Day Three of the Prop 8 Gay Marriage Trial: Let’s Get Offensive

Well, it’s super official now that we are never gonna see this stuff on YouTube. Maybe someone could just put together a bunch of stills of Chauncey, the lawyer guys and etc., to the tune of “I Was Married” and throw it up on YouTube so that if I google “Shane & Carmen” “Prop 8 Trial” I’ll end up stuck in someone’s masturbatory opus to an event I was hoping to see ACTED OUT not IN PICTURES that’s why I am on YouTube duh. Oh where was I, YES THE TRIAL!

Firstly, Dustin Lance Black, who wrote that movie MILK, has some feelings at the Huffington Post, where he says that We Cannot Wait.

Also per ushe, big up to Prop 8 Trial Tracker, who are keeping track of this shit so we can keep track of this shit. And also to bobster1985 from flickr, ’cause sometimes we steal queer vintage photos from his incredible, incredible, super-fantastic collection.

Last Time on “Judgment Daze”: On January 12th, the h8ers got demolished by Nancy Cott and her historical wisdom, who gave the run-down on the herstory of marriage and how the point is not to make babies, Sarah Palin, and how marriage has a history of racism. Yalie genius Chauncey took the stand to look at how Prop 8 is part of a historical trend demonizing gays & lesbians. We took a moment to reflect on Anita Bryant. We felt overall hopeful at the end.

DAY THREE: January 13th, 2010

PART ONE –  In Which the H8er Tries to Prove That Everyone Went Crazy Five Years Ago, Homos Are Just a Fad Like Slap Bracelets, Except Different ‘Cause Everyone Loves Us Now, We’re Fine Or Something.

So the questioning of Mr. Chauncey, history professor extraordinaire, resumed first thing in the morning. The h8ers began by trying to show that public opinion about gay people has changed rapidly since 2004, which means I guess that Prop 8 is now borne out of love for homos instead of documented intolerance of them?

They also tried to establish that gay people are SO HIP RIGHT NOW in pop culture, etc. I mean, you saw Queer Eye, right?  Who needs rights when you have Shane?

As Paul Hogarth, our fearless liveblog leader of the day, puts it: “Based on the line of questioning, they’re clearly trying to show how “radical” treating same-sex couples equally [is]— that it’s a recent phenomenon.  It’s a bit surreal listening to it, because anyone must ask — why is quick change towards acceptance bad thing?” Or an excuse to delay rights? PUMP THE BRAKES. Thompson then asks Chauncey about changing public perceptions at Yale, where he works.

Chauncey: “I would hardly call Yale a bellwether of public opinion in the United States.”
Thompson: “Thank heavens.”

I think Thompson is saying that ’cause of all the liberalism over there at Yale. Just recently I went there and saw a play about Andy Warhol and Valerie Solanis and there was a lot of drugs, homosexuals, tight pants and etc. Very bad for children, and New Haven may seem safe but DON’T WALK ALONE AT NIGHT.

Also, current contender for Why Are They Allowed To Ask That This Shit Is Crazy award of the day: “It is true that Americans believe that homosexuals are more likely to get AIDS than heterosexuals, correct?”

Ok ok ok now shit gets real. As quoted directly from Hogarth’s liveblog: “Now Thompson is getting absurd.  He is asking Chauncey a whole line of questioning about how many religious groups and churches support marriage equality, that they are evolving. “ Also, Thompson tries to prove this by showing a video clip of Rick Warren. Um, what. Thompson is trying to collapse the whole really fantastic line of reasoning and relevant history that Chauncey put together yesterday – basically, he is trying to prove that life is not really that hard for queermos, and that we are getting our boyshorts all in a twist about this “discrimination” thing.

Good luck with that one, friend.

Then we start talking about how few homophobic pieces of legislation California has in relation to other states, and don’t a lot of people move to California because they want to be in a less hostile place, and did you know that a lot of California’s best friends are gay? Defo no anti-gay animus here. Does anyone else feel like this is turning into one of those completely absurd episodes of CSI where you can say whatever you want in the courtroom? “CSI Brown, did you find that your GAMBLING PROBLEM interfered with your ability to take these blood samples properly?” No, ok I’ll stop now.

