Sunday, January 24, 2010

Prop 8 Trial Coverage: Day 9 Summary and Day 10 Preview; Closing Arguments Delayed

From the American Foundation for Equal Rights:
Taking the stand Friday, Jan. 22 was Gregory M. Herek, Ph.D. a Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Davis. He testified about the nature of sexual orientation; that mainstream mental health professionals and behavioral scientists do not regard homosexuality as an illness or disorder, and that "change therapies" have been scientifically discounted, and can be extremely harmful. He endured more than five hours of cross examination without wavering from his testimony.

Herek testified that sexual orientation was not readily changeable, and that “change therapies are especially harmful because they present view that homosexuality is an illness or disorder, so when therapy doesn't work, individuals are led to think it's a personal and moral failure."

He also testified about the stigma and prejudice that gay men and lesbians face; the harm to gay men and lesbians and their families caused by Prop. 8; and how domestic partnerships are inferior to marriage and are linked with the stigma gay men and lesbians face.

A "social stigma" gave "a level of permission to attack" gays and lesbians, Herek said. "[Marriage] is not simply a word. Just the fact we're here today suggests this is more than a word."

Olson and Boies also showed Dr. Herek the deposition testimony of defendants' expert Daniel Robinson, one of the four expert witnesses dropped from their witness list. Robinson, like the three other experts dropped from their list, made statements damaging to the defendants' case and in support of the plaintiffs during his deposition, as was shown in court this week.

For, example, the defendants' experts stated that equal marriage would increase family stability and improve the lives of children; that sexual orientation is not something that can be readily changed; and that gay men and lesbians have faced a long history of discrimination including violence – discrimination that continues today and that includes Prop. 8. They also acknowledge broad scientific and professional consensus in favor of equal marriage.
Plaintiffs are expected to submit some more evidence and then rest their case on Monday. Defendants will follow with their own witnesses.

On Friday, Judge Walker announced that he will delay closing arguments for several weeks, indicating he will be closely examining submitted evidence and that he will have more questions during the closing. Arguments are expected to be scheduled in late February, early March.


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