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Archives – August, 2011

Hearing to Release Prop. 8 Trial Tapes Could Be a Game-Changer

A great piece from Karen discussing the AFER press call earlier this week -Adam

Cross-posted from

By Karen Ocamb

On Monday, Aug. 29, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the group sponsoring the federal constitutional challenge to Prop. 8, goes before District Court Chief Judge James Ware in San Francisco to argue for the release of the video recordings of the entire Prop. 8 trial, now known as Perry v. Brown. Unfortunately, the hearing itself will not be recorded because, Ware said in a curt sentence, “the Defendant-Intervenors do not consent.”

This is not surprising. As AFER’s Board President and lead counsels Ted Olson and Ted Boutrous noted on an Aug. 25 conference call with reporters (full audio available below), the Defendant-Intervenors don’t want the public to know anything about their arguments, or tactics, their lack of supporting evidence or to have the truth about the motives behind Prop. 8 exposed.

AFER will argue that the public has a First Amendment right to know what happened in open court, especially since a full trial transcript is already public as are many pieces of evidence on the court’s own website. Additionally, Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black has penned a Broadway play simply called 8 which is having its Broadway premiere on Monday, Sept. 19 at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre in New York City with an all-star cast. The play is taken from the trial transcripts to better expose the public to what was actually said and took place in the courtroom—at the end of which Judge Walker declared Prop. 8 unconstitutional.

Griffin couldn’t comment on whether the release of the entire Prop. 8 trial video recordings might impact political efforts—such as the anti-gay campaign now underway to place a referendum on the 2012 ballot to overturn the California FAIR Education Act. But what could be more significant than an expert for the Prop. 8 proponents such as David Blankenhorn on the witness stand saying: “We would be more American on the day we permitted same sex marriage than we were on the day before.”

Or Prop. 8 proponent Ken Miller saying before the passage of Prop. 8 that the initiative was about “bypassing checks and balances at the expense of minorities” and that such measures “might indeed have been motivated by animus.”

This video from Religious Right extremists the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins and Mile McPherson of the Rock Church in San Diego (both participated in Lou Engle’s anti-Prop. 8 rally TheCall) is already a part of the trial record and posted on the court’s website. Listen to how they talk about the supposed frightening “consequences” to children, something the anti-FAIR Act people are also warning:

Now surely some clever editor could splice together shots from the FRC tape with clips from the Prop. 8 trial to illustrate how the Religious Right lies in an explicit attempt to fool the public in the name of anti-gay bigotry. As AFER attorney Ted Boutrous says, let the public see expert witnesses on the stand testifying about “the consequences of discriminating against gay men and lesbians. And then the people can judge for themselves.” I think widely using the truth to brand the antigay bigots as liars makes suspect anything thing else they put forth—and could be a possible game-changer in the LGBT political arena.

The Courage Campaign has a petition drive going to try to get the court to release the full recordings of the trial. While some may question the effectiveness of petitions from the people, it is important to note that former District Court Judge Vaughn Walker noted during the Prop. 8 trial that he had received a petition with thousands of signatures. It does not go unnoticed.

AFER lead attorney Ted Olson summed up what the hearing will be about on Monday this way:

“The hearing is whether or not the American public will be able to see with their own eyes and listen with their own ears to the testimony that happened in a trial that effects the constitutional rights of hundreds of thousands of Californians and millions of Americans and people throughout the world. The proponents of Proposition 8 did not want a trial, they did not want testimony of witnesses under oath, they did not want experts testifying about the damage that’s done by discrimination against gay and lesbian individuals, they did not want evidence about the value of marriage and the importance of marriage as a fundamental right in this country, they did not want the public to see the truth. They did not want—and they do not want—the public to see a trial that took place a year and a half ago. They want to keep that in the dark. They want to influence public opinion about these issues through their advertising.”

Attorney Ted Boutrous, who will be arguing the case on Monday, told reporters:

“One of the great traditions we have in our country is that we have open courts and the public has, as a First Amendment Right, access to judicial records and to court proceedings. That’s’ really what’s at stake in hearings on Monday.”

Boutrous said that the U.S. Supreme Court and federal courts have held that right of access is really

“core to self-governance and our democracy because it allows the people to see and hear from themselves what’s happening in the courtrooms where juries and judges are deciding some of the most important issues of the day. This case, we believe, is the quintessential example of the type of case where the public should have maximum access and we have the best possible record—the video and audio of exactly what happened in the courtroom. There’s nothing secret about the materials—it all took place in open court.”

