBT people.

  • Obama’s statement (on his birthday, no less): “The President has spoken out in opposition to Proposition 8 because it is divisive and discriminatory. He will continue to promote equality for LGBT Americans.” Pretty vanilla- kind of reminds me of the one made in response to The Advocate inquiry for a position on No On 1/Referendum 71, actually- but it’s still nice to see. And I do recall the Obama speaking out against Prop 8 back in 2008, and the Obama-directed DNC donate to the cause.
  • A nice comment came in over e-mail to the team here:

    I’m straight and have been in a monogamous marriage for 22 years. “A right you reserve for yourself and deny others is not a right but a privilege”. I want the society that I live in to provide equal rights for all. Thank you for your efforts to provide information and help keeping us up to date. You deserve a big thank you for your efforts. I know this is just another step in our journey but it’s worth taking time to celebrate.

    You’re welcome. We really do appreciate the pat on the back. And thanks for being a straight ally!

    If you out there you like our coverage too, please consider chipping in to keep it going. You’ll be matched dollar for dollar.

  • Olson and Boies on Maddow tonight. 6 PM PST/9 PM EST. Leave your thoughts on their interview in the comments.

This is an open thread on the Prop 8 ruling and our movement for full marriage equality.

UPDATE BY EDEN: Kathleen in the comments just posted a treasure trove of evidence from the trial, apparently released today by the court:

Evidence posted at District Court website:
https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov/cand/09cv2292/evidence/index.html

Includes several videos, including this blast from the past — the deposition of the infamous William Tam:

What’s your favorite Tam quote?

UPDATE FROM EDEN: As Adam noted earlier, Ted Olson and David Boies are being interviewed right now by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. Interview started at 6:16 PST.

UPDATE FROM EDEN: Caitlin Maloney, the Courage Campaign Institute’s Data Director, is at the San Francisco rally and march. She says there are thousands marching from the Castro to the Civic Center. Pictures may be coming soon!

And here they are, from rally participant Alan Beach-Nelson, marching with Caitlin and company:

Prop 8 victory! Thousands march in San Francisco (August 4, 2010)

Prop 8 overturned: Celebration rally in San Francisco (August 4, 2010)
(Courtesy of Alan Beach-Nelson)

What an inspiring and moving scene!

In the left-hand lower corner of the photo above, I can see Sarah Callahan, the Courage Campaign Institute’s COO, with her child Jack and Caitlin Maloney, our Data Director (in brown). Wish I was there with the Courage team. (I’m actually only a few miles away, but have to stay on the computer to keep updating the Trial Tracker!).

Prop 8 overturned! Harvey Milk and the Castro's Rainbow flag

Harvey Milk’s spirit is alive and well. And he was “represented” at the march as well — check out the black-and-white face above the Castro flag being unfurled for the march above.

Prop 8 overturned! SF Civic Center rally
(Courtesy of Raffael Alva)

If any of you have links to pictures of video from rallies happening across the country, please post them in the comments!

UPDATE BY EDEN: News coming in (and pics soon hopefully) from the West Hollywood celebration. The L.A. Times is there and interviewed Rick Jacobs, the Courage Campaign Institute’s Chair and Founder:

Celebrators carried signs saying “Equality Now” and waved miniature rainbow flags. Among the participants was Rick Jacobs, founder of the Courage Campaign Institute, an organizing network that pushes for equality.

“The work is just beginning. We have to change the way people think before it gets to the Supreme Court,” Jacobs said. He said they’re working toward that goal with an online project where gays and lesbians can share their stories. “Gay people and lesbians are great parents, partners in marriage and families,” Jacobs said.

Rick is talking about the next phase of Testimony: Equality on Trial. Stay tuned for more details!

81 Comments August 4, 2010

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