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Tag: Ilan Meyer

Greatest hits from the trial

By Julia Rosen

For those of you who have not been able to read every single liveblog thread, here’s a few of the greatest hits courtesy of the fine folks at AFER.

This is what they did not want to see on TV:

I just want to get married…it’s as simple as that. I love someone. I want to get married. My state is supposed to protect me. It’s not supposed to discriminate against me.” – Plaintiff Paul Katami

Here they are damaging their own case before it even really starts:

Judge Walker: “I’m asking you to tell me how it would harm opposite-sex marriages.”
Pro-Prop. 8 Atty Charles Cooper: “All right.”
Judge Walker: “All right. Let’s play on the same playing field for once.”
Cooper: “Your Honor, my answer is: I don’t know. I don’t know.” – 10/14/09 pretrial hearing rejecting defendant intervenors’ request for summary judgment

And at the tail-end they are still hurting their own cause with David Blankenhorn, one of their two “expect” witnesses.

Blankenhorn admitted that “Adopting same-sex marriage would be likely to improve the well-being of gay and lesbian households and their children,” and would be “a victory for the worthy ideas of tolerance and inclusion” and “a victory for, and another key expansion of, the American idea.” He also testified that it would result in fewer children growing up in state institutions and instead being raised by loving parents and would in fact reduce the divorce rate; reduce promiscuity; improve the stability of couples’ relationships; increase wealth for families and reduce government costs; and a decline in “anti-gay prejudice” and “anti-gay hate crimes.”

Contrast that to our experts.

ILAN H. MEYER, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Clinical Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, testified that Prop. 8 treats gay men and lesbians as if they are “not seen as equal… not respected by my state or by my country, by my fellow citizens.”

“As I described stigma earlier, I would say that law, and certainly a constitutional part of the law, would be a very strong part of, as I described, the social structures that define stigma, that define access. In a very simple way, you can think of it as a block or gate toward a particular institution, toward attaining a particular goal. So, in that sense, it is very much fitting in the definition of structural stigma,” Meyer testified. “[Prop. 8 imposes stigma] by the fact that it denies them access to the institution of marriage. As I said, people in our society have goals that are cherished by all people. Again, that’s part of social convention, that we all grow up raised to think that there are certain things that we want to achieve in life. And, in this case, this Proposition 8, in fact, says that if you are gay or lesbian, you cannot achieve this particular goal.”

Or this:

LETITIA ANNE PEPLAU, Ph.D. Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, testified that she has “great confidence that some of the things that come from marriage, believing that you are part of the first class kind of relationship in this country, that you are — that you are in the status of relationships that this society most values, most esteems, considers the most legitimate and the most appropriate, undoubtedly has benefits that are not part of domestic partnerships.”

I’m a bit of an American history nut and this was one of the most interesting pieces of information from the trial for me.

DR. COTT also testified about the meaning of marriage in the context of slavery. “When slaves were emancipated, they flocked to get married. And this was not trivial to them, by any means. They saw the ability to marry legally, to replace the informal unions in which they had formed families and had children, many of them, to replace those informal unions with legal, valid marriage in which the states in which they lived would presumably protect their vows to each other. In fact, one quote that historians have drawn out from the record … it was said by an ex-slave who had also been a Union soldier, and he declared, ‘The marriage covenant is the foundation of all our rights.’”

“And then in corollary with that,” Dr. Cott continued, “there are other ways in which this position of civil rights, of basic citizenship, is a feature of the ability to marry and to choose the partner you want to choose. … It has to do with a black man, Dred Scott, who tried to say, when he was in a non-slave-holding state, that he was a citizen. And in an infamous decision, the Supreme Court denied him that claim. And why this is relevant here is that Justice Taney spent about three paragraphs of that opinion remarking that the fact that Dred Scott as a black man could not marry a white woman — in other words, that there were marriage laws in the state where he was and many other states, that prevented blacks from marrying whites — was a stigma that marked him as less than a full citizen…. he remarked on it because of the extent to which this limitation on Dred’s ability to marry was a piece of evidence that Justice Taney was remarking upon in his opinion to say this shows he
could not be a full citizen.”

From Dr. Gregory Herek:

He also agreed with the following from the APA: “…the American Psychological Association concludes that there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation” and testified that no other major mental health organizations have endorsed therapies to change sexual orientation, and that aside from being ineffective, they can cause harm.

