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An Earthquake


By Rick Jacobs

Well, we’re done for today, which is kind of sad. I remember the first time I really heard anyone use the phrase “teachable moment.” Arianna Huffington said it as only she can. And it stuck with me. But then, as with so many other popular culture phrases, it became hackneyed. If someone punched a kid in the eye, it was a “teachable moment.”

Today has truly provided teaching of the first order. When do we get to see four people—two couples—relate very personal stories about marriage and love and being gay? When do we get to hear those people talk about how the Prop. 8 ads hurt them personally? When do we see the affect that stigmatizing homosexuals for millennia has had on Jeff or Sandy? And when do we get to learn from a Yale and Harvard professor that our current understanding of the form of marriage is relatively new, not biblically based and the building block of the American polity?

I just finished up a talk with a reporter who had a bad divorce. His girlfriend wants to get married; he does not. After watching today’s trial, he said he understands why she wants to marry. Too bad the right wing does not use the trial to teach the value of marriage. That’s how we strengthen not just the institution of marriage, but American civilization.

Thanks Chad Griffin and Bruce Cohen for having the vision and balls to put this together. And thanks donors who had the courage of their wallets. Thanks to the plaintiffs for putting yourselves out there, for being vulnerable. But most of all, thanks to David Boies and Ted Olson. Let us not ever underestimate the source of much of the ethos that pervades this trial. It is from Ted Olson, a lifelong Republican, George Bush II’s Solicitor General. I have known Ted for twenty five years through business dealings in the distant past. I have rarely agreed with him, but I have always respected him. And I guarantee you that the nine justices and the entire right-wing/libertarian establishments are watching Ted’s leadership on this issue.

There was an earthquake outside of San Francisco last night. Little damage was done. There was an earthquake in this courthouse today that will continue to shake the system for decades and maybe centuries to come.

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  • 1. BT  |  January 11, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Thank you so much, Rick, for keeping us up-to-date with what's going on…I have been quoting you in my facebook updates all day! Keep up the good work!


  • 2. Kate  |  January 11, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Truly doing your civic duty in the courtroom today. From your fingers to the world. Thank you and thanks to everyone who make it possible.

  • 3. Alex C.  |  January 11, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Thank you so much for doing this. I wish I could be there to see it for myself but… this is the next best thing.

  • 4. Ed-M  |  January 11, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Rick, I fully appreciate your coverage of this vital trial. When it gets to the supremes, hopefully two new liberal justices will have taken the place of retiring conservatives.

  • 5. Josiah  |  January 11, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Thank you for providing this service. The testimony was compelling and moving, and there's a strong sense that history is afoot. This must be what it would have felt like to read daily news dispatches from the Continental Congress in July 1776.

  • 6. Shane Z.  |  January 11, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Thanks for doing this. These reports I'm reading from you are restoring my faith in humanity bit by bit. Keep it up!

  • 7. Rayhawk  |  January 11, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Thank you for keeping everyone informed. I'll be following this site again tomorrow.

  • 8. peterparker  |  January 11, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Rick…thanks for the coverage!

    Am I the only one who thinks the tactic of discussing hurt feelings over discrimination from Prop 8 is the wrong way to go with this? I really think the argument that even with civil unions we are denied legal rights/benefits/obligations is a much more solid and winning strategy. Does anyone else agree with me?

  • 9. Chris  |  January 11, 2010 at 1:13 pm


    I agree, mostly. I think the anguish of being denied rights is a crucial and powerful aspect to this case that should be highlighted, but you want to make sure that approach does not yield any soundbites that could come off as whiny.

    I shuddered when I saw that one site – and they don't seem to be a conservative mouthpiece, either – had summed up plaintiff testimony with the headline "Calif. 'Isn't Letting Me Feel Happy.'"

    (Although frankly, anyone who seriously believes that Prop 8 merely hurt some feelings is probably beyond reach to begin with.)