Boutrous said that in addition to exposing weaknesses in the case, the public would get to see experts testifying to

“the consequences of discriminating against gay men and lesbians. And then the people can judge for themselves.

We’re going to be arguing on Monday there is absolutely no judicial basis to keep this record secret: it happened in a public courtroom; the arguments about the witnesses being afraid are completely baseless—the proponents never brought any evidence forward; and of course, the testimony that occurred, some of it is posted on the court’s website from experts from the proponents. It’s a complete distraction. It was the only argument the proponents could come up with—to try to explain why they wanted the trial proceedings to be kept secret once they were videotaped. So we think we have extremely powerful arguments for the release of the video tapes.”

Griffin also argued that the hearing will expose the Prop. 8 proponents—of the same anti-gay ilk as those trying to overturn the California FAIR Education Act—are liars:

“There is a difference between fact and fiction and we all need to focus on that difference as we all enter into Monday’s hearing. Throughout the trial and since, the anti-marriage proponents of Proposition 8 have consistently argued that the two witnesses and those that did not come to trial feared intimidation. …

These are witnesses who are incredibly outspoken public figures: they teach college classes, they get paid to speak, they have done debates around the world on these issues, they have sought incredible publicity as they have published their books, their articles, their newsletters, and have done a whole host of media appearances, television, print, radio….

What’s clear is that these are individuals who have sought their entire careers, publicity. The one difference in this trial was that the witnesses were going to be under oath and penalty of perjury and they were to be cross-examined. And that was what was unique in this trial…. So it’s very clear why the anti-marriage proponents of Prop 8 don’t want these tapes released.”

On the call, Chad Griffin, Ted Boutrous and Ted Olson referenced a few key documents available here.

25 Comments August 27, 2011

Hurricane winds won’t keep us from getting DOMA repealed

Adam Bink, Courage Campaign's Director of Online Programs

By Ana Beatriz Cholo

This afternoon, Adam Bink, Courage Campaign’s hardy Director of Online Programs, and Jo Deutsch, Freedom to Marry’s Federal Director, battled wind, rain and fleeing residents on the I-95 from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore, Maryland to deliver 3,000 signatures to Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s district office.

Fortunately, they arrived before the office closed for the day. Adam and Jo spoke to Mikulski’s office director for about 20 minutes. Together with Freedom to Marry and Equality Maryland, we’re scheduling a meeting for early next month with Sen. Mikulski on Capitol Hill.

Marylanders are urging the Senator to become a cosponsor of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Senator Cardin has already signed on as a co-sponsor.

No word if Adam and Jo pitched in to help with setting up the sandbags.

Here’s the joint press release that was sent out earlier today regarding the petition delivery:


Groups Deliver Nearly 3,000 Signatures Urging Sen. Mikulski to Sign onto Respect for Marriage Act

Baltimore, MD – Today, Courage Campaign, Freedom to Marry and Equality Maryland will present Senator Barbara Mikulski with nearly 3,000 signatures urging the Senator to become a cosponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

“The Democratic governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley, is backing a bill to extend marriage to gay and lesbian couples next year,” said Rick Jacobs, chair and founder of the 700,000-member Courage Campaign. “Surely Senator Mikulski wants to lead the effort to assure that all married people in Maryland are treated fairly, which requires repeal of DOMA.”

The signatures were collected through an online campaign by the three groups. They represent a variety of constituents from around Maryland, which will likely consider a bill that would extend marriage equality to committed same-sex couples in the state. Currently, Maryland honors the marriages of same-sex couples married out of state, but those couples are still harmed by federal marriage discrimination under DOMA. Senator Cardin has already signed on as a co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act.

“Recent census data show nearly 17,000 same-sex couples living across the state of Maryland. These loving, committed couples and their families are harmed every day by the denial of marriage, and by federal discrimination against the marriages they are able to celebrate across the border in the District of Columbia and six other states,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry. “We hope that Senator Mikulski will heed the call of her constituents and join us in ending marriage discrimination at the federal level and in Maryland.”

The signatories signed onto a letter that reads:

We write on behalf of thousands of Maryland families who are presently denied critical protections and recognition under the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act”, or DOMA. Married same-sex couples are treated as legal strangers in the eyes of the federal government because of DOMA and excluded from the more than 1,100 federal laws in which marital status is a factor, including Social Security, immigration, and family and medical leave.

For the full text of the letter, click here.

