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Tag: Letitia Peplau

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 3: Daily Summary

By Julia Rosen

Wow, what a day. Paul Hogarth cranked out eight different liveblog posts and still found time to do some legal analysis during the breaks.

Rick Jacobs will be back at the helm tomorrow, but Paul won’t be going far. We are pleased to announce that Paul is going to stick around and do some more longer form analysis. It is part of our efforts to beef up coverage, now that the trial will not be televised. So expect a few posts a day from Paul, along with Rick’s liveblogging and mine and Robert’s blogging.

And with out further ado, here is the daily summary of Paul’s postings. (more…)

44 Comments January 13, 2010

Day 3 Live-Blogging Wrap-Up

By Paul Hogarth

It’s 4:09 p.m., and the Court has adjourned for the day.  What did we learn this afternoon?  That when faced with overwhelming evidence on the value of marriage, the stability that married couples bring, that same-sex couples are just as capable of loving each other — that the opposition will sink to start scapegoating gay men, bringing out all the worst stereotypes that we’re promiscuous and spread diseases. It doesn’t matter that they cherry-pick studies that are 25 years old, when practically no one was talking about domestic partnerships — let alone gay marriage.  If there was more proof that the motivation behind Prop 8 is animus, the defense proved that once again during their cross-examination.

From a legal standpoint, I found the fact that the defense brought up the fact that gay couples cannot “accidentally” have children is very instructive.  As I mentioned briefly in a prior post, the high Court in New York — unlike California, Connecticut or Iowa — actually upheld the state law that said marriage was between a “man and a woman.”  Because since sexual orientation has not been recognized as a “suspect class” (outside of those 3 states), laws that discriminate against gays and lesbians need only have a “rational basis” to be upheld.  And it need not be the reason why the law was enacted — any rational basis that the Court can literally dream up will do.

In New York, the Court said that because straight people might “accidentally” produce children out of wedlock, that the state had an interest in letting them get married.  Whereas gay people can’t accidentally have children out of wedlock, so there’s “less of a need” to expand marriage rights.  So although that question elicited laughter, it’s clearly the legal angle they’re going for.

Again, it proves how hard it is to repeal a law on the “rational basis” test — because the plaintiffs’ burden is to prove there is no other conceivable reason to uphold Prop 8 besides sheer animus, hatred of homosexuals.  In other words, any other reason that may be justified for Prop 8 — like “tradition,” the “rights of parents” and “protecting children” — need to be linked directly back to animus.  The burden on the plaintiff will be to argue that the “out-of-wedlock” argument is irrational.

Finally, one thing I found very interesting was how much the defense relied on circular reasoning.  Not that I wasn’t surprised — it’s the only thing they have.  One of my FAVORITE moments of Dr. Peplau’s cross-examination was her answer to the question: “do you agree one of the purposes of marriage was to avoid having children born in wedlock.”  Her answer: “Well, by definition — the term ‘wedlock’ means ‘out of marriage.'”  Similarly, gay marriage opponents always argue in Court that gay marriage should not be legal because marriage has always been a “man and woman.”  Of course, it’s been that because they’ve never allowed us to get married.

It was a pleasure doing this today.  Stay tuned for tomorrow, when Rick Jacobs will be back …

146 Comments January 13, 2010

Liveblogging Day 3: Part VIII – Peplau Cross Examination

By Paul Hogarth

[UPDATE] 2:46 Nicole Moss (the defense attorney) is now going to cross-examine Dr. Letitia Peplau.

Moss: Your first opinion — that marriage confers physical and psychological benefits.  You’re talking about straight couples, right?

Peplau: Yes.

M: Because you don’t have data on same-sex couples, right?  There has been no proof, right?

P: Research on straight married couples are relevant — and there have been studies on gay couples.

M: And there’s only been one study on gay couples, right?  And there haven’t been any studies done on the physical and psychological benefits of domestic partnerships, right?

P: There has not been a direct comparison between marriage and civil unions — but we can hypothesize the differences.

M: Civil unions — there’s been relatively no research done on their benefits.

P: The reason there haven’t been many on government statistics on registered domestic partners.

M: Some of the benefits of straight couples — You can’t rank or assess which aspect of marriage has caused the observed increase. (more…)

197 Comments January 13, 2010

Liveblogging Day 3: Part VII – More Letitia Peplau

By Paul Hogarth

[UPDATE] 2:23 PM: Plaintiffs have submitted the American Psychiatric Associations’ policy paper on gay marriage — “In the interest of maintaining and promoting mental health, APA supports gay marriage.”

Attorney: Have there been any studies on the effects of gay marriage on same-sex couples?

Peplau: My belief is based on the large body of research on heterosexual couples.  Based on that, I would predict that same-sex marriage would have a beneficial impact.  I looked at the marriage and divorce rate in Massachusetts — during the 4 years before marriage equality, and the 4 years after.  What’s very clear to me is that there has been no change …

[So excuse me … tell me how marriage equality harms traditional marriage?]

A: What is the effect of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts on same-sex couples [in a survey]?

P: Many say that it makes them feel “more committed” and that their families are now “more approving.”  They say they felt “less worried” about legal problems.  One-third now said that they now have health access to employers which they did not have access to.  25% of the couples in the survey had children — and 95% of them said their children had benefited from the marriage.

A: What’s your opinion on what impact gay marriage will have on the stability of heterosexual marriage?

P: It would have no impact.  By “stability,” we mean two things.  Does it mean fewer straight people will marry (“entry”), and does it mean we will have more divorces (“exit”)?

BEST QUOTE FROM PEPLAU: “I have a hard time believing that a straight couple is going to say, “Gertrude we’ve been together for 30 years.  But now we have to throw in the towel because Adam and Stewart down the street are getting married.”

A: Let’s talk about exposure to marriage.  What percentage of married couples would be same-sex couples?

P: I would say about 2% of all couples would be gay.

32 Comments January 13, 2010

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