Thursday, January 21, 2010

Prop 8 Trial Coverage Day 7: Video of Witness Depositions

CORRECTION: Numerous blogs yesterday, including UTF, reported that the following quote came from an LDS document submitted as evidence:
With respect to Prop. 8 campaign, key talking points will come from campaign, but cautious, strategic, not to take the lead so as to provide plausible deniability or respectable distance so as not to show that church is directly involved.
In actuality, court transcripts (PDF pgs 1628-1637) indicate that the above quote was plaintiff witness Professor Gary Seguara's characterization of the document, but he was not quoting the text itself.
Q. As a political scientist, what is it about this document and these statements that is relevant to analyzing the balance of political power between gay men and lesbians and religious organizations to the extent they're involved in political activities in California?

A. Well, with respect to the Proposition 8 campaign, it makes it clear that there was a sort of two-way flow of information, where strategic talking points were being provided to religious leaders by the campaign. And, in turn, the religious leaders were providing volunteers to the campaign. But there was this cautious strategic not-to-take-the-lead notion so as to provide a -- I don't know, plausible deniability or respectable distance between the church organization per se and the actual campaign.
The actual document that Segura read and referred to stated:
"He has also been hired by the coalition to do polling work for Prop 8. The main California grass roots leaders are in the process of being called as, quote, area directors, end quote, with the responsibility for areas that generally correspond to each of the 17 LDS coordinating councils for the LDS mission boundaries. Thereafter, priesthood leaders will call local prop coordinators over each stake and leaders by zip code within each ward - potentially working not only with LDS, but also LDS volunteers."
UPDATE 1/20/09 8:25PM : Articles for Day 7.

Prop 8 Trial Tracker: "An Explosive Afternoon: LDS Church":
This is perhaps the most explosive bit of all, from a document between the LDS Church and the campaign:
With respect to Prop. 8 campaign, key talking points will come from campaign, but cautious, strategic, not to take the lead so as to provide plausible deniability or respectable distance so as not to show that church is directly involved.
Get that? The LDS Church intentionally worked to hide behind the scenes to disguise their involvement in the public realm. The LDS Church is well aware that the general public does not have the most favorable opinion of them. Attention on their involvement could have hurt their cause, namely passing Prop 8.
Also from Prop 8 Trial Tracker: "Your Right Hand is My Left Hand: The LDS Church and the Prop 8 Campaign":

For about half an hour, Boutrous and Pugno were arguing about the admissibility, and then the names of people, in a document from a Mr. Jansson The interesting part of this is just how these two organizations became two sides of the same coin for about six months in 2008.

Going over all these documents, we learned that over 20,000 Mormons were out door-knocking on the final few weekends. We learned that Mr. Jansson was playing a dual role, both as a leader within the Mormon hierarchy as well as in the executive board. We learned that Mormon/LDS Church leaders were powerful in the structure throughout the campaign. Of course, that was no real surprise.

More great reporting on Courage Campaign (CC)'s Prop 8 Trial Tracker. (Oh, and check this out: Prop 8 people trying to sue them over CC's parody of logo. CC won the first round, but it isn't over.)

Check out Prop 8 Trial Tracker Day 7 summary, and Mercury News also has a full roundup of day 7 live blogging.


Original post 1/20/10 at 12:25pm PST

Unfortunately, guest blogger Davina Kotulski has to work today so will not be able to cover day 7 of the Prop 8 trial. I also have to work today (which is why I'm delayed in posting), but I will try my best to round up today's coverage. Check back to this post for further updates.

American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) Summarizes Day 6

AFER, the group behind the challenge to Prop 8, released this summary of day 6 of the Prop 8 trial which was Tuesday, December 19.
The court has so far been presented with compelling testimony from gay men and lesbians about the discrimination they have experienced first-hand, in addition to eminent experts from Yale, Cambridge, Harvard, UCLA and other prestigious institutions who have testified to the harm caused by Prop. 8 and the lack of a justification for its denial of fundamental rights, creating a powerful, fact-based record of evidence pointing to the unconstitutionality of Prop. 8.

