Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mysterious Ways

Today was a big day today in the Prop. 8 Trial.

Plaintiffs, one gay male and one lesbian couple seeking to marry in California, are charging that Prop. 8 must be overturned because it was driven by animus against the gay minority. How this is filtered through constitutional law is a complex issue which I don’t want to take on just yet, but the court has taken up the case, and - just in case you have not been following - the plaintiffs are being represented by Ted Olson and David Boies.

Ted Olson was the lawyer who argued for Bush before the Supreme Court in 2000 and won. Boies argued for Gore and lost. There is widespread agreement (and the transcript of this trial clearly demonstrates) these are two real hotshot lawyers, and the fact the two, one conservative and one liberal, are working together on this issue is a giant morale boost. Not everybody thought so at first. Most gay organizations voiced the fear that if we lost before the Supreme Court, it would further institutionalize homophobia, and we’d be set back perhaps an entire generation.

But that was before we got a good look at Olson and Boies. Since then, we have come to see them as genuinely passionate supporters of the cause. And since it was going to happen like it or not, pretty much everybody figured they had better get on board.

In my case, the fear has not lifted. My gut tells me we are going to win this case in the lower courts, but that when it makes its way to the Supreme Court, as most people agree is almost inevitable, Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito will find justification for shooting it down. The money is on Breyer, Ginsburg, Stevens and Sotomayor to go the other way. If this proves to be the case, the decision will fall on Kennedy, the man who commonly turns the tide in 5 to 4 decisions when each side votes along ideological lines.

What happened today is not a good omen. The fact that the Supreme Court, with Kennedy leading the conservative charge, determined that there should be no limitations on corporate spending to influence elections only adds to a sinking feeling we're dealing with a court not disposed to look out for the little guy. And to see any challenge to tradition in a negative light.

Robert Cruickshank discusses a chilling tie-in between the decision today and the Prop. 8 trial.

It’s hard to find good news, but my reason for a tad of optimism in the short term, at least, was William Tam’s testimony today. Tam’s charges that gays are twelve times more likely than straights to be child molesters and that their agenda is to turn children gay, plus the fact he could find no source for that “information” other than his left ear, should be all the proof Judge Walker needs to find the claims of animus credible. While the Prop. 8 people are pedaling as fast as they can to distance themselves from this poor bumbling idiot, there is no escaping the fact that Tam’s name was linked with Prop. 8 from the beginning – including in the voter pamphlet explaining the issue before the election.

The Supreme Court squelched Judge Walker’s plan to make the trial public. But people attending the trial picked up the pieces and organized a means of sending out daily (and sometimes hourly) summaries.

And now, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, AFER, the organization formed to support the case, has come out with full transcripts.

So much to be said about this trial. Its importance, in my opinion, is likely to grow as it sinks in that we have actually put homophobia on trial.

Sometimes God works in mysterious ways. To lighten our burden and make our job a little easier he gave us deep and abiding belly laughs in the form of Pat Robertson. To democrats, in the struggle to rid ourselves of the Bush Administration, he gave Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

Today, to further the cause of civil rights, he gave us William Tam.

Thank you, Jesus.

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