Dear Prop 8 Gays & Anti-Gays, Judge Walker Has Some Questions For You Now.

PROP 8:

Judge Walker is ready for you now, gay rights advocates/opponents. On Tuesday he presented a nine-page document full of questions for both sides, which they should answer in their closing arguments next week.

How can marriage between gay or lesbian couples be a fundamental right in a nation that denied all legal protection to their relationships until very recently?

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker put sponsors of Proposition 8 on the spot with another question: In a state that treats domestic partners the same as spouses, “what purpose is served by differentiating – in name only – between same-sex and opposite-sex unions?”

Other insightful questions include What evidence shows that same sex marriage are are “a drastic or far-reaching change to the institution of marriage?” and “Why is legislating based on moral disapproval of homosexuality not tantamount to discrimination?” Obvs to us, all the questions to the gay rights supporters sound a lot more ridic ’cause let’s be honest, they have more of a leg to stand on. And based on the questions, he seems to be really challenging our side with the idea that if voters really did believe they were protecting children and families, they were operating on good faith and not discrimination. (Even though they were obvs wrong.) But overall, I’m glad he did this and pulled apart everyone’s arguments. Maybe it will cut down on the claims that he’s biased because of his sexuality. That would be nice, though unlikely. And while the “how can marriage be a fundamental right” might sound cold to those of us who are waiting on being given our fundamental rights, think about it this way: he could mean “How can you defend the idea that it’s a fundamental right,” OR he could be asking “How can we as a nation move forward into making this a realistic possibility?” Maybe it’s wishful thinking on our part, but the second one sounds like a pretty good thing to be thinking about!

Anyway, GET EXCITED FOR CLOSING ARGUMENTS next Wednesday! It will probs take him another six months to make his decision after that, fair warning. He’s a slow mover, Mr. Walker. We promise we’ll recap/discuss/whatever the arguments next week, and in the meantime, please refresh yourself on our Judgment Daze recaps of the Prop 8 trial itself. Rachel is really funny, you’ll be entertained, I promise.

(PS – in a separate but related story, the Mormon Church agreed to pay a $5,500 fine for failing to report the $37,000 it donated to the Prop 8 campaign. Is that small change? Better than nothing? You decide.) (You should watch “8: The Mormon Proposition” when it comes out to fully understand what we’re talking about w/r/t how that’s nothing compared to how much they gave to the cause.)

MALAWI:

The queer Malawian couple who were recently pardoned by their president have reportedly split up because Steven Monjeza has started seeing another woman. That was quick!

Monjeza, who faced family hostility towards his previous relationship with Chimbalanga, said he no longer wanted to be associated with homosexuality.

“I have had enough,” he said. “I was forced into the whole drama and I regret the whole episode. I want to live a normal life … not a life where I would be watched by everyone, booed and teased.”

Chimbalanga, 20, said Monjeza had found a female lover “to hurt” him. “But I am not worried. You cannot force love, and nobody forced him when we did our symbolic wedding in December.”

He insisted that he did not resent Monjeza’s decision. “I will also marry because there are lots of good men around. I will remain a gay,” he told the Guardian.

I guess the good news is that Tiwonge Chimbalanga didn’t get beaten up after her release like we had feared last week.

The bad news is that most of us here know exactly how this feels — being left by the person you love because they want to live a “normal life.” And the terrible news is that most of us here have absolutely no fucking clue — cannot even FATHOM — how it feels to feel any of the other feelings Tiwonge must be feeling right now with Malawi’s current social climate and the laws against homosexuality there and the spotlight on her. Which is heartbreaking/tragic times infinity. (@guardian)

IOWA:

Yesterday was the Iowa primaries, and we have some good news! Republican voters nominated Terry Brandstad instead of his anti-gay marriage opponent Bob Vander Plaats. (@ap)

DON’T ASK DON’T TELL:

The New York Times reports:

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Tuesday that he thought the military should keep its ban on openly gay service members in part because he did not want to open a national discussion about homosexuality. The chairman, Representative Ike Skelton, a conservative Missouri Democrat, said he thought the debate in Congress over the proposed repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy might force families to explain homosexuality to their children. “What do mommies and daddies say to their 7-year-old child?” Mr. Skelton asked reporters at a news media breakfast.