“A majority of Marylanders support the right of loving and committed same-sex couples to marry — and Maryland is poised to ensure that all married couples have their relationships legally recognized by their home state.,” said Lisa Polyak, acting chair of Equality Maryland. “However, same-sex couples will never be equal under the law until federal restrictions are banished. This means the so-called Defense of Marriage Act must be repealed. Sen. Mikulski’s support as a co-sponsor of this bill would reflect the will of her constituents, and make clear that she stands on the side of legal equality for all citizens.”


Courage Campaign is a multi-issue online organizing network that empowers more than 700,000 grassroots and netroots supporters to work for progressive change and full equality in California and across the country. Through a one-of-a-kind online tool called Testimony: Take A Stand, the Courage Campaign is chronicling the sights, sounds and stories of LGBT families and all who wage a daily struggle against discrimination across America. For more information about Testimony, please visit,

Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.

Equality Maryland is Maryland’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights group, with thousands of members across the entire state. Equality Maryland includes: a 501© (4) advocacy organization that lobbies in Annapolis and across the state to create equal protection under the law for LGBT Marylanders and their families; a 501©(3) educational foundation that works to eliminate prejudice and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity through outreach, education, research, community organizing, training and coalition building; and Equality Maryland PAC, which exists to influence elections. For more information, visit






16 Comments August 26, 2011

NOM EXPOSED: NOM is right. Very, very right.

Cross-posted at Good As You

By Jeremy Hooper


The National Organization For Marriage loves to give off a nonpartisan/bipartisan vibe. Particularly when it comes to something like the Defense of Marriage Act, the organization is quite fond of highlighting any sort of Democratic support, past or present, as they work to build up a psychology that overlooks the obviously partisan efforts keeping this nation’s civil marriage policies on the political football field. Or when NOM joins up with someone like Democratic New York state senator Ruben Diaz on a local level, the organization makes every effort of parlay this one limited source of support into a reality that belies all credible polling on the subject. They want to build a coalition, and they want independent and Democratic voters to think of NOM as a mainstream voice from an unbiased center.

But over the past year or so, NOM has completely destroyed this illusion. And in recent months, the three people who are most responsible for the organization — Chairman Emeritus Robert George, Board Chair Maggie Gallagher, and President Brian Brown — have taken the non/bipartisan fantasy to an irrefutably and irrevocably partisan place. Let’s examine.

(1) Robert George, founder of the American Principles Project: The American Principles Project is a non-profit group created by NOM co-founder Robert George. The group purports to be about “preserving and propagating the fundamental principles on which our country was founded,” which, for APP, always translates to supporting the GOP, particularly its conservative wing. APP puts it like this:

Are we conservatives? You bet we are, if by a “conservative” one means a believer in the rule of law, democracy, limited government and respect for civil liberties, private property and the free market, equality of opportunity, the sanctity of human life, the protection of marriage and the family, and the defense of our nation’s sovereignty and security. For us, these convictions are not platitudes. We are convinced that the renewal of our nation and the flourishing of our people vitally depend on making these historic ideals and commitments once again operative in the laws and policies by which we govern ourselves.

Foundations of the American Principles Project [APP]

On its board and or staff, APP includes a number of NOM personalities (Luis Tellez, Maggie Gallagher, Thomas Peters, etc), and the group routinely pushes NOM’s “protect marriage” work. APP’s biggest, most headline-grabbing event to date will come this Labor Day, when the organization hosts a Republican Presidential Forum in South Carolina. Theirs is a Republican forum, because again: NOM’s founder has founded a decidedly Republican group.

(2) Maggie Gallagher, This month, the aforementioned American Principles Project launched a new website and online talk show called Maggie Report, turning NOM’s key face and voice into a mini online magnate. APP launched this effort alongside Tea Party Review magazine. Tea Party, as in highly conservative, highly partisan, very much GOP.

On her weekly video conversations and commentaries, Maggie is very much the out and proud conservative Republican, taking on every issue (marriage included) from a distinctly Reagan-cum-Palin place. Plus the Maggie Report website itself is like an even more conservative Drudge Report, something I mean quite literally:


The site essentially *is* Drudge in terms of style and tone, just with even more of a right wing bent in terms of content. All of it now inextricably linked to Maggie’s cherished (and chaired) NOM.

(3) Brian Brown, founder of But while Maggie’s newest foray into right wing politics might be the latest example of NOM’s highly partisan bent, it is not the most overt. That would come in the form of Brian Brown’s, a site built for the lone purpose of financing conservative candidates and causes. Just look at some of these quips from the site’s “About Us” page, the wording of which is attributed to Brian himself:

ActRight revolutionizes online conservative political action.”