“It’s important to realize that the underlying assumption of these therapies tends to be that there’s something wrong; that homosexuality is a mental illness; that it’s something that needs to be cured or something that needs to be fixed or repaired. And that, of course, is completely inconsistent with the stance of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and other professional organizations in this area,” he testified.

Professor Chauncey testified about the decades of discrimination against LGBTs and how the Prop 8 campaign was just more of the same.

Specifically regarding Prop. 8, Dr. Chauncey testified that “the wave of campaigns that we have seen against gay marriage rights in the last decade are, in effect, the latest stage and cycle of anti-gay rights campaigns of a sort that I have been describing; that they continue with a similar intent and use some of the same imagery.”

After viewing several pro-Prop. 8 television ads and videos, Dr. Chauncey testified that the language and images suggesting the ballot initiative was needed to “protect children” were reminiscent of efforts to “demonize” gay men and lesbians ranging from police raids to efforts to remove gay and lesbian teachers from public schools.

“You have a pretty strong echo of this idea that simple exposure to gay people and their relationships is somehow going to lead a whole generation of young kids to become gay,” Dr. Chauncey testified. “The underlying message here is something about the – the undesirability of homosexuality, that we don’t want our children to become this way.

And yes there was even a George Washington reference during the trial:

DR. COTT challenged statements made by defendant-intervenors’ attorney Charles Cooper during his opening statement that procreation is the “central and … defining purpose of marriage.” She testified that the ability or willingness to procreate has never been a litmus test for marriage.

“There has never been a requirement that a couple produce children in order to have a valid marriage. Of course, people beyond procreative age have always been allowed to marry. And known sterility or barrenness in a woman has never been a reason not to allow a marriage. In fact, it’s a surprise to many people to learn that George Washington, who is often called the father of our country, was sterile,” she testified.

As for death of straight marriage when gays are allowed to tie the knot:

DR. PEPLAU testified that there is no evidence to suggest that marriage equality would harm others.

“It is very hard for me to imagine you would have a happily married couple who would say, ‘Gertrude, we have been married for 30 years, but I think we have to throw in the towel because Adam and Stewart down the block got married,’” Dr. Peplau testified.

Which one do you think did the most to help our case?

27 Comments January 30, 2010

American Foundation for Equal Rights rounds up the first week of the Prop 8 trial

By Eden James

The American Foundation for Equal Rights, the organization that assembled the legal team challenging Prop 8 in court, has released a summary of the first week of the trial.

If you’ve only been able to catch bits and pieces of the proceedings, this should help you get caught up relatively quickly before the trial begins again on Tuesday morning.

Check it out:


Ten witnesses, including Kris Perry, Sandy Stier, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo and five eminent experts, clearly and convincingly demonstrated critical points in the federal trial on the unconstitutionality of Prop. 8 during its opening week:

• Marriage is vitally important in American society;

• By denying gay men and lesbians the right to marry, Proposition 8 causes grievous harm to the plaintiffs and other gay men and lesbians throughout California, and adds yet another chapter to the long history of discrimination they have suffered;

• Proposition 8 perpetrates irreparable, immeasurable and discriminatory harm for no good reason.


The court also viewed video footage from the deposition of William Tam. Tam is one of the five Official Proponents of Prop. 8, and as such was personally responsible for putting it on the ballot and for intervening in this case to take over the defense of the initiative.

The video footage of his deposition included statements from Tam such as this one, from a pro-Prop. 8 email he wrote: “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.” (more…)

33 Comments January 17, 2010

Liveblogging Day 4: Daily Summary

By Julia Rosen

Well this one was a long one, with Judge Walker continuing the cross-examination of Dr. Meyer well past 5 pm.

As has become tradition here, the compiled liveblogging from Rick Jacobs is below. You can find all of the Daily Summaries here. They will all be categorized and appear there. Same with liveblogging, all of the posts are here. Per a reader’s suggestion, we have added a category cloud on the right side bar. It should make navigating the site easier.