    That aside, it sounds like all the plaintiffs did an outstanding job of coming off as the normal, decent Americans they are. I love that Perry's job is child welfare-focused – that ought to shoot some holes in the "homosexual child molester" routine that the opposition relies so heavily on.

  • 10. Ryan H.  |  January 11, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    I am SO thankful that you where there for us today! THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.
    Ryan H.

  • 11. Rayfo  |  January 11, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Tears!!! Thank you Rick. My heart soars!!!

  • 12. JDI  |  January 11, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Yes, thanks for doing this. Riveting.

  • 13. Prop 8 Trial; Day 1 Summa&hellip  |  January 11, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    […] An Earthquake […]

  • 14. Maddie  |  January 11, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Beautifully written. I can’t wait for tomorrow. I echo everyone else’s thank you’s!

  • 15. David Fischer  |  January 11, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    Rick, great coverage which I appreciate so much. Sitting here in frozen South Dakota with tears in my eyes I’m incredibly proud of these 2 couples, the judge, and “our” attorneys. This is the education America needs. Thank you.

  • 16. Don Diltz  |  January 11, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Rick, Thank you so much for the diligence and hard effort of reporting. Every minute you spend and every erg of energy is truly appreciated.

  • 17. homer  |  January 11, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    I really appreciate reading your updates of the trial.

  • 18. Michael Thomas  |  January 11, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Mr. Jacobs,
    I am so grateful and thankful for you keeping us all updated on the trial. I was hoping to watch it live but this was way better cause I could go back and re read your words over again. Give your fingers a well deserved rest tonight.
    In solidarity – Michael

  • 19. Chetchez  |  January 11, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Yes – Thanks Chad and Bruce for your balls.

    C’mon Rick – Stop making this too easy.

  • 20. Brad  |  January 11, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    I read Don’s comment: “Rick, Thank you so much for the diligence and hard effort of reporting. Every minute you spend and every erg of energy is truly appreciated.”

    As it happens, my eyes initially read the last sentence as: “Every minute you spend and every erg of energy is appreciated.”

    Truly appreciated. Truth appreciated. Thank you, Rick, for writing the first blog-draft of history.

  • 21. Brad  |  January 11, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Sorry, I cut a word out of my post :-). It should have read:

    I read Don’s comment: “Rick, Thank you so much for the diligence and hard effort of reporting. Every minute you spend and every erg of energy is truly appreciated.”

    As it happens, my eyes initially read the last sentence as: “Every minute you spend and every erg of energy is TRUTH appreciated.”

    Truly appreciated. Truth appreciated. Thank you, Rick, for writing the first blog-draft of history.

  • 22. Beth  |  January 11, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Thanks for the liveblogging! I couldn’t believe it when I heard they wouldn’t allow it to be broadcast, how frustrating — thanks for giving us the next best thing!

    Hooray for Olson and Boies!

  • 23. Keyan  |  January 11, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Thanks for being there. However this goes, the game is changing. I'm straight and married. For all my gay friends, I hope that Prop 8 goes down in flames. Or collapses under its own absurdities.

  • 24. Pat V.  |  January 11, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Thanks to Chad Griffin and Bruce Cohen for having balls?
    Male anatomy is not equivalent to courage, integrity, strength of will or whatever other quality you should really be praising here. How about using non-sexist language in your future posts. Thank you.

  • 25. chris  |  January 11, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Thanks so much for blogging this. I am totally bookmarking it SO HARD.

  • 26. Susan  |  January 11, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Thanks from the East Coast! What a wonderful and demanding thing to do.

  • 27. planetransgender  |  January 11, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Rick your writing is insightful and thoughtful, thank you for live blogging the trial. I have this sites RSS feed on the top of planetransgender.

  • 28. View from Europe  |  January 12, 2010 at 3:57 am

    I think it was right to show the human impact of the discrimination. If it had been broadcast it would have shown opponents of equal rights the human face of the suffering they cause, and gone some way to countering the abstract “othering” of gay people as a threat that goes on not just in the USA, but across the globe. Maybe some in Uganda might even have watched it and been moved.I

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    […] An Earthquake […]

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