As pre-trial proceedings in the fight to overturn Proposition 8 begin, advocates to uphold and to overturn the ban are taking their cases to the media, in hopes of swaying the court of public opinion.
The case has attracted considerable attention, as the federal court ruling may pave the way for a Supreme Court decision. While much of the focus has surrounded the potential impact of the case, The Washington Post points out that everything from the attorneys to the methods being employed are all potential precedents in progress. One area of interest - the opposite political ideologies of the principal attorneys:
In the San Francisco courtroom, however, the spotlight is not on the gay male or lesbian pair, but on the odd couple representing both: Theodore B. Olson, a conservative Republican, and David Boies, a famed litigator and Democrat. The two are close friends who were on opposite sides in Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court case that decided the 2000 presidential election, but they found common ground pressing for constitutional recognition of same-sex marriage.
While Olson and Boies may have found common ground, supporters of Proposition 8 are giving their all to stop the process cold.
"We don't see it as a civil rights issue," said Austin R. Nimocks, an attorney for the Alliance Defense Fund, which represents the sponsors of Proposition 8. "Marriage is about bringing the two different elements of society — men and women — together in one unit of form that produces and raises the next generation.
What is fascinating about this case in particular is how quickly the commentary becomes patronizing. As an expression of support for Proposition 8, Nimocks shows how stunningly condescending supporters of the ban can be when he says:
"The funny thing about younger people is they tend to get older," Nimocks said. "As we become more wise and more mature, start families of our own and have a wealth of experience under our belts, things change."
And I suppose the funny thing about prejudice is that it does not disappear with the wisdom of age.
Despite initial concerns by gay activists that the case is being pushed to federal court prematurely, an op-ed in the New York Times today reveals just how anxious the opposition is becoming. Edwin Meese III, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, talks about the "disquieting" opposition to proposition 8 and how it all amounts to a judicial bias that will "have the effect of putting the sponsors of Proposition 8, and the people who voted for it, on trial."
Detailing the alleged crimes against Proposition 8 supporters, Meese complains:
Most troubling, Judge Walker has also ruled that the trial will investigate the Proposition 8 sponsors' personal beliefs regarding marriage and sexuality. No doubt, the plaintiffs will aggressively exploit this opportunity to assert that the sponsors exhibited bigotry toward homosexuals, or that religious views motivated the adoption of Proposition 8. They'll argue that prohibiting gay marriage is akin to racial discrimination.
To top it all off, Judge Walker has determined that this case will be the first in the Ninth Circuit to allow cameras in the courtroom, with the proceedings posted on YouTube. This will expose supporters of Proposition 8 who appear in the courtroom to the type of vandalism, harassment and bullying attacks already used by some of those who oppose the proposition.
Thankfully, some of Judge Walker's rulings have been overturned. For example, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the disclosure of internal communications among the core Proposition 8 organizers. But there is no question that virtually every ruling by Judge Walker so far has put advocates of traditional marriage at an increasing disadvantage.
Meese also tips his hat to the stunning disassociation of marriage from legal rights and privileges, saying:
Despite this, during the trial, the supporters of Proposition 8 will work hard to demonstrate that it was rational for voters to conclude that marriage is a unique institution that promotes the interests of child-rearing, and that those interests are broader than the personal special interests of the adults involved. And they'll make the case that voters were very much within their rights, when casting their ballots, to consider their own moral and religious views about marriage - or any other subject.
As the case moves toward trial, expect more public opposition to the idea of gay marriage, conversations revolving around states rights and freedoms, and (of course) more public debate. While the trial proceedings will not be broadcast on YouTube (as per the Supreme Court), I'm sure the trial attorneys have more ideas to keep the case in the spotlight.
Same-sex marriage set for big day in federal court [Washington Post]
Stacking the Deck Against Proposition 8 [New York Times]
Supreme Court blocks broadcast of gay marriage case [Reuters]