“We want to make it simple for you to make this country a place that Ronald Reagan would be proud of.”

“Yes, yes, we know this country is a Republic and not a pure Democracy, but we’ve had far too much rule by liberal elites and establishment RINOs for our taste. ActRight is a community of dedicated conservatives; as such we all deserve a voice. We’ve figured out some pretty amazing ways for you to decide the future of the conservative movement by your actions on ActRight.”

“Brian Brown (that’s me) is Chairman and Founder of In growing two conservative organizations, it became clear to me that the left was doing a much better job in taking advantage of online giving and actions than we were. ActBlue alone has raised over $150,000,000 for far left candidates. That’s a lot of moolah. Then you’ve got and a panoply of other Soros-funded groups organizing online.”

“You decide the future of the conservative movement.”

“If you don’t have time for some light reading of Burke’s Reflections, Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, and Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind, the best recent statement of what it means to be a conservative is the Mt. Vernon Statement. Read it. Here are our first principles in clear and concise form. If you read it with fists clenched and your jugular vein bulging, is probably not for you . . . or you might be a troll from DailyKos.”

“All federal Republican candidates appear on ActRight. But from there you actually decide! Anyone who has become a member of ActRight by donating at least $5.00 to any federal candidate can vote RINO’s off of the site by hitting the RINO button. Once fifty percent of the members have voted a candidate a RINO he or she is removed. I told you that this was about Democracy!”

“No liberal causes allowed!”

“About Us” [ActRight]



This site is right in every sense of the term’s partisan usage, from a man who is aggressive in his belief that discrimination is the right course for marriage.

And remember: ActRight is the very site that recently claimed a nearly five million dollar fundraising haul for the National Organization For Marriage’s “Let The People Vote” campaign. The site also lists NOM causes among its top earners and NOM supporters, from obvious to obscure, as its top donors. So it’s not like Brian’s ActRight effort (the very first “like” that NOM added to its organizational Facebook page, by the way) is disconnected from his “protect marriage” work: It’s the fundraising arm for it!
So there you have it: Three overtly partisan efforts from the only three faces that adorn NOM’s “About NOM” page. Next time you hear the debate framed in a way that denies the obvious, please remind folks: NOM might be non-partisan in the sense that they’ll take whatever non-Republican vote or dollar that may come their way, but it’s nearly impossible to get in bed with this group without also making room for one gigantic elephant! Everyone should know that, from the common voter to the pundit (or host) tasked with challenging NOM’s claims.

43 Comments August 26, 2011

Prop 8 trial: Audio of AFER press call re August 29th release-the-tapes hearing

By Adam Bink

This morning, the AFER team including Ted Olson and Theodore Boutrous, held a press availability call to discuss Monday’s August 29th hearing and other issues. Audio:

20 Comments August 25, 2011

Prop 8 trial: August 29th hearing on motion to unseal recordings will… not be recorded/broadcasted

By Adam Bink

Via e-mail, from the district court:

Chief Judge James Ware issued the following statement with regard to recording / broadcasting the proceedings in the matter Perry v. Schwarzenegger presently scheduled for hearing on Monday, August 29, 2011, at 9:00 a.m.:

“We will not be recording Monday’s Perry hearing as the Defendant-Intervenors do not consent.”

Which, funny enough, is during a hearing about releasing the tapes from the trial.

What do they have to hide?

19 Comments August 25, 2011

LGBT roundup, Thursday, August 25th

By Adam Bink

A few items I thought would be of interest:

  • Jeremy Hooper has done a great job in the past few months pointing out how National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has gone way beyond marriage when it comes to their communications. They now sound more like Family Research Council when it comes to “homosexuality”, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, bullying, and the like. Today’s post asks why they’re taking on DADT at the risk of being even more fringey fringe. From an organizational standpoint, it may not make a lot of sense.
  • The New York Times looks at Gary Gates’ demographic data on where same-sex couples make up the highest percentages of the population. Many aren’t surprises — Provincetown, MA tops the list — but some are.
  • An interesting profile of life in the uniform as a closeted servicemember, in GQ.
  • An interview with Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier in the Bay Area Reporter (h/t Sagesse).
  • Metro Weekly has a lengthy interview with Jose Antonio Vargas, the openly gay immigrant journalist who recently told the world he was undocumented.
  • Jeremy takes a heartfelt stand against donating to Obama until he comes out for full civil marriage equality for same-sex couples. Voting and the like, yes; opening a wallet, can’t bring himself. It’s a tough nut. Where do you stand?

And what else are you reading?

19 Comments August 25, 2011

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