The Republican Base Rejects Prop 8 Family Vision, but not Prop 8

Fresh off the Prop 8 trial, I was interested in what Markos’ latest poll–of 2003 Republicans–says about equal rights for gay men and women in this country.

First, the poll shows that Republicans think gays should be allowed or not allowed to do the following things:

Serve in military: Yes, 23%; No, 55%

Receive federal benefits for couples: Yes, 11%; No, 68%

Teach in public schools: Yes, 8%; No, 73%

Marry: Yes, 7%; No, 77%

That is, one in six of those polled are perfectly happy to let gay men and women risk sacrificing their lives for our mutual defense. But they don’t think those servicemen and women should be accorded one of the most basic rights in our society.

As the rest of the poll shows, these people are bigots in a bunch of other ways, as well, so the gay rights questions shouldn’t be that surprising.

But what I find particularly interesting is how that compares to the results that get to–at least partly–heterosexual marriage. As you recall, the central argument of the Prop 8 defendant-intervenors is that marriage is primarily about procreation.

[Defendant-Intervenor lawyer Charles Cooper]: And the purpose of the institution of marriage, the central purpose, is to promote procreation and to channel narrowly procreative sexual activity between men and women into stable enduring unions for the purpose —

THE COURT: Is that the only purpose of marriage?

MR. COOPER: Your Honor, it is the central and, we would submit, defining purpose of marriage. It is the — it is the basis on which and the reason on which marriage as an institution has been universal across societies and cultures throughout history; two, because it is a pro-child societal institution.

In later questioning, Prop 8 lawyer David Thompson asserted some of the following gender-based reasons that marriage had to be heterosexual:

  • “If you look at the Homer Simpsons of the world [with regards to low intelligence], there are a lot more men than women”
  • “wives spend money differently — or, I should say, that women spend money differently than men in terms of as it relates to children”
  • “Fathers’ biological and socially-reinforced masculine qualities predispose them to treat their children differently than do mothers, correct?”
  • “the differences between maternal and paternal behavior are more strongly related to either the parents’ biological gender or sex roles, than to either of their degree of involvement in infant care or their attitudes regarding the desirability of paternal involvement in infant care”
  • “fathers are more concerned than mothers about the adoption of cultural values and traditionally-defined sex roles”

The picture of marriage the Prop 8 proponents rely on (which itself comes from long outdated scholarship as a factual matter) to justify their opposition to marriage equality includes not just on procreation as the necessary and primary goal of marriage. But it also depends on a daddy who instills moral conservatism, a mommy who breast feeds and spends frivolously, and a mommy who helps her children’s dumb daddy negotiate life.

Which is interesting because when Research 2000 polled those same bigots about subjects that would suggest an acceptance of this view of marriage, they found pluralities and majorities opposed:

Are marriages equal partnerships, or are men leaders of the household?

Equal: 76%; Men: 13%

Should contraceptives use be outlawed?

Yes: 31%; No: 56%

Do you believe the birth control pill is abortion?

Yes: 34%; No: 48%

Even among a group that has pretty frightening views otherwise, this group strongly believes in an equal marriage–precisely the kind long-outdated studies relied on by proponents advocated–and the availability of contraception.

If a majority of these people support keeping sex without procreation legal, then why won’t they support the right to marry for those men and women fighting to serve in the military?

A Barren Straight Wife Watches the Prop 8 Trial

I actually don’t know whether I am officially (that is, physically) “barren” or not.

I know, though, that not long after I got married, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My doctors told me right away I’d go through six months of intensive treatment, followed by five years of hormonal treatment. The hormonal treatment, Tamoxifen, was originally developed as a fertility treatment until they discovered it caused birth defects. So between the six months of acute toxins and the five years of birth defect inducing hormonal treatments, my doctors simply assumed that that would take me to the age of 40 at which point I would be too old to have kids. And while mr. emptywheel and I considered, for maybe a second, going through the very dangerous (because it involved high levels of hormones) process of saving eggs, and while we could have insisted I stop the hormonal treatment after two years, we ultimately decided that we could be perfectly happy being an aunt and uncle.

