September 5, 2011
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.