Filed under: Televising
By Jacob Combs
As you probably know, next Thursday, Dec. 8, is the date for the final two hearings in the 9th Circuit appeal of Perry v. Brown. At 2:30 pm PST, the appellate panel will hear arguments regarding the release of court recordings made during the trial, and at 3:30, the panel will hear arguments regarding the motion to vacate Judge Walker’s decision because he has been in a long-term relationship with a man. Both hearings will last one hour. There will be no further arguments on the constitutional issues of the case, and the 9th Circuit could issue a decision at any time after next Thursday.
As always, we will be providing full coverage of the court proceedings. Courage Campaign’s Rick Jacobs and Arisha Hatch will be at the James R. Browning Courthouse in San Francisco, liveblogging the proceedings, and Adam and I will be on P8TT helping them and bringing you all the day’s news.
The 9th Circuit panel has also agreed to allow the proceedings to be videotaped for a later broadcast by C-SPAN and NBC-7 San Diego. For those living in San Francisco, the court will also be providing a live stream of the hearings in Courtroom One to other parts of the Browning Courthouse. (There will also be limited public seating in the courtroom itself). A live remote feed will also be available at the Richard H. Chambers Courthouse in Pasadena, the U.S. Pioneer Courthouse in Portland and the William K. Nakamura Courthouse in Seattle. Finally, the audio and video recordings will be available on the court’s website at or before noon of Dec. 9. For more information on watching the live video streams in San Francisco or elsewhere, check here.
If you don’t happen to live in one of those cities or can’t make it to the courthouse to watch the live stream, make sure to follow next Thursday’s proceedings here at Prop8TrialTracker.com!
By Matt Baume
Hi, I’m Matt Baume from the American Foundation for Equal Rights, and welcome to special edition of Marriage News Watch. I’m up at the Russian River for thanksgiving right now, but there’s been some marriage equality news so let’s do a nice quick update so we can be back to eating.
We’re closer than ever to the next Prop 8 decision. The case has been working its way through the courts in little bits and pieces, but this week the ninth circuit court of appeals consolidated some of those pieces. Our next hearing is in ten days, on December 8 at 2:30pm. We’ll be discussing the release of the tapes of the trial, and then we could have a ruling on the entire appeal anytime thereafter.
The other Prop 8 news this week is an announcement from AFER about the LA debut of Dustin Lance Black’s play, “8,” based on the transcripts of the trial. After its huge premier on Broadway in September, the show will have an LA premier on March 3 at the Wilshire Ebell Theater with an all star cast. Casting and ticket info will be coming out soon.
And in Spain, the conservative Popular Party won big in national elections. Party leaders have vowed to repeal the country’s marriage equality law, so now Spanish LGBTs are rushing to marry before lawmakers have a chance to make good on their threats.
Hope you had a great thanksgiving — and we’ll see you next week.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has voted to repeal the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act. Now it moves to a Senate that’s hostile to marriage equality — but that’s actually okay.
On one side: ten Senate co-sponsors of the Respect for Marriage Act. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, Dianne Feinstein of California, Chuck Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Al Franken of Minnesota, Christopher Coons of Delaware, and Dick Blumenthal of Connecticut.
On the other side: eight opponents of marriage equality. That’s Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Jon Kyl of Arizona, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas, Michael Lee of Utah, and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.
Right now the case against DOMA is racing through all three branches of government. This latest advance is in the Legislative branch, but the Executive branch also stands against DOMA, and there’s a slew of cases working their way through federal courts.
Meanwhile, although AFER’s case, Perry v. Brown. concerns Prop 8 instead of DOMA, the arguments are similar: marriage discrimination violates the Constitution of the United States, whether it’s DOMA or whether it’s Proposition 8.
Orrin Hatch may have had the hearing’s strangest argument — he claimed that DOMA protects states’ rights. But no. Look at the law. DOMA has 3 parts. Part 1′s just the name. Part 2 prevents LGBT couples from moving their marriage from one state to another — so if you’re married in Iowa and you move to Utah, your marriage evaporates and there’s nothing Iowa can do to protect you. And Part 3 is even worse: it changed the federal definition of marriage, forcing federal agencies to ignore marriages. So even if you’re married in Iowa and you stay in Iowa, every single federal agency will work to undermine that marriage.
That’s why this state-by-state patchwork of marriage laws is so unfair. You’re married over here, you’re not over there, you’ve got to fill out four different sets of taxes, the YMCA can tell that you’re married but the IRS can’t. This is why full federal marriage equality is the only solution.
Senator Whitehouse put it best. He said that his constituents in Rhode Island are “prejudiced needlessly under this law. … We owe them better. We should treat [their] commitment with respect.”
