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Prop. 8 on Trial

Gay Girl Looks at Perry v. Schwarzenegger


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m in the middle of The Twilight Zone, and not in the good, campy way. For the other folks closely following the federal case about Proposition 8—aka Perry v. Schwarzenegger—I’m sure you understand what I’m talking about. It’s been a bizarre few weeks.

Gay Girl/Straight World

First, there was all that hoopla about allowing cameras into the courtroom to broadcast the trial, whether on television or over the Internet. Despite more than 140,000 signatures supporting transparent proceedings, the trial judge, Reagan appointee Vaughn Walker, said cameras would be banned from the courtroom. This isn’t particularly surprising; after all, the Supreme Court doesn’t allow video coverage of its arguments and cameras usually are banned from federal courtrooms. But what was knock-me-over-with-a-feather shocking came in the discussions before the decision, when a lawyer arguing against same-sex marriage claimed the trial shouldn’t be televised to prevent “harassment, economic reprisal, threat, and even physical violence” toward those preparing to testify in support of Prop. 8.

Yes, you read that correctly, and no, I’m not joking.

Those poor supporters of Proposition 8. It must be so difficult to have all of their rights still intact. And it must be even more difficult to know that their relationships will never be put to a popular vote. It must be hard to be part of a majority that can take away civil rights from taxpaying citizens.

I’ve grown accustomed to ridiculous accusations being flung from the right—if two consensual adults of the same sex can get married, who will stop polygamist pedophiles from marrying parakeets?—but claiming victimhood is a new low. Yes, the election was heated, and yes, its aftermath was, too, perhaps even more so. But publicly talking about Proposition 8 doesn’t make you a victim. It just makes you accountable for your vote.

Furthermore, it’s more than a little offensive that the people who systematically discriminate against gay people now are pulling the “fear of physical violence” card. Even if they’ve never personally participated in gay bashing, the reality is that homophobia is bred by the type of discrimination found in Prop. 8 and the campaign launched to pass it. I’d suggest talking to Matthew Shepard or Lawrence King about it, but they were both murdered. Because they were gay.

Shortly after it was announced that the trial would not be televised, Courage Campaign—a grassroots, online organizing group—set up Prop8TrialTracker.com, a minute-by-minute account of the case, and created a symbol to brand the site. Utilizing as a jumping-off point the insignia of a pro-Prop. 8 group, which displays a heterosexual couple and two children, Trial Tracker designed a parody symbol featuring two women and two children.

Logo-gate had Prop. 8ers up in arms: This is copyright infringement, a violation of the 1st Amendment, and just plain rude! Ultimately, a judge ruled that the parody logo should stand, and, for the “not intended results” category, it boosted Trial Tracker’s site traffic astronomically because of all the press the controversy generated.

Much like the to-televise or not-to-televise issue, the outcome here wasn’t what got my attention; it was what arose during the discussions. According to ProtectMarriage.com, the problem with the logo was that the image of the two women was “substantially indistinguishable” from their image of a man and a woman. Exactly.

We’ve been saying for years that there’s no difference between heterosexual and homosexual families, and that love is what makes relationships work. In an ironic twist, it looks like we can all agree on that. Who knew?

As we wait for the next phase of the trial to begin (closing arguments will likely happen at the end of February), I’ve taken odd comfort knowing that I’ve got allies in the form of two McCains: Cindy and Meghan have both posed for photographs for NoH8, a marriage equality campaign formed after Prop. 8 passed. Like I said, welcome to The Twilight Zone.

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