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Release The Tapes And Heal a Nation

Prop 8 trial Televising Videos

Coverage of today’s hearing will start at 8 AM PST -Adam

Cross-posted at Huffington Post

By Rick Jacobs

Eighteen months ago, the gay and lesbian equality movement won the war. It happened in U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker’s San Francisco courtroom. It was called Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which resulted in a ruling overturning Prop 8. The evidence in that trial made crystal clear that gays and lesbians are denied full equality because of historic prejudice and fear. There is no other reason, but the problem is only 0.000001 percent of Americans actually got to see it.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued an injunction banning televising or live-streaming the hearing, so I live-blogged the entire trial. It was gut-wrenching and cathartic to watch, but write as mightily as I and others did, only seeing the witnesses, the cross-examination and the facial expressions conveys the essence of that historic event.

The trial was captured on video. Courage created high-profile reenactments, which are a part of the plaintiff’s pleadings on Monday, but the proponents of Prop. 8, the folks at Protect who spent $40 million on the Prop 8 campaign reinforcing negative stereotypes and dehumanizing gays and lesbians, want that video record buried forever. And no wonder: their tactics and arguments were laid bare; their legal strategy shown for the sham that it was.

On Monday, this all could change. U.S. Northern California District Court Chief Judge James Ware will hear a motion to make public the video recordings from that historic trial. The handful of us who actually saw the trial last year understand the power of the world-class scholars who testified to the history of legalized discrimination that caused gays and lesbians to lose jobs, careers, families and in more cases than not, lives. We also saw the stories of the plaintiffs, ordinary Americans who raise and are families in fact, but not according to law. How can we forget the embarrassing two witnesses from Protect Marriage, one of whom testified under oath that marriage equality would be good for America? Yep, that was their star witness.

The trial was actually not about Prop 8 alone. It put homosexuality and America on trial and that’s precisely why the Prop 8 folks kept hiding everywhere they could.

During the trial, they sought to prevent having their own ads played and entered into evidence. They struggled to keep emails sent to dozens or hundreds of people during the campaign “secret” because the documents showed that their strategy was to vilify gay people.

Though they lost in court, they want to assure that all of the evidence is as hard to find as possible so that they can continue to use the same tactics to manipulate the media and public.

Even now, the same folks who brought us Prop. 8 are fanning the flames of prejudice by seeking another ballot fight, this one designed to overturn the FAIR Education Act, a new California law that merely includes the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and movements into public school social studies courses. These strands of our history would stand next to those of other movements and civil rights battles, other heroes and leaders, whether Latino, African American, women or disabled.

Once again, the opponents of an inclusive America shout from the tree tops that children will be harmed if they know that say Bayard Rustin, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s chief strategist and right-hand man, was gay. And that he suffered indignities because he was gay. Instead, the folks who brought us Prop. 8 will say, as Protect Marriage’s Dr. Tam said at the trial, that gay people are deranged pedophiles, that if children know about “gay,” they’ll somehow catch it, as if it’s a disease.

The trial dismissed these attacks as hurtful lies. And for the first time in our history, a federal court was able to find as fact that homosexuality is not a choice, which means neither children nor anyone else can “catch the gay” anymore than they can choose to be Beethoven.

Judge Ware has the opportunity to let Americans learn for themselves by seeing the trial video transcript. They can see what I saw, that there is no case for keeping gay and lesbians as second-class citizens. They’ll hear the witness for testify under oath that the children of gay and lesbian parents would be better off if their parents could marry. They’ll see that as recently as when Dwight Eisenhower was President, our nation prohibited gays and lesbians from working for the U.S. government, a stigma only reversed fully with the end of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ next month.

This was the most important civil rights trial of our generation. It will affect millions of Americans, straight and LGBT. It will show parents why Americans 30 and under overwhelmingly support full equality because younger people are not burdened by the stigmas and artificial barriers erected to make gay people “other.”

By releasing the video of the trial, Judge Ware will take a mighty step toward healing and unifying this nation. As chiseled in the library at my alma mater, Georgetown University, so should the judge rule, “Knowledge is truth and the truth shall set you free.”


  • 1. AnonyGrl  |  August 29, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Here are the cookies and MILK as we settle in to watch today's proceedings. Feel free to pass them around.


  • 2. Alan_Eckert  |  August 29, 2011 at 8:50 am


  • 3. Marko  |  August 29, 2011 at 7:58 am

    Will the hearing be televised as announced earlier?

  • 4. Adam Bink  |  August 29, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Judge Ware ruled that the proceedings will not be televised.

  • 5. gaydadtobe  |  August 29, 2011 at 8:49 am

    Really it was the Defendent-Intervenors. All they had to say was a simple no, and they get to call the shots.

  • 6. Ann S.  |  August 29, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    It's the CA Supreme Court hearing that is going to be televised.

  • 7. Alan_Eckert  |  August 29, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    I will need to watch it online later since I'll be in the car all day. I'll be following twitter though (as long as I have reception)

  • 8. Ronnie  |  August 29, 2011 at 7:59 am

    Subscribing & sharing………….

    Op-ed: The Tragic Consequence of Being an Anonymous Minority Statistic
    Author Terry Angel Mason says it’s not only the black churches that are to blame for violence against LGBT people of color.
    By Terry Angel Mason, op-ed contributor

    "Simply put, even though Americans pride ourselves on living in a technically and socially advanced democratic society, in many ways we are hypocrites. America has allowed bigots and religious extremists to enshrine countless unethical laws that illegally deny same-gender-loving people equal rights, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Too many religious leaders and right-wing politicians are allowed to use the Bible to justify their outlandish actions. What's worse, many of them feel no remorse for their homophobic statements that fuel attacks on innocent people of all sexual orientations, and of all races."

    (me) Hammer introduces Nail to Wall….They have an amazing conversation. Hang a picture frame on that quote……. <3…Ronnie

  • 9. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  August 29, 2011 at 8:01 am

    […] you missed it, Rick’s blog post earlier on releasing the tapes can be found here or at Huffington […]

  • 10. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  August 29, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Morning all…..ready to see history unfold? 🙂

  • 11. Reformed  |  August 29, 2011 at 8:20 am

    historic prejudice exploited by fear mongering to be more exact. No one is actually in fear (IMHO).

  • 12. James Sweet  |  August 29, 2011 at 11:15 am

    I am sorry to nitpick on what appears to be simply a rhetorical slip-up in this otherwise powerful piece, but I just cannot let this one go:

    the history of legalized discrimination that caused gays and lesbians to lose jobs, careers, families and in more cases than not, lives.

    Emphasis added.

    I think you meant to say, "in far too many cases" or something to that effect. The sentence as written implies that >50% of LGBT people have been killed by the history of legalized discrimination against them, which of course is clearly false. (Not that some of NOM's supporters don't wish it were true; see also, their efforts to support Ugandan legislation that is arguably in violation of international law… but I digress!)

    Anyway, I guess it's not important, but it was driving me nuts so I had to say something. Sorry! 🙂

  • 13. Alyson  |  August 29, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    I had the same thought actually! Thanks.

  • 14. Deeelaaach  |  August 30, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    As always thank you for the work you do for us! One of your statement I really like, though I'm going to paraphrase it here: I can't choose to be gay any more than I can choose to be Beethoven!

  • 15. Deeelaaach  |  August 30, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Actually, I should've thanked the entire P8TT team, so I'll do that now – thank you all to P8TT, Courage Campaign and other individuals and organizations who do what you do for us. Sorry, I don't always think straight.

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