Oh so Exhibit C: What It’s Like in California:

We also talk about civil unions for a while, and Thompson points out the radical queer groups that reject marriage as an institution altogether – trying to prove that there are reasons to oppose gay marriage besides homophobia. This should be a moot point b/c even if these people don’t think marriage is what our community is fighting for, we highly doubt they would vote Yes on DOMA. It’s just an insane line of reasoning.

Mostly this part is really uncomfortable because it kind of feels like airing all our community’s quarrels and divisions in front of Maggie Gallagher while she sits there and takes notes – these are delicate subjects that mean a lot to a lot of people, and it’s frustrating to watch some lawyer who doesn’t understand any of them talk about them so glibly. But Chauncey handles it really well! “The right to marry evolved and became a more widespread and deeply held goal of the gay and lesbian community.” In other news, Thompson is still being an asshole.

Part Two: In Which the h8ers Wanna Be Victims

Thompson wants to tell everyone about how all of his cronies got beat up for supporting Prop 8. In lieu of a big fiesta where all us gay people can share all of our photos from all the times we’ve gotten beat up for supporting our own right to exist or spend time outdoors around other humans, the Judge gives a Hell-to-the-NO on that one. Because really who has time for that kind of slide show. Although I would like if perhaps we could take a Laramie Project lunch break. No? Okay.

h8er: Isn’t it true that some hostility to the LGBT community comes from these attacks on Yes on 8 supporters?
Chauncey: It seems unlikely on the face of it.  You would have to bring a compelling case to me. [translation: ARE YOU F*CKING KIDDING ME?]

Part Three: Enter The Mormons

We get to watch a nice movie about Mormons who were horrified that their children were learning about gay people in the schools instead of learning about all the fun stuff Joseph Smith wrote in his book, like that dark skin is a curse from G-d, American Indians are a lost tribe of Israel, the Garden of Eden is in Missouri, G-d lives on a star called Kolab, caffeine is evil, Mormon underwear protects you from Satan, and that Christianity is American. Here’s a look at the PSA under consideration:

h8er: Shouldn’t parents who disapprove of gay marriage request that their kids not have to learn it?
Chauncey: Well — what about if parents disapprove of blacks and whites being together? Should parents be able to prevent their kids from reading about that in public schools? Gay marriage is a fact of life in Massachusetts. If parents have a problem with that, they can send their kids to private school.

THAT’S RIGHT, you tell ’em Chauncey. We couldn’t see this ourselves, but are told that Thompson looked visibly uncomfortable at this point, and WE BELIEVE IT.

Now the ball is back in our court so we are just gonna knock off a few slam dunks real quick here.

Stewart: Does Prop 8 say anything about when sex ed takes place? What parents can teach their kids? What parents can object to in what’s in the schools?
Chauncey: Yes.
Stewart: Are there fairy tales (childrens books) of men and women falling in love?
Chauncey: Yes, of course.
Stewart: Are heterosexual weddings considered an “adult issue” that children are not exposed to?
Chauncey: No, children are present and even play a role in heterosexual marriages.

Next, the dream team of Stewart and Chauncey give a really solid 10-minute intro to Gay History 101, they could teach a seminar on this, freshmen would love it.

Cliff’s Notes: The first historical evidence of recognizing homosexuality (in the West, I guess?) was in Puritan New England, and y’all know some of those feminist activists in the 1860s were fingerblasting. We talk about the priorities of the early gay rights movement in the 60s and 70s – mostly stopping police raids, fundamental protections against discrimination, and the right to come out without compromising your safety. Getting the medical establishment to stop describing us as sick and deranged, etc.

Also, to bring it all back together, we’re not letting the race comparison go – Stewart has Chauncey confirm that there were black civil rights activists who opposed desegregation (like Malcolm X) to debunk the notion that just because some queers don’t view marriage as a priority doesn’t mean it’s not ethically necessary or morally right. A lot of important stuff established in just a few questions! Go team!

