Roundup: The Closing Arguments of Prop 8 Trial

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Roundup: The Closing Arguments of Prop 8 Trial

Rachel Larris

While California puts gay marriage on trial, and possibly on camera, one state senator in Maryland tries use his state's gay-marriage friendliness as a factor for companies to move there.

Those trial watchers who were following California’s trial of Prop 8, otherwise known as the “gay marriage trial,” got a peek at what the closing arguments might sound like when the trial resumes. On Friday the two sides filed extensive briefs.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

“Californians voted for Proposition 8 because they thought it would strengthen the institution of marriage (and) … because they thought it would benefit children,” sponsors of Prop. 8 said Friday night in papers filed in federal court in San Francisco.

Their opponents, representing two same-sex couples and the city of San Francisco, said those purported goals of Prop. 8 were contradicted by overwhelming evidence at a 12-day trial in January that allowing same-sex couples to wed would benefit their children and the institution of marriage. Regardless of the intentions of individual voters, they argued, the Prop. 8 campaign was designed to appeal to fear and deep-seated prejudice.

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“The evidence demonstrates that Proposition 8’s actual motivation was moral disapproval of gay and lesbian individuals,” said the measure’s opponents, plaintiffs in the federal court case. They said the ballot measure “sends a message to gay and lesbian individuals that they are not welcome in California.”

However the Chronicle noted that briefs reflect the “imbalance of evidence” presented during the trial by the defenders of Prop 8.

Protect Marriage withdrew four of its six scheduled witnesses at the start of the trial – saying they feared television coverage, which the Supreme Court had blocked – and presented two witnesses, political science Professor Kenneth Miller and the president of the Institute for American Values, David Blankenhorn.

The Prop. 8 sponsors cited research works, but no witness testimony, for one of their central assertions Friday: that “extending marriage to same-sex couples would result in a profound change to the definition, structure, and public meaning of marriage.” Their opponents urged Walker to disregard such assertions, saying they contradict most academic studies and were never tested in court.

Citing Miller’s testimony, Prop. 8’s backers said gays and lesbians have strong political allies, particularly in California, and “have achieved the power they need to effectively pursue their goals through democratic institutions” without judicial intervention.

They cited Blankenhorn and the writings of conservative scholars for the conclusion that marriage is universally defined by “maleness and femaleness” and that one of its central purposes is “the encouragement of procreation under specific conditions” – a purpose best served, they argued, by limiting marriage to a man and a woman.

Despite the initial ban on cameras during the first phase of the trial, cameras may be allowed during the closing arguments. According to the San Francisco Chronicle:

Despite a rebuff from the U.S. Supreme Court, the Bay Area’s federal judges are again proposing to allow cameras in their courtrooms, a plan that could lead to telecasting of closing arguments in a suit challenging California’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The U.S. District Court in San Francisco has posted a rule change on its Web site that would allow its judges to take part in a pilot program of airing selected nonjury civil trials.

The proposal is the same one Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker adopted in January after a week of overwhelmingly favorable public comment.

In Other News: While Maryland’s Attorney General’s move for the state to recognize gay marriages performed out-of-state is hotly debated, one state senator is trying to use it to lure defense contractor Northrop Grumman to Maryland for their new corporate headquarters. His reason: Virginia is not as gay-friendly as Maryland, a factor Northup Grumman should respect. The Washington Post reports:

In a letter sent Thursday to the company’s CEO, Maryland State Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery) argued his state’s stand on gay rights better mirrors the company’s own longstanding commitment to gay and lesbian employees.

“Here in Maryland, we value our gay and lesbian citizens as part of a diverse population that makes the state strong,” Madaleno wrote. “Virginia is doing the opposite and letting its LGBT citizens — and those considering whether to move and work there — know that they and their families are unwelcome second-class citizens. And they are counting on corporations like yours not to care.”

The Los Angeles-based company is currently deciding between Virginia, Maryland and the District as a new home for its 300 top executives, running an unusually public contest among the three.

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Topics and Tags:

gay marriage, prop 8