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Tag: Gary Segura

Liveblogging Day 8: Part I

By Rick Jacobs

I’m back up in the overflow room on 19, where I’ve been for the entire trial. Sitting behind me in the jury box are the folks from Prop. 8/Protect Marriage. I’m at what would be the plaintiff’s table in this ceremonial courtroom. In the front row, which is like a big church pew (yes, I have been into a church!) are Andrew Harmon from Regent Media/Advocate and Dave Dayan from Firedoglake. There are only a couple of others in here today even though I think Mr. Tam will be up today, which should be fascinating.

The news just delivered from DC that Citizens United won its Supreme Court case is a jolt, but in this bubble of the Prop. 8 trial, it carries two messages. The first, which is very scary, is that corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money for election purposes. As Eden James, Courage’s Managing Director just said, welcome to California, brought to you by Chevron. But there’s a twist. Ted Olson argued the case on behalf of Citizens United. And he won. Again. Ted has an amazing success rate with the Supreme Court. Let’s just hope that he his odds continue in our favor on this trial.

We should start any minute with Prof. Gary Segura being cross-examined by Mr. Thompson. Prof. Segura was up nearly all day yesterday. If you have not caught up from then, take a look. It was a revealing, powerful day in which we learned about the difference between political power and simple influence. By Prof. Segura’s definition, with which I wholeheartedly agree, LGBT people are powerless in the political context.

And that’s what this case is all about. Are gays and lesbians a “suspect class” worthy of protection under the Constitution? So far, the plaintiffs have made an incredibly powerful case that we are.

[UPDATE] 9:24

0840: Judge: Very well. Any matters to take up? If not, I remind Prof. Segura you are still under oath. Mr. Thompson, your witness.

T: May I approach the witness? (more…)

154 Comments January 21, 2010

Day 8 Preview: More Circular Logic And William Tam!

by Brian Leubitz

Yesterday, we saw the direct of Prof. Gary Segura go fairly smoothly. Dr. Segura testified about the relative political power of gays and lesbians as a class of citizens, and their level of political vulnerability. And then we hit cross-examination. As your friendly live-blogger, I thought my fingers were going to start bleeding at any moment. David Thompson, the attorney for the defendant-intervenors, rapid-fired questions, and Dr. Segura rapid fired them back.

Basically, Thompson went through every possible event, election, legislation, or judicial decision that could possibly be construed as a victory for the LGBT community and asked Dr. Segura whether he felt that represented political power for the community. Dr. Segura pointed out, time after time, that you have to view each victory in context, each election in context. For example, Annise Parker, the newly elected Mayor of Houston, is an out lesbian. However, she does not get benefits for her partner, and says that she will not take the lead on them. Furthermore, Parker lives in a state with no protections for LGBT employees, and little, if any, protections whatsoever for the community.

In Dr. Segura’s words, Parker lives not only in Houston, but also in Harris County, also in Texas, and also in the United States of America. And this pattern of going back over each fact looks set to continue for the fist 90 minutes or so of today’s testimony.

The real fun gets started after Dr. Segura steps down, as the now infamous William Tam takes the stand. Tam was originally one of the Defendant-Intervenors, until he decided he didn’t like people paying attention to the stench of crazy emanating from his person. That’s Dr. Tam to the right, and since he seems to not love the media attention as much as he did about 18 months ago, we had to rustle up a picture from back then.

Take this following series of greatest hits from Mr. Tam:

Question: “And it is your understanding that part of the gay agenda is legalizing underage sex?”
Answer: “Right.” (Page 43 of deposition)

“They lose no time in pushing the gay agenda — after legalizing same-sex marriage, they want to legalize prostitution. What will be next? On their agenda list is: legalize having sex with children.” (Pro-Prop. 8 email by Tam, page 78 of deposition)

“We hope to convince Asian-Americans that gay marriage will encourage more children to experiment with the gay lifestyle and that the lifestyle comes with all kinds of disease.” (Pro-Prop. 8 media interview by Tam, page 77 of deposition)

Dr. Tam’s testimony should be a thriller of the depths of the right-wing.  They’ve been trying to hide this guy, and this sect of their campaign. But, they can’t hide him forever, and the country should be in for a bit of an awakening.

