Thursday, January 21, 2010

Religion Bashing Proceeds Apace at Prop. 8 Trial - Updated

A federal trial heard by a single, unelected judge seeking to overturn the judgment of 7 million California voters is now in its second week. The voters supported Proposition 8 which simply defined again that marriage is between a man and a woman. Plaintiffs seek to establish that the voters’ only possible motivation was prejudice against homosexuals and thereby strike-down Prop. 8 on the basis of equal protection. See this excellent report at National Catholic Register for background on the case. As the trial progresses, it appears more and more that the possession of religious belief itself is in the dock.

The following report on court proceedings this week was sent out by Bill May who is chairman of Catholics for the Common Good in San Francisco (not to be confused with a similarly named organization in DC) UPDATED BELOW this report:

Trial Drags on Tediously
Religion Bashing Increases
Keep Prayers Coming

The second week of the trial about traditional marriage and those that support it recommenced on Tuesday, January 19, with more emotional testimony and issue advocacy that would be more proper to a legislative hearing or to a campaign than to a law trial. Alliance Defense Fund lawyer, Austin R. Nimocks provided perspective reminding us that, “ jurors are regularly instructed [by judges] to dismiss and put aside emotional appeals. Cases are decided on the facts and the evidence, not on how someone feels about this or that.” The question is, will Judge Vaughn Walker be influenced by these appeals. The outcome of a decision made by 7 million California voters depends on one judge, appointed for life.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders took the stand to discuss how he came to reverse his position on same-sex "marriage." In emotional and at times tearful testimony he described his close relationship with his daughter who announced that she was a lesbian and subsequently “married” another woman in a ceremony in Vermont. He acknowledged that he had harbored prejudice against gays in the past and now feels that anyone who opposes same-sex “marriage” for whatever reason, must be prejudiced. It was obvious that he had been coached and was extremely intent on advocating what became apparent on cross examination as an unreasonable position.

The next witness for the plaintiffs was Lee Badgett, research director of the Williams Institute at UCLA and same-sex marriage advocate. He testified that same-sex “marriage” in the Netherlands has had no impact on marriage between a man and a woman. Through long and tedious cross examination by lead defense counsel, Charles Cooper, Badgett acknowledged indisputable facts that out of wedlock births and the number of single parents have increased dramatically since same-sex “marriage” was legalized there.

Catholic Doctrine on Trail Again

On Wednesday, Day 7, the focus on religion of supporters of Prop 8 increasingly took center stage with a fair amount of Catholic bashing. It will be interesting to see where the plaintiffs' counsel goes with this as the trial progresses.

Remember, supporters of Prop 8 are on trial as being haters and bigots in an effort to overturn their vote to preserve traditional marriage. If the court were to accept the arguments presented in this testimony, I agree with the point Andy Pugno made that it would be like saying that people could not consider their religious beliefs when voting on any moral issue.

The day began by bringing a man from Colorado to the stand who was bitter about an experience with “homosexual conversion therapy.” It was hard to imagine why this man was there and what his testimony had to do with Prop 8. This seemed to be part of the plaintiffs' effort to demonstrate that homosexuality is an immutable trait like sex or race, and it provided another opportunity for more religion bashing. Plaintiffs' counsel Davie Boise used the witness to bring up what was portrayed as “faith-based” discrimination against women and blacks, and actually tried to link violence against gays to doctrine of the Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention.

The next witness, Gary Segura, a Stanford University political science professor was called to provide support for the plaintiffs contention that homosexuals need special protection and argued that they are politically powerless, giving defeats on initiatives and legislation as examples. The logic throughout his testimony was so transparently flawed. The subject of religious discrimination came up again and as General Counsel Andy Pugno summed it up, “according to his logic, gays and lesbians must be given special legal protection by the U.S. Constitution against religion itself.”

When the day ended, Segura was still on the stand. More cross examination will follow when the trial continues on Thursday. I continue to be very impressed with the preparation and the skill of the attorneys representing supporters of Prop 8. They are methodically building a strong record if needed for appeal.

I will not report on Thursday and Friday until the end of the weekend. We are preparing for the a major marriage advocate Leadership Summit in San Francisco for the valiant team of CCG County Co-Chairs from all over California. More than seventy are expected at the summit.

Please pray for the summit and these leaders. They are building a campaign to restore a marriage culture in California called Stand with Children. The same-sex “marriage” issue is merely a symptom of what the plaintiffs describe in court as the “evolution” of marriage. The word should really be “devolution” because indoctrination redefining marriage, the family, and human sexuality is influencing children and is touching just about every family. Our children are being taught that marriage is nothing but a committed relationship for the benefit of adults and that it is incidental to children and family.

We continue to be overwhelmed by the expressions of prayer and fasting for the trial. This is a spiritual battle and we are all reminded and buoyed by the communion we share through Our Lord, Jesus Christ as we stand in solidarity with the common interest that every child has in the marriage of his or her mother and father.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, please pray for the Prop 8 supporters who may be called and attacked as witnesses to the truth about marriage as part of God's plan for creation.

For the Common Good,
Bill May
Chairman, Catholics for the Common Good

UPDATE - Catholic League president Bill Donohue also weighed in today on the proceedings this week in San Francisco:

The voters in 30 states who have taken up the issue of gay marriage have voted 30-0 to affirm marriage as a union between a man and a woman; Proposition 8 did exactly that in California. Attorneys David Boies and Theodore B. Olsen, however, are contesting this issue in court.

Yesterday, the judge allowed Boies and Olsen to submit e-mails they obtained between the director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the bishops. Allowing such communication in a trial is unusual enough, but the purpose was even more invidious: to show that Catholics played a major role in passing Proposition 8. The lawyers did the same thing to Mormons, offering more e-mail “proof” of their involvement.

Now some will reply that it should not matter what the adherents of any religion say about public policy issues. After all, the First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Unfortunately, this misses the point the lawyers want to make.

Their goal is not to contest the First Amendment rights of Catholics and others—their goal is to put religion on trial. What they are saying is that religious-based reasons for rejecting gay marriage are irrational, and thus do not meet the test of promoting a legitimate state interest. That is why they have trotted out professors like Gary Segura of Stanford and George Chauncey of Yale to testify to the irrationality of the pro-Proposition 8 side. Chauncey was even given the opportunity to read from a Vatican document that rejects homosexual marriage.

Society cannot exist without families; families cannot exist without reproduction; reproduction cannot exist without a sexual union between a man and a woman; and every society in the history of the world has created an institution called marriage to provide for this end. In short, it is nothing but irrational to challenge such a timeless verity. No matter, what is going on in the courtroom smacks of an animus against religion.