And, having made the decision to remain childless, my husband and I promptly plunged deep into discovering what “in sickness and in health” really meant.

Going through that kind of challenge taught me a lot about marriage. There was the adjustment, for both of us, of me losing all my hair (except, unfairly, that on my calves, though mr. emptywheel removed that for me with duct tape). There was the quiet companionship, the two of us together at home–with me usually asleep by 8–a big break from the athletic team-focused social life we had shared since we met. There was the legal nightmare when mr. emptywheel almost lost his visa and work privileges, and with them the health benefits paying for my care. And there was the quiet relief at the end of treatment, the two of us staring up at the southern sky together from a hut in a fishing village in Brazil.

I may be barren, but I think any couple that makes it through such life-changing events together gets full claim to the title of marriage.

But, as Audrey Bilger points out, the Prop 8 proponents envision not just denying that title–marriage–to same sex couples. They would deny that title to a lot of straight couples, too, couples just like mr. emptywheel and me, who remain childless. And they would go further in imposing their gender roles on all of us, with stupid husbands (really, they did make a point of saying men were less intelligent than women!) whose job it is to keep their daughters chaste and women defined primarily by their breast feeding and–later–cooking.

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Clarence Thomas Speaks–to Engage in Anti-Gay Fearmongering

Adam Bonin notes this curious, short opinion in the larger Citizens United decision endorsing the idea that ballot supports should not have to reveal their identities.

I dissent from Part IV of the Court’s opinion, however, because the Court’s constitutional analysis does not go far enough. The disclosure, disclaimer, and reporting requirements in BCRA §§201 and 311 are also unconstitutional….

Amici’s examples relate principally to Proposition 8, a state ballot proposition that California voters narrowly passed in the 2008 general election. … Any donor who gave more than $100 to any committee supporting or opposing Proposition 8 was required to disclose his full name, street address, occupation, employer’s name (or business name, if self-employed), and the total amount of his contributions. 1 See Cal. Govt. Code Ann. §84211(f) (West 2005). The California Secretary of State was then required to post this information on the Internet.

Some opponents of Proposition 8 compiled this information and created Web sites with maps showing the locations of homes or businesses of Proposition 8 supporters. Many supporters (or their customers) suffered property damage, or threats of physical violence or death, as a result. …

Now more than ever, §§201 and 311 will chill protected speech because—as California voters can attest—”the advent of the Internet” enables “prompt disclosure of expenditures,” which “provide[s]” political opponents “with the information needed” to intimidate and retaliate against their foes.  Thus, “disclosure permits citizens … to react to the speech of [their political opponents] in a proper”—or undeniably  improper  —”way” long before a plaintiff could prevail on an as-applied challenge.

I cannot endorse a view of the First Amendment that subjects citizens of this Nation to death threats, ruined careers, damaged or defaced property, or pre-emptive and threatening warning letters as the price for engaging in “core political speech, the ‘primary object of First Amendment protection.’ “

As it happens, as we speak, the Prop 8 plaintiffs have pretty much debunked the claims that Prop 8 supporters are getting harassed at greater rates than Prop 8 opponents. Here’s expert witness Gary Segura calling into doubt whether a Heritage report making such a claim really constitutes proof of the claim.

S: I’m concerned making that leap. Most recent act took place after the election. Also, we’d want to weigh those incidents against the converse. We have testimony from Mayor Sanders about his house being vandalized. The Heritage Foundation report makes no effort to gauge violence and vandalism in the opposite direction. We know that there were over 100 acts of violence against gays and lesbians in 2007. We know that gays and lesbians are more likely to be targeted for violence than any other group. We’d want to consider all of that.


B: Heritage foundation backgrounder. Describe the Heritage Foundation.

S: An extremely conservative think tank.

B: Do you know the author of that backgrounder?

S: I Googled him.

B: Is he an expert in political science.

S: I was not familiar with his name. Didn’t know him.

B: You sit on a lot of editorial boards for political science journals. Does that backgrounder meet the standards to qualify for a peer-reviewed journal?