And Senator Franken was even more succinct. “DOMA hurts families.”
The 10-to-8 victory for the Respect for Marriage Act means it now moves to the full Senate, where it has the support of 31 Senators. It’s pretty unlikely that it’ll be brought up for a vote anytime soon, but that’s fine — it gives time for support to grow in Congress.
Meanwhile, our case continues its expedited progress through the federal courts. Ari Ezra Waldman had a great piece on Towleroad this week about why we get more strength from legal arguments than from popular elections. Remember the misleading ads in California? Our opponents spent millions to trick Californians into thinking that Prop 8 had something to do with protecting marriage.
But when they’re in court, they’re under oath, and “limited by the compulsion to tell the truth.” And that’s why they’re trying to hide. They want to hide their names. They want to hide their arguments. They want to hide the tapes of the trial … because they know they have no case.
And if the country had voted on interracial marriage, it wouldn’t have been legal until the 1990s. It was a visionary Supreme Court that ruled in Loving v. Virginia that marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” and that marriage bans are “subversive to the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
In fact, the Supreme Court has ruled 14 times that marriage is a fundamental American freedom. And soon, we’re going to make that 15 times. See you in court.
Prop 8 trial: Proponents file reply brief in support of stay on releasing the tapes; plan to appeal to SCOTUS
By Adam Bink
A rather impressive brief filed by the proponents of Prop 8, if only for the length of documentation that went into it. There are 42 — forty-two — exhibits to underscore their argument that releasing the tape recordings from the trial phase of Perry v. Brown would lead to turmoil, just absolute mayhem. Exhibits like pieces from the Los Angeles Times from December 2008 about “A life thrown into turmoil by $100 donation to Prop 8″ and how Los Angeles City College was sued by the Alliance Defense Fund over a classroom dispute on a student against same-sex marriage. The arguments would have you believe that these isolated incidents represent all of the supporters of equality and all of this will happen if you let the tapes be released, oh noes. In reality, the trial was 100% live-blogged (right here) and covered extensively by the media in the 21 months or so since it occurred. The people who testified are nearly all public figures, and if they’re weren’t public or extremely well-known, they wouldn’t be hard to find. Yet we haven’t seen angry mobs outside their house or radio announcers giving out their phone numbers. The proponents fear democracy and transparency of their weak case because it shows the public, well, how bad their arguments are. In short, the spotlight has been on this for well over a year. Now let the sunshine in further.
Aside from that, an interesting money line at the end of the brief:
This Court should stay the district court’s order pending appeal. Should the Court disagree, Proponents request a seven-day stay to permit us to seek a stay from the Supreme Court.
Which tells us how far they’ll take this.
By Matt Baume
Holy cow. Where to begin? Dustin Lance Black’s play about Prop 8 hit Broadway for an incredible night. The tapes of the Prop 8 trial might actually get released. Florida’s working on domestic partnerships, North Carolina’s marriage ban is even worse than we thought, New Hampshire might repeal marriage, and Missouri — yes, Missouri — favors legal recognition for gay couples. All that, plus the first Republican co-sponsor for the repeal of DOMA. Wow.
I’m sure you noticed that I didn’t do an episode last week. That’s because I was in New York for the star-studded Broadway premier of Dustin Lance Black’s new play, “8,” based on the transcripts of the Prop 8 trial. It was even more amazing than anyone could have hoped, and if you missed it, don’t worry: it’s coming to your town. Now that it’s had its premiere, the plan is to license the play to local community theater and student groups all over the world. Visit BroadwayImpact.com for more information.
Meanwhile on the very same day as the show, the Federal Circuit Court in California ruled that the tapes of the Prop 8 trial should be unsealed. This is huge, but it’s not a done deal yet. The tapes are still locked up for another week, during which time the Prop 8 proponents will appeal the order. Then we’re probably looking at several weeks for the appeal to play out.
Let’s turn now to Florida, where Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen became the first congressional Republican to co-sponsor the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the federal marriage ban. That brings the total number of co-sponsors to nearly 130, a record high.
Also in Florida, two Democrats have introduced a domestic partnership bill. But the state already has a constitutional amendment banning recognition similar to marriage, so it’s unclear if Florida would even be allowed to recognize domestic partnerships.
The language of North Carolina’s proposed constitutional amendment to ban marriage is even more harsh than was previously agreed to. Lawmakers debated a version of the bill that permitted employers to opt in to providing partnership benefits, but the version that will go before voters leaves that provision out. Polling currently shows the bill losing by a very slim margin, which could be a problem since the vote will occur in May, during the Republican primary when conservative turnout will be high.