Part 4: The Media is the Message

Ok, remember when we watched Yes on 8 TV spots yesterday to prove that they are part of a longstanding and established tradition of anti-gay stereotypes and sentiment? Today that gets a little more interesting. Stewart wants to talk about Mr. Tam, an official proponent of Proposition 8, and examine the information about it that he disseminated publicly as an example. You may remember that Mr. Tam was supposed to come to court to support this sh*t, but decided not to b/c he said he was gonna get beat up. That’s good, now he can understand how gay teenagers all across the country are afraid to be honest with their parents or go to school.

Thompson objects very strenuously to this, but since apparently he made Chauncey answer questions about Carrie Prejean earlier, it’s allowed? That’s cool. So anyways, Chauncey reads to us from a flyer of Mr. Tam’s which “talks about the right to marry leading to prostitution and having sex with children.  And gay marriage is a product of San Francisco government run by homosexuals. ”

Other fun facts from Mr. Tam:
“Part of the gay agenda is legalizing sex with children.”
The education curriculum in Alameda County will “brainwash” children into supporting gay marriage.
“Every child will grow up thinking they can marry John or Jane.”
“Children would benefit the most” if Prop 8 passes, because the children would then have “both sexes” as parents, and kids adopted by gay couples (which will happen if Prop 8 fails) do not have “two genders” as parents.”

So, aside from being hilarious/horrifying, there’s something really important happening here.  In keeping with the central point of this case, that Prop 8 passed purely out of anti-gay “animus,” Stewart is proving that a) Yes on 8 intentionally circulated media material that promoted and perpetuated this “animus,” and b) that none of it is true.

After establishing everything above, she asks Chauncey if, “based on your knowledge of history, has there been a gay agenda?” He says that it’s only been used as a term to fuel anti-gay measures.

Next, she has him talk about the intentional erasure of gay history – which is terrible in and of itself, but also ensures that there’s a big empty space that crazy people can fill with lies like this. It’s a really big deal that these things are actually being said in court! Remember watching the Yes on 8 ads, and after you were done bleeding from the eyes, asking yourself why someone couldn’t take them to court for blatantly making sh*t up? Well, someone just did. No one can guarantee it will work, but they are doing a great f*cking job trying to prove that circulating hateful misinformation about gays for your own political ends is morally, ethically, and legally wrong – or at the very least, that they make for unsound laws. It’s about time.

Part 5: IN WHICH OUR RELATIONSHIPS ARE VALIDATED

Now we are going to bring out a new person, she’s a lady named Letishia Pelplau; a social psychologist from UCLA who’s done research work on same-sex couples since the 1970’s. That’s a long time, I bet she knew all the Angels in America.

Letishia Peplau says she is an expert on four issues:  (a) marriage brings important benefits, (b) relationships between same-sex and heterosexual couples are similar, (c) gay couples who can marry have the same benefits, (d) gay marriage will not harm heterosexual marriage. BAM.

[UPDATE] 1:57 PM: The US Supreme Court just ruled — no cameras. It was a 5-4 decision. www.scotusblog.com. Sorry!

Anyways, back to Peplau: she’s talking about marriage as a social institution, and talks about how the statistics say it benefits those people who get to participate in it. And then she brings out the studies comparing gay relationships to straight ones guess what y’all, they’re pretty similar! “Yes, there’s a stereotype is that same-sex relationships are inferior and less stable.  But there’s no foundation for it.”

She says that a position paper adopted by the American Psychological Association confirms that “satisfaction, stability and commitment is relatively the same between gay and straight.” Oh! Now Stewart asks her about the commonly held belief that gay relationships don’t last as long, and Peplau says that while there’s no evidence that it’s true, if it was, it could be due to the fact that we’re denied the stabilizing effect of marriage. Swish! Nothing but net, girl!

She also confirms that there’s been no change in divorce rates in Massachusetts since gay marriage passed, and notes that couples there “say they [feel] “less worried” about legal problems.” YEAH I GUESS MAYBE THAT MIGHT BE TRUE.