RACE:

CNN editorial FAIL: Obama risks scaring white folks if he goes Angry Black Man. (@pamshouseblend)

SEXISM:

Why is sexism alive and well at Chicago Tribune?: “The Chicago Tribune thought it was being funny Tuesday when it printed a poster of Blackhawks’ arch-enemy Chris Pronger of the Philadelphia Flyers wearing a dress. Others said it was childish or ridiculous. What it really was, however, was sexist.”

Sarah lives in Chicago with her partner and her big white Great Dane. She is a lawyer by day and a beer brewer/bread baker/knitter by night. She & her partner are currently learning how to grow their own food, and eventually they hope to move to a small farm outside the city. In 2009-2010, before jetting off to law school, Sarah was Autostraddle's Managing Editor.

Sarah has written 131 articles for us.

18 Comments

  1. “…might force families to explain homosexuality to their children. “What do mommies and daddies say to their 7-year-old child?””

    what the fuck? i hate that argument. the explanation is not all that different.

  2. re: the cnn editorial on obama being an angry black man. it’s so exasperating that any time a person who isn’t 100% hegemonic starts talking about discrimination or about change, they’re automatically labeled and an angry [fill in the blank with whatever about them makes them different from straight, white, upper-middle class males.]

  3. Judge Walker’s questions are in a word…no…two words – f*cking excellent. This one is my favorite:
    To Proponents: #11
    Why is legislating based on moral disapproval of homosexuality not tantamount to discrimination? What evidence in the record shows that a belief based in morality cannot also be discriminatory? If that moral point of view is not held and is disputed by a small but significant minority of the community, should not an effort to enact that moral point of view into a state constitution be deemed a violation of equal protection?

    BAM!

    Also, I spent the last couple hours slowly revisting all the Prop 8 trial recaps and they are just AWESOME, Rachel. And hilarious. I can’t wait to read the AS commentary on the closing arguments next week.

  4. First of all, Judge Walker is phenom, imho.

    But I do have a question regarding one of his questions:

    “What are the constitutional consequences if the evidence shows that sexual orientation is immutable for men but not for women? Must gay men and lesbians be treated identically under the Equal Protection Clause?”

    I got confused by this because I have never heard anyone say that male sexuality is always fixed and female sexuality is always fluid. Sure there are trends, and let’s not forget Katy Perry and her faux lesbian army in this equation, but isn’t it kind of dangerous to assume that all lesbians can just flip a switch and be straight if we want to?

    Was this covered somewhere in the trial? Did the anti-gays say something to the extent that we’re all just confused straight women?

    • Lawyers and judges like to consider all possibilities. I think here Judge Walker was just positing a hypothetical situation to better understand the contours of each side’s arguments.

      I don’t think he was suggesting that male sexual orientation is fixed while female sexual orientation is fluid, or that anyone has made this argument. He could have just as easily reversed the positioning of men and women in the question.

      Throughout the arguments, it was taken as a given that gays and lesbians are similarly situated. I think he was simply asking to force each side to grapple with the possibility of the complication that gays and lesbians are not identically situated.

    • The opposition did try to make an argument that women’s sexuality is fluid and that how they identify is more dependent on the environment, but they also tried to make the argument that gay men are promiscuous disease-ridden deviants, so, you know, take from that what you will. I don’t think he’s assuming anything, but I think he is forcing everyone to refute every possible argument.

        • unfortunately, they really did. not well, mind you (they used an outdated study from like 25 years ago to ‘support’ this particular stereotype)) but it still made us all cringe a bit as we imagine the ignorant people leaning on the right side to nod their heads as if this was a valid arguement.

          • Those morons always try to argue that because many of us dated guys before we finally felt comfortable enough to come out, it is some sort of “evidence” of our inherent straight-ness, when, in fact, the only thing it proves is the oppressive heteronormative conditioning of our world. I know I would have been out&proud by 14 and probably never even had to deal with pretending to like guys had I been raised in a different kind of place and time.

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