S: No. It wouldn’t even be submitted for review.

B: Why?

S: We’d want to look for evidence-gathering techniques. Accuracy of the sample of the acts that took place. Selecting on the dependent variable – only studying instances where the case occurred. You only have the presence of the phenomena, not the absence. Can’t study war and only look at war and not peace, and describe what leads to war.

B: Do you think those news reports reached enough viewers to swing the Prop 8 election?

S: It’s implausible.

B: The Heritage Foundation document did not have any information about violence or vandalism against Prop 8 opponents.

S: No.

Perhaps that’s why Clarence Thomas wrote such a lonely opinion, not shared by any of his conservative colleagues. Because the claims that anti-gay haters are being disproportionately harassed just don’t stand up to scrutiny.

Outside the Courtroom: "Sassy Parody" and Cindy McCain Against Hate

Picture 180Two updates on the Prop 8 fight happening outside the courtroom. First, Protect Marriage has just sued the Courage Campaign for what it says is trademark infringement. At issue is the logo (on the left) Courage Campaign is using for its trial tracker–depicting two women and their children–which is a clear parody of the logo ProtectMarriage uses (to the right), depicting a mommy and daddy and two kids.

Picture 181As Courage Campaign points out, to argue that the logo is indistinguishable (and therefore a trademark violation) ProtectMarriage has resorted to saying their hetero family logo is itself indistinguishable from the logo featuring a family parented by two lesbians.

We continue to be entertained by the Prop 8 attorneys simultaneously admitting that the two images of gay parents and straight parents are “substantially indistinguishable,” and yet failing to grasp that that the difference between the logos illuminates the core difference between their views and ours.

Well, I guess if ProtectMarriage is willing to concede that point…

Cindy NoH8In other news, Cindy McCain has signed up for the No H8 campaign, adding yet another prominent Republican voice to the growing list that opposes the discrimination of Prop 8 (this picture is from via HuffPo).

Finally, go watch the depositions of two Defendant-Intervenors’ witnesses, Paul Nathanson and Katherine Young (here’s DDay liveblogging the introduction of these depositions this morning). Not only will you get to see David Boies at work, but you’ll see the Defendants-Intervenors’ own expert witnesses (though these are two of the witnesses who have backed out of testifying) making a great case for marriage equality.

Prop 8 Trial: A Tale of Two Lawyers

As I’ve been processing the three days I spent at the Prop 8 Trial last week, there’s been a lot to think about: how much I learned about gay experience, both historically and psychologically; how odd a role I had as an observer (the journalists present appeared to be largely split between “objective” journalists and gays and lesbians; but as a “barren” straight married woman, the Prop 8 proponents were effectively making an attack on my non-procreative marriage along with their attack on the humanity of the gay men and lesbians around me); and the dynamics of the court room.

But the most salient observation on the trial, for me, is a reflection on two of the lawyers arguing the case: for the Defendant-Intervenors, David Thompson, and for the Plaintiffs, Matthew McGill. Both appear to be highly accomplished lawyers and their schooling (Harvard; Harvard in Thompson’s case, Dartmouth; Stanford in McGill’s case) suggests both are highly intelligent. Which is why the difference in their questioning (one, two, three) of Professor Michael Lamb was so striking to me.

Matthew McGill

After establishing Lamb’s credentials in childhood development and, through Lamb, establishing the many different kinds of studies that support the consensus that lesbians and gay men make as good parents as straight women and men, McGill organized his questioning around the pamphlet 21 Reasons Why Gender Matters, basically having Lamb pick apart the attacks that pamphlet makes on gay and lesbians–particularly its treatment of the bogus “gender disorientation pathology”–calling them things like “very old canards.”

McGill also had Lamb carefully explain how his own thoughts evolved from when–early in his career–he believed fathers as such were important to healthy child adaptation, only to discover with more research that it is not so much the father, but a lot of the factors (like adequate material resources) that father absence might entail.