Also, contender for Most Satisfying Quote of The Day, courtesy of Peplau: “I have a hard time believing that a straight couple is going to say, “Gertrude, we’ve been together for 30 years.  But now we have to throw in the towel because Adam and Stewart down the street are getting married.”


PART SIX: Peplau cross-examination

And now it gets really frustrating! The very first thing is the cross-examining attorney getting all uppity and asking if it’s true that most of the studies Peplau quotes have been based on straight marriage and not large sample sizes of gay marriages. MAYBE IF YOU F*CKING LEGALIZED IT, YOU HEARTLESS WITCH, we could do a study!!!! Seriously, was that actually just a mean joke? Asking why we can’t find thousands of gay married couples to survey? Also, it only gets worse from here! Get ready!

“Let’s talk about gay men … Would you agree that the practice of monogamy in gay male relationships is different than in heterosexual relationships?”

Yes. Yes. This is really where we’re going with this. This is really what someone’s law degree is going towards. Trying to get someone to admit in a court of law that gay men are all sashaying sluts in fake leather pants who just want to do cocaine and bang each other til the sun comes up. Okay then, let’s do this.

Cross-examining attorney quotes a 25-year-old study that says “sexual exclusivity” may be “more the exception than the rule” in gay male relationships.  That sexual affairs can be a “complement” to a steady relationships.” This was probably conducted by someone who got burned by Brian Kinney and anyhow listen, lady, I bet 25 years ago sexual exclusivity was more the exception than the rule for you too, who knows what you were like in college.

The h8er pressures Peplau to admit it’s “a fact that less gay men believe that monogamy is important,” and then tries to get her to calculate the number of gay couples in Belgium in her head, which is dumb and confusing.  Mostly this is all just horribly offensive, not just to gay men (although it definitely, definitely is offensive to them) but also to anyone with a brain.

The defense attorney isn’t really even trying to prove anything, she’s just taking an opportunity to repeat out loud stereotypes about gay men as AIDS-ridden whores so that everyone in the courtroom has that in their head instead of, you know, love. Or marriage. Or human rights. [An official statement from our fearless leader and CEO of Ideas Riese: “I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING.”]

But hey, you know what? Cross-examination can’t last forever. And it’s not all bad, because we got THIS:

Peplau: “There’s no doubt that civil unions have been beneficial to same-sex couples. But they are not equivalent to marriage. And if you’re not allowed to be in the most highly regarded institution in the country, civil unions are not going to be the same. We all know the impact that stigma and second-class has on people, and on relationships. It seems to me that being prevented by the government from being married — is similar to other stigmas we have seen.”

Also, THIS:

M: We know that 40% of the respondents in the survey said they got married because of “society’s visibility” of gay relationships.
P: Well, they were asked to pick a whole series of choices (and could do more than one.)  93% chose “love.”

PART SEVEN: The Sun Sets on H8

“It’s 4:09 p.m., and the Court has adjourned for the day.  What did we learn this afternoon?  That when faced with overwhelming evidence on the value of marriage, the stability that married couples bring, that same-sex couples are just as capable of loving each other — that the opposition will sink to start scapegoating gay men, bringing out all the worst stereotypes that we’re promiscuous and spread diseases. It doesn’t matter that they cherry-pick studies that are 25 years old, when practically no one was talking about domestic partnerships — let alone gay marriage.  If there was more proof that the motivation behind Prop 8 is animus, the defense proved that once again during their cross-examination.”
Day 3 Live-Blogging Wrap-Up

Join us and Rick Jacobs tomorrow for more! Clearly Chauncey is a rock star and Peplau is our BFF 4 lyfe! We love you, and wouldn’t want to be doing this with anyone else!

Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1080 articles for us.

41 Comments

  1. “Shouldn’t parents who disapprove of gay marriage request that their kids not have to learn it?” That is some of the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard. I disapprove of all books except the bible, therefore I don’t think my children should read anything else. That’s just promoting ignorance, which already seems abundant in our society.

