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Trial analysis

By Rick Jacobs

This is the first time I’ve been able to pause because there is a break. First, I apologize for not getting the posts up sooner this morning. I have one of those AT&T wireless devices in my computer and it sometimes works and sometimes does not. This morning was at first a “does not.”

We’ve moved into the meat of the trial now. The emotion is largely over. The plaintiff is trying to prove that marriage has evolved, that it’s about the state’s recognition of a committed, loving relationship. They did a good job this morning showing the arc of marriage, the changes in the way society perceives the man-woman relationship and therefore the changes in marriage itself. WE forget how recently women had no rights at all in this country. I was sort of shocked when Prof. Cott kept saying that only since the 1970s did women have the same rights in marriage as men. It’s only been thirty years and I’m guessing a lot of women who might be reading this would affirm that we have a long way still to go. So even though the Supreme Court ruled that women are not chattel in marriage, society still has biases about the role of women. I say this because it’s important for us all to remember that even when we do get full marriage equality, we’ll still have decades of work to change the way people think and that will only happen through compelling story telling such as that of the two plaintiff couples yesterday.

But back to the point. Our side is showing that marriage evolves with society. Their side is doing everything possible to show that marriage is really about mother and child. And they want to show that there is a “radical homosexual agenda” designed to undermine the fabric of this nation through overthrow of institutions such as marriage. That’s the whole ball of wax here:

1. Marriage between a man and a woman is the only way to “protect” kids;
2. The gays want to overthrow America, so be afraid, be very afraid.

I’m not sure what our side will do to show the number of families in which kids are the product of single parents or in which they are raised by three generations of women, but no men (because maybe the men are in prison, but that’s another story). What about foster kids? What about adopted kids? And Prof. Cott spoke briefly about new means of creating children out of traditional biological methods.

The world has changed. We’re really looking to this case to allow the world as it is to be defended by the constitution.

I was on a radio show this morning that I should not have been on. In fact, after I realized that I had made an error, I did not stay on. The host introduced the show by saying that “radical homosexuals” seek to overturn the will of the people as exercised by Prop. 8 in which “more than 60% of the voters” voted for Prop. 8. It got worse from there. When he told me that I could “recover” from being a homosexual, I realized there was no point in going on. I raise this because I could not help thinking about the eloquent plaintiffs yesterday. How many times, day after day, are we told we are not good enough? How many times are we told that we can be left aside, that discrimination is okay? For those of you who know me, you know that I am no radical. I wish I were. I just want a country in which everyone has equal rights.

I did another show with one of the reverends from All Saints in Pasadena (Rev. Susan, but I don’t have her last name, so help!) She said it all: “why are spending so much time and money on denying people equal rights when we have real problems such as poverty and war out there?” This fight for the right wing, that they want to hide and keep off the air, is about their radical agenda. They really do not like America. They like some conception of America from another time or from no time, but they don’t like this America. They fear at root that when this issue is settled in favor of justice and equality that we’ll all really be able to attend fully to social and economic justice, to figuring out why our inner city African American male populations are imprisoned and how to fix that. They fear the pluralism of our population, the new melting pot that is no longer their conception.

In reality, this will all make our nation more powerful. That’s right: Same sex marriage will strengthen society because it will eliminate, at least from a legal perspective, another piece of institutionalized discrimination. It will stop setting us against each other. We have so much to do!

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  • 1. Paul Cook-Giles  |  January 12, 2010 at 3:48 am

    "Rev. Susan" would be Rev. Susan Russell, an Episcopal priest at All Saints Pasadena. She blogs at

  • 2. Alan E.  |  January 12, 2010 at 3:48 am

    Again, thank you for posting this. That radio show you did was, like you said, affirmation of the bigotry we face every day. It may be a random subtle slur, or overt discrimination, but it all has to end.

  • 3. Doug K.  |  January 12, 2010 at 3:52 am

    THANK YOU for your live blogging. Deep gratitude to you. This all gives me great hope.

  • 4. Randy  |  January 12, 2010 at 4:02 am

    Thank you for your insightful reporting of the trial, I hope you will be there everyday! Being stuck over here in PA at work I am finding it harder and harder to actually get any work done as I keep coming back and refreshing the page!

  • 5. Dr. Lao  |  January 12, 2010 at 4:03 am

    Susan Russell is one of the rectors at All Saints Pasadena.

  • 6. Dalton  |  January 12, 2010 at 4:07 am

    Great summary of the trial so far and main points, and your analysis is really appreciated.

    Thanks also for sharing parts of your personal experiences with us.

  • 7. James R.  |  January 12, 2010 at 4:13 am

    Thank you so much for your excellent coverage. I really loved your explanation that the radical right's agenda is an attempt to slow progress on other fronts by indulging in a traditional values delusion.

    Remember, for them nothing evolves, so there's no place for progress.

  • 8. mem  |  January 12, 2010 at 4:19 am

    Thank you for this amazing effort to keep us all informed. When the Supreme Court made the decision they did yesterday, it took the human face out of the proceedings, and that is a huge shame, and of course what the Pro-8 people wanted. It is harder to hate someone when they have a face and a voice and a story. You, by your work, are putting if not the faces, at least the passion back into this historic event.

    As the mom of a lesbian daughter who has fought for her own rights for years, I thank you. You and my daughter are radicals in that you live your lives bravely and honestly in the face of great challenges and ignorance. Bless you!

  • 9. Tim  |  January 12, 2010 at 4:33 am

    Your blog is excellent and you are doing a great service to all of us who cannot be there. Keep up the wonderful work.

  • 10. Marlene Bomer  |  January 12, 2010 at 5:48 am

    Rick — I would've stayed on that bigoted show just to stand up to those bible bullies! Show them we aren't afraid of their scare tactics and fearmongering!

    The best way to stand up to a bully is to stand there and deflect their attacks.

  • 11. Bill  |  January 12, 2010 at 6:51 am

    Just to clarify. When you speak of ordained priests, it is proper so say "The Reverend (and their name)." And just for the record, there is only one Rector of a parish. Rector means leader, or boss. Susan is an assistant. Father Ed is Rector. (Only he does not being called "Father" or preist because he is really a southern baptist from Alabama, who converted for some reason unknown to me.)

  • 12. heather gold  |  January 12, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Oh Rick, isn't it goofy that wanting equal rights for all is radical?

    If someone cannot see you, to truly be in their view and understanding is a radical step, at least as they'd see it.

    it's like all tech change. When you see the shift coming, you can be feel full of revolutionizing power. Once everyone has email, it seems so obvious, simple and beneficial no one can remember it as odd or radical at all.

    Keep up the wonderful blogging and leadership.


  • 13. The Reverend Susan R  |  January 12, 2010 at 10:18 am

    Thanks for this, Rick. Privilege being on KPFK with you and we're getting a live link up to the interview on the All Saints website …

  • 14. Cathy Brooks  |  January 12, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Might you please divulge the name/station of the first radio show?

  • 15. Jon Carl Lewis  |  January 12, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    this african-american, urban, gay man thanks you for your beautiful words…

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