Gay marriage Prop 8 live-blog: A must-read historic page-scroller

Fire Dog Lake blogger Teddy Partridge has been doggedly live blogging the California Proposition 8 gay-marriage trial in San Francisco– the trial to determine the constitutionality of the anti-gay mariage ballot initiative that the Mormon Church and Colorado Springs evangelical group Focus on the Family poured money into to help pass in 2008. Only one short post from Partridge this morning but he posted nine entries over the last two days– running transcripts of the courtroom exchanges and smart very brief commentary. It is historic courtroom dialog transcribed fast and rough, technical in spots and lengthy. If you’re like me, though, you’ll find it almost impossible to stop reading. Law and Order writers, you know, are just ripping this stuff as it appears to turn into TV drama!

Here’s how Partridge opened the blog Monday:

prop 8

Good morning –

I am in the John Burton courthouse, ceremonial courtroom, on the 19th floor, in the overflow room awaiting the start of the federal trial challenging California’s Prop 8 which stripped same-sex couples of their marriage equality.

I just saw a banner at MSNBC that SCOTUS had denied Judge Walker’s plan to televise the trial. We’re told by the very helpful court personnel here (thanks, bmaz, your introductions went a long way this morning!) that the closed-circuit signal within this courthouse will be permitted, and they are attempting to find out what the story is about the remote federal courthouses around the country, as well as the planned upload of trial segments to YouTube.

I’m in the front row here, with a great view of the screen, which is split in three parts: Judge Walker, the witness stand, and counsel table. Counsel apparently just realized that the microphones are live, and got the AV folks to turn off the mike while they kibbitz, as lawyers do nervously, before trial.

Here’s where I dipped in on Day Two and got hooked:

B: talk about Social security materal advantage to married people?

C: The marital relationship was privileged in Social Security, but a high-earning wife wasn’t allowed to have her low-esrning husband claim spouse beneefits: it was gender specific until challenged in the 1970s. the state’s role iin assigning benefits to marriage holds up the prestige marriage has in our culture. It is the state’s imprimatur that gives it additional cultural significance.

B: Will giving same sex couples the right to marry enforce the american values of family and child reatring?

C: Yes, because it’s clear same sex couples will form unions, households, we want them legitimized by the state, it makes us and tehm more secure and stable.

B: Thompson asked you about Tab 31, page 213, full graf about revivial of polyghamy. In that sentence were you endorsing polygamy?

Absultely not.

B: Were you saying it was becomng legal?

C: No, I pointed out it was still illegal, still frfowned on by the Mormon CHurch. But I was pointing tht many states don’t prosecute private behavior in marriage anymore. Mamy statee have adultery laws, but don’t prosecute it. Polygamy is an egregious ewxample of the state not prosecuting marriage.

B; Woul trhere be a slippery slope from legalizing gay marriage to polygamy?

C: NO, because monogamy has a political component. The analogy of teh new American Republic to marriage actually explicitly uses polygamy to represnet despotism — and through the long campaign aghiansdt polygamy it was analogized to depsotism, for what woman could or would consent to marry a man who had a wife already?

B: Please talk about the laws restricting marriage in American.

C: These were called hygenic or eugenic laws. Feeble-mindedness. While in the antibellum south, first cousin marriages allowed families preserved wealth adn were highlt valued, then statres decided it was unwise. Age, etc.

B: Would same-sex marriage challenge theseother restrictions?

C: NO I don’t think so.

B: Would same sex marriage threaten population growth?

C: I don’t think so.

B: Has there been a distinction between civil marriage and religious marriage in America?

C: Yes, and ours is a multi-religious society.

B: Do you believe in marriage as a valuable institution?

C: YEs I do

B: Will samesex marriage benefit the institution of marriage?

C: Yes, it would be beneficial, their sturggle to attain same sex marriage has helped society to understand the benefits and advantages conveyed by marriage.

No further quesitons, please be sure exhibits are entered.

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About the Author

John Tomasic

Writer, editor, teacher, web wrangler. He has worked for art, business, culture, politics publications, five universities and a UN war crimes commission. @johntomasic | 720-432-2128 |

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