  2. “Remember watching the Yes on 8 ads, and after you were done bleeding from the eyes, asking yourself why someone couldn’t take them to court for blatantly making shit up? Well, someone just did. No one can guarantee it will work, but they are doing a great f*cking job trying to prove that circulating hateful misinformation about gays for your own political ends is morally, ethically, and legally wrong – or at the very least, that they make for unsound laws. It’s about time.”

    YES. THAT. Also “93% chose love” made me feel much better about everything (not sure what the other 7% are doing though).

    • these are my same feelings! i am increasingly suspicious that the prop 8 trial is not real and is actually a made-for-TV movie about gay marriage, which would explain why so much crazy shit is being said in court but also why such incredibly inspiring and beautiful things are being said by the witnesses. i don’t know who their screenwriter is, but s/he’s fantastic.

  3. Pingback: Day Three of the Prop 8 Gay Marriage Trial: Let's Get Offensive | marriageproblems

  4. I really am appreciative of the updating and very upset about the banning of the recording. I would like to suggest that cursing in the script is really not necessary and this all would make are more journalistic impact without a lot of the satire. This court case is about us as a community and a whole and it kind of feeds into the stereotype. I do appreciate your time and effort though and I am sending love and support from Colorado!

    • Hi Kelly, thanks for the input — you’re right about the cursing. We often forget to censor ourselves because we swear like sailors in real life.

      We’re basically trying to present the information in a way that makes it enjoyable and entertaining and conversational to read for people who might not be interested in a more straightforward journalistic style. Like the illustrated classics version of jane eyre! There’s plenty of more straightforward recaps on the web so we feel if we’re going to add to the chorus of voices, we should take a different angle. And when we’re joking around all the time, we think it makes the parts where we do get serious even MORE serious and able to make an impact.

      Love from New York to you too!

    • I read the live blog at pro8trailtracker.com daily. Then I come over to Autostraddle to read the re-cap. I love love love your sarcasm and cursing commentary. Mostly because a)it is the same thing I am thinking and b)eventhough this is us fighting for our equality, it’s damn funny,

  5. I Was Married always gives me chills.

    “New Haven may seem safe but DON’T WALK ALONE AT NIGHT.
    Oh, and now Hell is stuck i my head. This is going to be one of those days where I see Tegan and Sara materialize in front of me when they are actually obvs not in front of me at all, but I got the crazies, so I reach out and try to touch them anyway. Fail.

    Next thing you know, Thompson will claim that him and his goons were victims of hate crimes, since we you know, beat all their asses and whatnot. And their case will hold up, even though it’s like super hard to get a hate crime ruling in a gay bashing.

    THE H8TERS HAVE NO CASE.
    This is just beyond frustrating.

  6. i find myself following this avidly even though (because?) i have heard zero coverage of the trial here in australia. seriously though, logic always beats non-logical bullshit hands down, right? come on. i’m astounded that it got to this point where commonsense needs to outlined point by point in a court of law, and yet i’m hopeful this will set an example all over the world!

  7. OMG these graphics are amazing! Tyra and Ms. J nearly brought me to tears I’m laughing so hard- not how I expected reading this to end! THANKS!

    And if homophobes can demand their kids not learn about gay marriage, I’m going to demand that my kids (the potential ones that is) not learn about the Republican party. I’m morally opposed to much of their actions these days.

    • Omg, so true. Gay marriage is totally a part of society and if we’re gonna get down to the nitty gritty and be selective of what our children are learning in school, in no way do I want my future children to be learning about the Rep. Party! Thank you, you (and your comment) are amazing!

  8. Pingback: Lez-BeHonest Press » Transgender Lesbian Film , Kanye spotted at GAY concert and more!

  9. My straight roommate is sitting next to me and just added, “God. Your team just needs to hold up a picture of Britney Spears. Your rebuttal? We rest our case.”
    ftw.

  10. Dear Autostraddle,
    this semester I am taking a social problems course, which I am totally stoked about! My amazing professor has assigned a research paper/presentation panel discussion on a social problem of our choice. Mine? Gay marriage v. the H8ers. May I please use you as a source? It would be amazing!!!

    with love,
    Shanay

  11. Will you marry me autostraddle?

    Since we want to recruit toddlers to the gay, and take away heterosexuals rights, can we also throw in marrying websites? Please?