Through this all, McGill wasted neither time (something sure to ingratiate him to Vaughn Walker, who clearly likes to keep a timely court room) nor any emotions and/or body motions on his delivery. He was the most in-control lawyer of any I saw last week (acknowledging that I missed Ted Olson, Boies did nothing yet, and Theodore Boutrous’ role was limited to housekeeping).

David Thompson

For those who followed along the Libby trial, Thompson’s manner reminded me of Bill Jeffress’–his bullying manner, his use of mock indignation, alternating with calm politeness. However, as you’ll see, Thompson had none of the incisive exposure of detail that Jeffress had, and as a result the bullying comes off as farce, not believable outrage.

Thompson started his cross-examination of Lamb in the same way the D-I’s started with most plaintiff witnesses, by trying to pin him as an advocate. Though it got rather ridiculous when Thompson painted Lamb’s donations to the ACLU, NOW, NAACP, Amnesty International, the Nature Conservancy, and–shockers!–PBS as proof that Lamb was a “committed liberal.”

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Liveblogging the Prop 8 Trial: Day Five Friday PM(20)

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Walker: You have a scheduling matter that came up.

Boutrous: Withdrawal of expert witness. They withdrew expert witnesses bc of concerns about cameras. Not one time did they suggest that the withdraw of the witnesses bc of cameras. Withdrew after SCOTUS decision, we predicted they would withdraw them bc of cross-examination.

Thompson: Respond for completeness of record. Advise that witnesses had a significant concern about cameras. Plaintiffs exacerbated our concerns when they asked the recording continue.

Walker: Let me ask a couple of questions. Dr. Lamb. You said that there’s not a basis for absence of genetic relationship having a problem. Was that your testimony. Purely layperson’s question. Why is it common that adopted children seek out biological parents.

Lamb: Many know they’re adopted. Something important about origins. Wouldn’t be viewed as maladjustment.

Walker: No relationship to anti-social behavior.

Lamb: That’s what research said.

Walker: No reason to protect children form lesbians and gays. What about priestly abuse. How do you square your statements about that phenomenon.

Lamb: Data about sexual abuse shows that individuals who have same sex orientation are no more likely to abuse children. Doesn’t mean they don’t. Not familiar of all the details of abuses conducted within religious orders. Many cases in Ireland involve heterosexual abuse by religious individuals. Abuse involves both hetero and homosexual abuse. I don’t want to convey fact that homosexual people never abuse children, simply that they’re not any more likely.

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Liveblogging the Prop 8 Trial: Day Five Friday AM (18)

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I think they’re going to argue about some sealed documents this morning, then have testimony from Michael Lamb on gay and lesbian parenting.

Walker had a closed session of about 25 minutes to begin the morning. Perhaps they discussed the sealed documents there.

Matthew McGill for the plaintiffs.

Michael Lamb: Head of social psychology at Cambridge. Head of social development at NIH in DC.

Lamb: Investigation of sex crimes involving children. Factors that affect children’s development adjustment. Those aspects that allow them to function well in their environment. One sign of maladjustment is involvement in delinquent behavior. Later, perform effectively as member of socity, forming intimate relationsihp.

McGill: Body of scholarship on children parented by gay men and lesbians.

Lamb: Has been researched since late 70s and 80s. Over a hundred peer reviewed articles. Many other reports in other fora. Very good understanding of factors affecting adjustment of children raised by gay men and lesbians.

McGill: Have you provided peer review for some of those articles?

Lamb: Yes I have.

McGill: Other writings on child development.

Lamb: In total about 500 articles, not all of them on development, some on interviewing. Published in peer reviewed journals or chapters. Serve on editorial boards .

McGill: how often provide peer review.

Lamb: Approx two a week.

McGill: Over course of career, how many?

Lamb: 2500-3000.

McGill: Any honors recently. Award for lifetime contributions for assc psych science.

McGill: Expert in field of developmental psych of children, developmental psych of children raised by gay and lesbian parents.

Lamb: Two broad opinions. Children raised by G&L parents, just as likely to be well-adjusted. For a significant number adjustment promoted were their parents able to get married.

McGill: Consensus of factors that most affect child development.