And In New Hampshire, Republicans have introduced a bill to end marriage equality in that state. The proposed measure would ban more than just marriage — it would leave couples with even fewer protections than they had under civil unions. The House Judiciary Committee will vote on the bill next month.
Those are the headlines, visit us over at MarriageNewsWatch.com for more on all these stories and more. And connect with us at Facebook.com/MarriageNewsWatch to get breaking alerts right on your wall. See you next week.
Stop back for coverage and analysis of tomorrow’s hearing here at P8TT. Coverage begins at 8:30 AM PST -Adam
By Matt Baume
More courtroom drama over Prop 8, with new arguments and a new judge. Recent surveys have been so encouraging for our side that this week our opponents resorted to creating a fake survey to spread misinformation. And civil unions are poised to make way for full marriage equality in Scotland and New Zealand.
Early last week, a federal court heard arguments about releasing the tapes of the Prop 8 trial. The Prop 8 Proponents claim that the footage needs to be kept secret, citing their witnesses’ privacy concerns. Of course, those witnesses have been more than happy to appear on television in the past — it’s just now, that they’re under oath and penalty of perjury, that they’re suddenly camera shy.
The court’s expected to rule on the issue any day now. But in the mean time, there’s a second hearing this week before the California Supreme Court. That one’s much more complicated, and involves a legal principle called standing. The American Foundation for Equal Rights has put together a comprehensive Q&A to get you all caught up on what’s going on, but here’s the abbreviated version: The Supreme Court is going to help figure out whether the Prop 8 Proponents have the legal authority to defend Prop 8 on appeal. You can follow @AFER on Twitter for live coverage of the hearing Tuesday morning at 10am PST. Courage Campaign’s Ana Beatriz Cholo will also be live-tweeting from @couragecampaign and @equalityontrial.
The good news is that no matter how the Supreme Court rules, we win. If their ruling results in the Proponents not being able to defend Prop 8, then the case is over, and we can start dismantling Prop 8 for good. If the Proponents can defend Prop 8, then we’ll have a chance to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, where we’ll win on the merits of the case. Don’t forget, our side introduced overwhelming evidence during the trial, and their side could only muster two witnesses, both of which have such serious credibility issues they want to destroy the video of the trial.
That Supreme Court hearing happens on Tuesday of this week, the 6th. And there’s one more complication: it’ll the the first oral argument before the court’s newest justice, Goodwin Liu, who was just sworn in a few days ago. Liu has an excellent track record on LGBT equality, and strongly supports the freedom to marry. But Tuesday’s hearing isn’t specifically about marriage. It’s a technical squabble over the way that California law works in general. So, the Supreme Court will make a general rule about state law, and then it’s the Ninth Circuit that will decide how that ruling affects this particular case.
That’ll take quite a few weeks. So, cross your fingers for a ruling before New Year’s, but don’t be surprised if the appeal isn’t settled until sometime in 2012.
In the mean time, it seems like more and more surveys come out each week that show a dramatic surge in support for marriage equality. This week, we got new data from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and from a national survey of young people. And there was also a rumor about a survey in North Carolina that showed us losing ground — but that turned out to be a phony trick by our opponents.
Let’s start with the young people. A new survey by the Public Religion Research institute shows 62% of Millenials supporting marriage, including a near-majority of young evangelicals.
Over in New Jersey, 52% of likely voters favor marriage, with just 32% opposed. That support rises to 58% for civil unions, but remember: a commission found three years ago that New Jersey’s civil unions fail to offer the same protection for families as marriage.
In Pennsylvania, 50% favor marriage, and 62% favor civil unions. There is a marriage equality bill in the legislature right now, SB 461. But it hasn’t moved since it was referred to the judiciary committee in February.
And in North Carolina, a survey showed that voters supported an upcoming measure to ban civil unions. But that didn’t sound quite right, and Equality North Carolina dug into the numbers to find the truth. And the truth is that the survey was conducted by anti-gay activists and asked misleading questions. More accurate polling shows that 57% support marriage or civil unions.
Nevertheless, the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce has been dragging its heels on taking a position on the measure. This week representatives said that they hadn’t seen any evidence that marriage equality benefits businesses. That’s a disappointing position, because in truth, the evidence is overwhelming. Over the last few years, the Williams Institute at UCLA has published study after study, the most recent showing that full national marriage equality would generate nearly $17 billion in expenditures.
In international news, Scottish legislators have launched a consultation with constituent groups over legalizing marriage. Polling so far is encouraging, with 60% supporting marriage to 19% opposed.
And activists in New Zealand announced plans for a march to Parliament on October 20th to demand that the country replace civil unions with full marriage.
Those are the headlines, visit us over at MarriageNewsWatch.com for more on all these stories and more.
We’ll see you next week.