Rick will be back in that hard seat hammering out the live coverage of day five tomorrow morning first thing. (more…)

9 Comments January 14, 2010

This Afternoon Testimony: Homophobia on Trial

By Paul Hogarth

Rick did a great job live-blogging Dr. Ilan Meyer’s testimony this afternoon on what was clearly heavy emotional stuff to digest.  Again, there was not much “law” in here per se — but it does really get to the heart of this case: homophobia is on trial.  By bringing in an expert to argue that LGBT people suffer a psychological stigma that affects even trivial parts of their lives, the plaintiffs showed that merely giving legal benefits to same-sex couples in a “parallel institution” like civil unions is not sufficient.

It reminded me of the plaintiff’s case in Brown v. Board of Education (1954).  The problem wasn’t just that black children were being sent to inferior schools with less resources — it was the mere separation that created the stigma of inferiority.  In fact, the NAACP in Brown chose Topeka, Kansas because the black segregated schools there were comparatively better than in other places.  California is like Topeka, in the sense that gays comparatively have it “better” here than most states because our domestic partnership law is one of the most comprehensive in the country.

So how would Dr. Meyer’s testimony help — on a legal theory — to overturn Prop 8?  Well, he argued that the mere passage of Prop 8 — taking away the rights of same-sex couples to marry — was a manifestation of the lifelong stigma that LGBT people go through in everyday lives.  The plaintiffs have to prove there is no way to separate Prop 8’s purpose from animus — and what was useful about Dr. Meyer is that he said Prop 8 itself (as opposed to its supporters’ motivations) is the irrational basis.

It’s good to go after the motivations of Prop 8 supporters (see Brian’s excellent post on Dr. Tam), but what I’m worried is the Court may discount that as a few right-wing nutjob who happen to support Prop 8.  Again, it’s not just enough that bigotry was a motivating factor behind Prop 8 — we need to prove that all other factors link to bigotry, that the mere act of it was animus.

Like Brown, this case is going to rely heavily on scientific data and psychology — as opposed to legal theories and precedents that normally guide these cases.  It makes it an unusual case that could be groundbreaking like Brown, but the risk is that it also could be rejected if the Court doesn’t believe the science.  That’s why the defense cross-examination didn’t really push legal theories like they did yesterday — e.g., asking Dr. Peplau if gay people don’t “accidentally have kids.”  What they sought to do today with Dr. Meyer was to impeach his credibility by questioning the whole stigma that gay people go through.  

Homophobia itself is on trial here, which illustrates how much is really at stake here.

10 Comments January 14, 2010

Liveblogging Day 4: Part VI finishing up

By Rick Jacobs

Sorry had some Internet issues, but I’m back online.

We’re back. 3:15.

Boies: We believe we will finish our case on Wednesday, whether we call Ms. Dia today or not.

Judge: Let’s keep moving.

Al Wilson is up for the Defendant interveners to cross-examine Dr. Meyer.

AW puts up expert report by Prof. Herrick says this 1950s is considered a classic study in the analysis of homosexuality in mental health. The study is by Dr. Hooker. The men were recruited from non-clinical settings. Half homosexual and half hetero.

AW: Is not your conclusion at odds with those of Dr. Hooker?

M: Not at all.

AW: Moving PX 1003 into evidence. Look at page 683 of the article (pagination of journal in which it was published). You write, “Despite a long history of interest in studies about gay men…” studies tried to show that homosexual men were not more often mentally ill than heterosexual men. You wrote that and you agree with that?

M: Yes. I wrote the entire article. [MUCH LAUGHTER] (more…)

141 Comments January 14, 2010

Liveblogging Day 4: Part V Dr. Meyer continues

By Rick Jacobs

[Dr. Ilan Meyer, Associate Professor of Clinical Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health is continuing his testimony.]

Why Concealing Who You are because society tells you you must is “a living hell.”

Dusseault (plaintiff’s attorney) reads Paul Katami’s (plaintiff) testimony about having rocks thrown at them in a gay bar.

M: Don’t mean to tell plaintiff it’s not a big deal, but it’s not unique. Laughter. That refers to the registration that I must get used to being gay and treated this way.

M: (Looks at testimony of Stier about forms. Same point.)

2. Expectations of rejection and discrimination.

This occurs in a segment of society in which people who know that they are going to be discriminated against, first they have to guard their safety. A gay couple has to monitor their behavior, such as holding hands, because someone can throw something at them even on a safe street. You have to have a third eye monitoring the environment. It’s stressful. (more…)

259 Comments January 14, 2010

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