[witness has black hair, a beard, expressive eyebrows. He has cufflinks]

[These three items put up as display]

Lamb: Three things that affect adjustment. Quality of child’s relationship with parents. Relationships between indivs raising child. Availability of adequate economic and social resources.

McGill: What makes a good parent.

Lamb: Focuses attention on child. Effective at reading signals of child, understanding what child needs, providing appropriate guidance and stimulation, setting appropriate limits.

McGill: Same criteria that apply to mothers and fathers.

Lamb: Substantial body of evidence that what makes effective parent is the same for mother and father.

McGill: Quote from Cooper’s opening statement.

We know statistics children who grow up without a father 5X more likely to grow u p in poverty, 9X more likely to drop out of schools, and 20X more likely to end up in prison.

Lamb: While it talks about people being 5, 9, 20 times more likely to have outcome. Doesn’t say in comparison to what. Presumably comparison between children being raised by 2 hetero parents, and those growing up with single hetero mother. Stats probably not drawn from studies focused on children raised by same sex couples. Citation of statistics, doesn’t address distinction between correlation and causality. Implies absence of father that causes adverse outcomes. Actually research, quite voluminous, shows absence of fathre not crucial factor. Factors are the ones you showed, separation deprived of that person’s involvement in their lives, significant degrees of conflict, significant degrees of economic deprivate. Those are the factors that explain why you might have some of these differences. Important for a researcher to ask why, rather than to note the numbers. Final thing missing is that it doesn’t acknowledge fact that notwithstanding these differences, majority of children growing up w/o father are perfectly well-adjusted.

McGill: Did you ever believe needed father?

Lamb: When I began career, assumption was needed father. Read more

Liveblogging Prop 8 Trial: Day Four, Thursday PM One (Sixteen)

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Dr. Ilan Meyer sworn in.

Dusseault asking about educational background.

Meyer: BA Columbia U, Psych, MA, New School, Columbia U, psychiatric epidemiology. Study of mental disorders, causes of mental disorders. Risks for mental disorders. Very much like infectious disorders. PhD, Columbia U. 1993. Department Sociomedical Sciences, department brings together people from various social sciences to study public health problems. Doctoral dissertation, prejudice and pride, minority stress and health in gay men. Associate Prof at Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia. Co-Chair steering committee for school of public health. Chair, MPH, curriculum committee. I probably have some other committees that I am on. First appointment in 1994, full time in 1996.

Dusseault: Work you’ve done over 20 years.

Meyer: Social epidemiology. Relationship between social factors and health patterns. Mental health outcomes.

Walker: Area of study is area of social factors and mental health outcomes.

Meyer: Most directly lesbian, gay, bisexual populations, african-americans, asthma, HIV, homosexuals and mental health. Many presentations, most in CV. Over 40 listed there. Funding, currently Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Investigator, NIH, NLM, NYS Department of Health. Awards, most recently for distinguished scientific contribution APA. Reviewed manuscripts and guest editor. American Journal of Public Health on lesbian and gay and transgender public health. Successful issue, first issue to sell out. Edited, or co-edited another journal. Special issue Social Science and Medicine, with two colleagues, prejudice and stigma and their impact on public health. Edit book on LGBT public health issues. Both peer reviewed and editorial articles. 44 peer reviewed articles on CV, maybe 12 other types, commentaries and so forth. 3 courses, research methodology, how to conduct surveys. Two seminars, one is called prejudice, stigma, and discrimination as social stressors, gay and lesbian issues in public health.

[Dusseault and Cooper put together list of all exhibits, Walker says, “thank you for facilitating that.”]

Dusseault: Is it true that each document document you’ve relied on to formulate opinion in this case. Deposition testimony. Do you intend to offer any opinions in this litigation.

Meyer: Work I’ve been doing. 3 elements. 1) Nature of stigma on G&L populations wr to Prop 8 as example of stigma. 2) Describe model of minority stress. Model I am accredited with offering. Will describe social stressors affect G&L pops. 3) Effects of those stressors on mental health.

Dusseault: On what do you base.