Testifying today under the direct examination of City Attorney Dennis Herrera was Jerry Sanders, the current Republican Mayor and former Police Chief of the City of San Diego. He spoke about his decision, as Mayor, to support the City of San Diego’s participation in an amicus brief advocating against the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and why he concluded supporting marriage equality was and is in the best interest of local government and the larger community (powerful video of that announcement can be found here:

"If government tolerates discrimination against anyone it is very easy for citizens to do the same thing," Sanders testified in court.

"I had been prejudiced,” Sanders testified in reference to his previous opposition to marriage equality. “I was saying one group of people did not deserve the same respect, did not deserve the same symbolism of marriage, and I was saying their marriages were less important than those of heterosexuals."

“I think denying marriage equality is just as wrong as telling blacks that they couldn’t use white-only drinking fountains. It’s government action that’s founded in prejudice,” Sanders said to reporters at the courthouse. “The first step towards equality in society is equality under the law.”

Testifying after Sanders was M.V. Lee Badgett, Ph.D., a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who spoke about the harm caused by Prop. 8.

"Prop. 8 has inflicted substantial economic harm on same-sex couples and their children who live here in California,” Badgett testified. “I have the opinion that letting same-sex couples marry would not have any adverse effect on the institution of marriage or on different sex couples.”

After testifying, Mayor Jerry Sanders and his lesbian daughter Lisa spoke to reporters. Journalist Rex Wockner has coverage of the press conference on his website.

Witnesses for Day 7, January 29

From AFER:

- Ryan Kendall, a gay man who will testify about the “conversation therapy” he underwent in his youth and how he has been affected by discrimination

-Gary M. Segura, Ph.D,Professor of American Politics in the Department of Political Science at Stanford University. He will testify about the relative political power of gays and lesbians as a class of citizens, and their level of political vulnerability.

Video of Witness Depositions

Again, the amazing AFER comes through. I'll just quote them directly. Again.
The Olson/Boies legal team today introduced into evidence videos of the depositions of Paul Nathanson, Ph.D. and Katherine Young, Ph.D., who are among the experts dropped by the defendants from their witness list. In the videos, Nathanson and Young make several statements that are harmful to the defendants' case and that support the plaintiffs' position.

Both are professors at McGill University. They were questioned by David Boies.

AFER provided video of the depositions. Here they are below. First, Katherine Young, Ph.D.

Paul Nathanson, Ph.D.

Nathanson and Young both state that equal marriage would increase family stability, improve the lives of children, and that gay men and lesbians have faced a long history of discrimination including violence. They also acknowledge broad scientific and professional consensus in favor of equal marriage.

The backers of Prop. 8 told the court this week that they were dropping four witnesses from their witness list, leaving only two. They claimed this was due to a reluctance to testify because of cameras in the courtroom. The trial, however, is not being broadcast. We have now seen three depositions of the withdrawn experts, which would form the basis for their cross-examinations, that resulted in the experts making admissions that disagreed with the backers of Prop. 8's case, which is what actually led to the last-minute witness list reduction.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys last week introduced video of the deposition of Loren Marks of Louisiana State University, who had been expected to testify for the defendants that the ideal family structure is for children to be raised by two married "biological" parents, which Marks said meant the genetic parents.

Marks admitted that he only read parts of the studies he relied upon in making his conclusion. It was then pointed out that those studies actually defined "biological" parents in a way that included adoptive parents -- not just genetic parents. Marks then stated that the word "biological" should be deleted from the report he prepared for this case, and also admitted he considered no research on gay and lesbian parents, effectively revealing his research as fatally flawed.

Live Blogging

Live blogging of the trial can be found at Courage Campaign's Prop 8 Trial Tracker. (One a side note: Prop 8 proponents are suing Courage Campaign for Prop 8 parody logo they're using for their site. Interesting development. Read about it here.)

You can find more blogging at Fire Dog Lake and Mercury News.

For a great Twitter list of Prop 8 trial tweets, check out No Back Seats' list.

I will post more today's hearing later tonight. Be sure to check back!

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