    I love you.

    Y/N

  12. IF my comments are posted, I’ll be surprised. I don’t see ONE dissenting opinion on this post. I am appalled by the language. If you all want to bring some credibility to your case, you really ought to cut all the swearing. I believe in equal rights, but I also believe that one should be able to debate the point at an intellectual level. This swearing and name calling is ridiculous and is really beneath you.

    Now for some facts about the Mormons. First, a church can teach whatever it wants as long as it is within the confines of the law. If something is outside the stated law – like teaching homosexuality in public schools – people have a right to their opinion on this without being defamed. Also, the church teaches their doctrine in their church, not in public schools. Regarding the article, “… like that dark skin is a curse from G-d, American Indians are a lost tribe of Israel, the Garden of Eden is in Missouri, G-d lives on a star called Kolab, caffeine is evil, Mormon underwear protects you from Satan, and that Christianity is American.” The Book of Mormon does teach that dark skin is a curse. But then so does the bible. I think more modern thinking has disuaded that belief. American Indians are a lost tribe of Israel – but then so is most of the world. You make it sound like that is a ridiculous statement. Give me a break! The LDS church does not teach that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri, nor does it teach that God likes on Kolob (at least spell it right!). Garments are symbolic of faith and it is practicing faith that protects you from Satan. Finally the church does NOT teach that Christianity is American.

    When I read stuff like this – most of which is made up and not factual in the least bit – it does nothing to serve your cause. In fact, it destroys the credibility of your article and in the end, your cause.

    I for one am on the fence on this issue, but I am still waiting for someone to provide a fact based, unemotional analysis of the case; and one that does not resort to sensational name calling and lies. I am an open minded intellectual, so come at me with your facts.

    • Hi Pete,
      I appreciate that you are on the fence on the issue and am genuinely pleased that you are using the internet to look further into things. To this end, I hope you will visit http://www.prop8trialtracker.com/ It is run by the Courage Campaign (http://www.couragecampaign.org/) whose mission is to change people’s minds on the issue. The Human Rights Campaign (www.hrc.org) is also a great resource.
      I don’t know a lot about Mormonism and therefore won’t reply specifically to any of your statements on what is or is not taught, but I do agree that in regards to aspects of the faith that don’t deal with homosexuality we should try to be more tolerant ourselves.
      But I think one thing to consider in your displeasure with this article is that you are not the intended audience. There are great blogs and resources such as those I mentioned above whose purpose is outreach on these issues and still others who are meant to be objective news sources.
      This post, however, is targeted more (if I may be so bold as to assume Autostraddle’s intention) at those of us who are LGBT or are allies with an interest in “girl-on-girl culture”. The article is both informative and entertaining. The attitude, sarcasm, cursing are all part of the entertainment and the article links to further resources for more facts for those who are interested in being more informed. Those of us who are decided and indeed have a vested interest in the issue can really use a good laugh to help calm our nerves as we watch our rights and in a way our lives go on trial. Poking fun at a faith might not be the best way to do so, but certainly I don’t mind name-calling those who are standing in court and trying to call me a second class citizen.
      I hope you find the facts you are looking for and thank you, sincerely, for your interest.

    • I think Rachel said everything I would want to say.

      But I do want to add that ‘teaching homosexuality’ is an offensive phrase. “Admitting homosexuals exist” in public schools is what we’re really talking about here. Do biology teachers teach students how to be bumblebees? Do math teachers teach students how to be triangles? If a kid who lives in New York City learns about life on a farm, are we teaching him to be a farmer? In my public school I learned the history of Islam and Christianity, but I managed to remain Jewish. Education is about expanding our view of the world, unbiased, so students can decide where they fit into it.

      The fact that you don’t want to be “defamed” for bigotry is unacceptable. That’s one of the reasons why this trial matters to us so much, as we discuss in Day 4 — as long as the country has discrimination in our constitution, it’s possible that completely good-hearted intelligent people like yourself, Pete, won’t realize how hurtful it is that you actually think it’s okay to ask us to respect your complete disrespect of us.

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