Meyer: Study of last 20 years. Opinion is based on many research articles. Some I’ve conducted, many more conducted in field over many years.

Dusseault: Define stigma.

Meyer: Have to be brief. Group in society has some kind of attribute seen as negative, this attribute is attached to persons believed to have it, because of having this attribute, devalued. In example of sexual orientation, identified as negative attribute, G&L people as a whole, identified by that identity, whole person is devalued. Stigma has been applied to many other pops.

Dusseault: What is structural stigma?

Meyer: Origins of stigma. Mechanisms that enact stigma. More solid structures in society. Institutions. The law, and any other institution central in our society.

Dusseault: Explain more the way that laws can be structural stigma.

Meyer: Laws may foster or block access to particular institutions. Of course here we’re talking about marriage. Of course the law has a role in who can access this institution.

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Liveblogging Prop 8 Trial: Day Four, Thursday AM Two (Fifteen)

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Continuing the cross-examination of Edwin Egan, Chief Economist for SF, who is testifying on the revenues associated with same sex marriage for the city.

Patterson: Revenues for out of state same sex couples.

Egan: 2008 report, there was no data for how long people stayed in SF. For this report, it’s not legal, so I had to make an assumption.

Patterson: SF gained $2.7M of annual revenue increases. You have no considered any costs SF would incur.

Egan: Costs are reimbursed by license fees, so that is not a net cost.

Patterson: Additional staffing.

Egan: Fees pay for the staff.

Patterson: you have determined that fees would pay for any additional staff.

Egan: I haven’t done any additional study, but that’s the point of those fees.

Patterson: You said report was to determine costs.

Egan: No, that’s not correct, it was to determine whether any additional staffing, not to adjust size of fe.

Patterson: so if it did not cover costs, you would raise the fee.

Egan: The city sets the fees to assume cost recovery. The way this is accounted for is each clerk can handle so many during the day. It’s not at all clear that the fees would need to change.

Patterson: Costs of printing additional marriage licenses.

Egan: that’s also covered by fees.

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Liveblogging Prop 8 Trial: Day Four, Thursday AM One (Fourteen)

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Edwin Egan first witness. Chief Economist of SF.

Egan: Economic development strategy for Toronto, SF. Adjunct Prof at Berkeley, city and regional planning. Regional economic development. Three peer reviewed articles.

Egan: Board of Supervisors, my office reviews that legislation to determine if material economic impact. What is intent of those reports on economic impact of legislation. To make sure Board understands economic impact. Look for a real regulatory power, that it affects behavior of indivs and businesses in the city. How the legislation would constrain their behavior and try to quantify that. If we believe legislation would have more than $10 M impact we report on that.

Counsel: What kinds of sources?

Egan: Economic impact reports.

Egan: Reliant on govt’s statistical data, data generated by city departments to make quantitative estimates. Information provided by people who work in city. We rely on other people’s data particularly when it deals with similar impacts.

Counsel: Expert in urban and regional economic policy.

Counsel: Have you undertaken economic analysis on prohibition of gay marriage on SF. Is that anlaysis you undertook similar or different from kind of work you do as Chief Economist?

Egan: We don’t normally review state legislation, we normally deal with local reg.

Counsel: Did you look at positive and negative impacts. Did you reach conclusions.

Egan: Identified several ways in which prohibition of same sex marriage would have negative impact and affect budgeted revenues.

Counsel: Could it be generalized to other jurisdictions?

Egan: I believe they could, but I haven’t done that.

Counsel: Prohibition on same sex marriage, wealth generation, and budget of SF.

Egan: If same sex marriage legal, increase in sales tax and property tax revenue.

Counsel: Legalizing same sex couples and revenues.

Egan: Increase in number of married couples in SF. Impact of marital status on wealth over life of indiv. Married indivs accumulate more wealth. To extent more married people, greater wealth accumulation. Two main impacts, higher wealth, higher incomes, higher consumer goods spending. Would tend to increase value of real estate in SF, as you’d have more people bidding on land. Higher consumer spending would lead to higher consumer spending. Greater real estate values would lead to higher taxes.

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