Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Perry v. Schwarzenegger: Day One Recap

Yesterday marked the first day of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the lawsuit in which a lesbian couple is suing the state of California over their inability to marry after Prop. 8's passage.

The case is anticipated to be the watershed decision that will more or less set the precedent for gay marriage - it will likely hit the Supreme Court eventually, meaning its decision will have nationwide ramifications. If you want background on it, hop over to protectmarriage.com - they've got a bunch of valuable information, and they'll be updating their site more frequently and in depth than I'll be able to here (I'll do what I can, though). You can also follow them on Twitter at @protectmarriage.

Yesterday began with a victory for the Yes on 8 side: the United States Supreme Court stayed the order of Judge Vaughn Walker that would have allowed for streaming video of the courtroom proceedings. The stay is in effect until tomorrow (Wednesday) at 4 p.m. Eastern / 1 p.m. Pacific, at which time a decision on whether or not to broadcast the trial via YouTube is expected.

Although I'm all for transparency, after seeing the retaliation that hit so many Yes on 8 supporters during and after the campaign, I think televising the proceedings is a horrible idea. Justice won't be blind; people won't be able to be completely honest for fear of what will follow their truthful testimony. I understand how the No on 8 side wants their emotional appeal to pull weight... but, again, justice is supposed to be blind. After all, didn't Aristotle say "The law is reason, free from passion"? The court's role is not to made emotionally based decisions. They are to look at a scenario and decide how it fits into the laws of the land, whether or not it is permissible according to the framework of the Constitution. Granted, with judicial review, court cases have come to supplant the laws of the land via precedents... but that's a post for another day. (Er, rather, one I already wrote...)

Suffice it to say, I really, really can't stand activist judges. I don't care what you think is best - I care that you use your experience in interpreting the Constitution. Ugh. When I was a journalist, believe you me, I had opinions aplenty about the goings-on of the communities I covered, but I had the self-restraint to leave my ideas out and simply report on what the decision-makers had to say because I knew people didn't care what I had to say. It wasn't my job! If only judges (and the mainstream media) could exercise such restraint...

*Stepping off soapbox*

Okay, so, back to Perry v. Schwarzenegger. The Wall Street Journal's law blog had an excellent post recapping the day's events. The trial kicked off with three testimonies from the No on 8 camp - two lesbian women and a gay man - that reflected their legal team's strategy: place the case on par with the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. Their lawyer Ted Olson called marriage a "basic civil right" that Prop. 8 sought to take away.

(No matter that gay marriage was only legal in California because the courts improperly overturned the people's vote from Prop. 22... just sayin'...)

Then the Yes on 8 side got its turn, with the legal team arguing that marriage rights for same-sex couples undermines the "pro-child institution" aspect of marriage, redefining marriage's very nature to be a private relationship between two adults that's based on love. This chips away at the parent-child bond and will likely lead to an upswing in divorce rates.

Not surprisingly, most of the media coverage focuses on the No on 8 side. If you want to hear more on the strategy and perspective of the Yes on 8 legal team, General Counsel Andy Pugno is blogging - click here to read his post from Day One.

This is going to be an interesting ride, my friends. Let's just hope and pray that right will prevail - and even if it doesn't, well, let us at least leave a record of where we stood. I don't care if the Sean Penns of the world think we're on the wrong side of history. It's not their opinion that matters. The family is a critical institution established by God. It's the bedrock of every society - not to mention of the eternities. We must defend it with all we've got, because if it crumbles, so too will our society.


Yours, Sincerely said...

Thank you for the coverage of the trial proceedings. What is at stake is not only the definition of marriage, but the process of democracy. This trial aims to erode the underpinnings of freedom.