Finally, if health and time permit, Gregory M. Herek, Ph.D. a Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Davis, will testify today. He will testify about the nature of sexual orientation, how mainstream mental health professionals and behavioral scientists regard homosexuality, benefits conferred by marriage, stereotypes relating to lesbians and gay men, stigma and prejudice directed at lesbians and gay men, the harm to lesbians and gay men and their families as a consequence of being denied the right to marry, and how the institution of domestic partnerships differs from that of marriage and is linked with antigay stigma.

Stay tuned right here for all the action…

44 Comments January 21, 2010

Liveblogging Day 7: Daily Summary

By Julia Rosen

It’s that time of the day, where we compile the massive liveblogging into one thread for those who have broken F5 keys, or kids that demand their attention, or professors, or bosses and couldn’t stay obsessively refreshing all day long.

Today, Rick Jacobs and Brian Leubitz took turns again posting. Tomorrow, Rick will be there throughout the day. We are getting close to the end of the plaintiff’s witnesses. They might be able to wrap up tomorrow, but it could bleed into Friday. (more…)

17 Comments January 20, 2010

What is Power?

By Rick Jacobs

The essential question coming out of Day 7 of the Prop 8 trial is clear:

What is political power?

Today, Gary M. Segura, a Stanford Political Science professor, convincingly testified about the relative political power of the LGBT community as a class of citizens, as well as the level of vulnerability experienced by gays and lesbians in the political process.

Segura first defined the differences between political power and weaknesses. He then showed that gays and lesbians do not have that much power, which is surprising to some. Protect Marriage attorney David Thompson is trying to show that gays do have power because we give money, have access to public figures like Speaker Pelosi, have marriage in a few states and raised $43 million against Prop 8.

But juxtapose this with the amazing revelation of documents earlier this afternoon that show how clearly the Mormon and Catholic Churches coordinated and ran the field campaign for Prop 8. We knew the churches were involved deeply, but now we see that they essentially made the campaign work.

The summary from both sides reduces to this: After 30 years, we have a hate crimes bill. And even though Mr. Thompson keeps touting the Human Rights Campaign’s own writings promoting HRC, we see that we have little real power.

Let’s look at the record:

1. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was a gift of the Clinton Administration; there is no sign that President Obama is going to move to repeal it anytime soon, especially after the Coakley defeat last night.

2. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was a gift of the Clinton Administration. We still have no commitment from President Obama or the Democratic leadership in Congress that this will be repealed and certainly not when.

3. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) languishes somewhere between the House and grey skies.

4. We have lost 33 out 34 ballot fights and 75% of the 200 or so initiatives that have been waged against us.

As Mr. Thompson for the defense inadvertently points out by having played excerpts from Obama’s speech, the gays get politicians to show up and get invited to parties. But nothing happens. We see that the hundreds of millions of dollars that the LGBT community has spent has not resulted in very little real power — the kind of power that can actually conjure fear in the minds of elected officials. As a friend and senior advisor to Obama remarked to me recently, not one federal office holder worries in the least about what the gay community says or does.

Professor Segura made clear that the foregoing is not necessarily true for Latinos or African Americans or women or evangelicals, as office holders appear to factor the votes of these specific constituencies into their decisions more often (recognizing, of course, that the the LGBT community is inclusive of all of these constituencies).

On this first anniversary of Barack Obama’s inauguration when Democrats are wringing their hands over the meaning of Martha Coakley’s defeat in Massachusetts, this trial shows us the clear path ahead.

First, progressives and the LGBT community itself must continue to support such breakthrough efforts as this trial. It is truly a groundbreaking event.

Second, we must build true political power. That means we have to show office holders that we will fight them, that we will run primaries against them and that we will reward them for good behavior. The idea that getting lots of stories in the newspaper is somehow going to change politics is ludicrous.

Third, we have to embrace and empower the grassroots communities that we see reading this blog and participating in any number of activities to advance equality, online and offline. An organization like the Courage Campaign Institute is more powerful with hundreds of thousands of small donors than this movement can ever be with a few donations from big corporations. And we are most powerful when we have hundreds of thousands of people across this country who will exercise political power.

Finally, we have to tell our stories. Let’s never forget how this trial began and of what this fight consists. It’s all about Jeff and Paul, Kris and Sandy. It’s about each and every family, straight and gay.

Those who possess power get results. If we have it, we don’t use it very well. It’s time to change all of that. And it’s starting right here in a Federal court in San Francisco.

48 Comments January 20, 2010

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