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01/27/2010

Between his lines we can all read Andy Pugno's fear

by Jeremy Hooper

One of the most humorous aspects of the Prop 8 trial has been the way that the anti-gay side's general counsel, Andy Pugno, has tried so hard to act as if the pro-equality legal team is firing blanks all over the place in that San Francisco court room. Humorous, because regardless of where you stand Pugnoon Prop 8 and marriage equality in general, the vast consensus among people who've been paying attention is that while Olson/Boies have been nothing if not able, the anti-gay side's "expert witnesses" have FAILED all over the place.

There are the ones who were withdrawn because their depos so fully helped our side. There was Dr. Tam, the onetime defense witness who became a hostile witness for the plaintiffs, due to his thoroughly nutty views on homosexuality's supposed relation to things like prostitution or pedophilia. And then there was Professor Kenneth Miller, who essentially admitted that gay people are being discriminated against in several areas of law.

But throughout all of those missteps, Pugno has spun, spun, spun, hoping to convince his followers that the Olson/Boies team hasn't been able to smack their asses with a law book, and that the pro-Prop 8 folks are Teflon. Something he continued yesterday:

Once again, religion was on trial this morning as a lawyer for the challengers to Prop 8 cross-examined political scientist Kenneth Miller. In their desperate attempt to make something of their case stick, the anti-Prop 8 lawyer spent extraordinary time – four hours, in fact – trying to get the witness to concede that the margin of victory for Prop 8 in the November 2008 election was driven solely by “religious” voters. But Dr. Miller’s testimony provided an impenetrable roadblock, establishing that—while religious views were certainly one of many factors that informed some voters’ support for Prop 8—no exit poll or voter study has shown that religion alone determined the result of the election.
...
The plaintiffs continue to throw things against the courtroom wall in hopes that something will stick. The trouble is, their target isn’t the law. They’ve missed the mark in terms of legal arguments and therefore have to rely on strictly emotional appeals for sympathy.
...
The afternoon brought the testimony of our second witness, David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values, who provided his expertise on the institution of marriage, fatherhood and the family structure. He rejected the suggestion by plaintiffs that marriage is purely a private construct between two adults. Rather, he explained, marriage between a man and woman is a globally recognized and historically public institution. In fact, it is the only social relationship with a “biological foundation” found in the complementary nature of man and woman and their ability to procreate. Across all cultures and times, no other human relationship has been more closely connected to the ultimate goal of uniting the biological, social and legal dimensions of parenthood for the raising of children.
...
Blankenhorn also testified that allowing same-sex marriage would contribute further to the already-existing “deinstitutionalization” of marriage, which means the process of unraveling the purpose, rules and common understanding of the marriage institution as a whole. “Deinstitutionalizing” marriage, the witness explains, leads to higher rates of out-of-wedlock birth, more unmarried cohabitation, higher divorce rates, and more children being raised outside the scope of optimal conditions provided by their biological parents.

Outside the courtroom, the plaintiffs’ attorneys sharply criticized the notion that redefining marriage to include homosexual relationships would contribute to the deinstitutionalization of marriage. That argument, they said, is like saying that extending the right to vote to women “deinstitutionalized” the voting process.

Nice sound bite, but the analogy fails. Securing women’s right to vote didn’t do a thing to change the meaning and importance of voting. By contrast there is no doubt that re-defining marriage to include homosexual relationships would ipso facto divorce the institution itself from its fundamental, biological foundation. Nice try.

FULL PIECE: Spaghetti Strategy [Protect Marriage]

Only problem for Andy? His rabid condescension of the pro-equality forces doesn't change what everyone else is hearing/reading from the daily trials! The transcripts do not at all match his reality, and neither do the press reports! It's not just left-leaning outlets that are noting a less-than-ideal set of conditions for the pro-Prop 8 side -- most any objective read sees the vast difference in the capability of the two sides to make their arguments, even if you remove the merits of the case itself.

As for Blankenhorn? His credibility was called into question. David Boies also brought up a quote in which he'd said "We would be more American on the day we permitted same-sex marriage than we were on the day before," which completely hurt the anti-equality side's case. And Blankenhorn's even quoted as saying on the stand:

"I believe that adoption of same sex marriage would be likely to improve the well-being of gay and lesbian households and their children"

This is not a good witness for their side! But really, Blankenhorn's not to be blamed. Anyone who is forced to defend this losing measure known as Prop 8 will most likely suffer a blow, because it is simply an indefensible piece of discrimination! And honestly, watching the way Andy Pugno (and others) have spun this whole trial, we're beginning to think that they too know this.

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Your thoughts

". . .Professor Kenneth Miller, who essentially admitted that ANTI-gay people are being discriminated against in several areas of law."

Typo?

Posted by: Richard Rush | Jan 27, 2010 9:48:43 AM

Oops! Thanks, RR.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jan 27, 2010 9:56:36 AM

What really gets me is how Pugno is shocked, SHOCKED, that his side is asked to -- gasp-- answer questions! And how he is shocked, SHOCKED, that we are actually submitting EVIDENCE into a court of law!

You'd think this was a trial or something...

Posted by: Ty | Jan 27, 2010 10:09:55 AM

If Pugno's side loses, he can refer to his writings and describe the verdict as "another" activist judge running amok...even though he did everything right they are still being victimized by the mean (and apparently hugely politically powerful) gays. Must be exhausting seeing life that way.

Posted by: Sykler | Jan 27, 2010 10:38:17 AM

Sadly, the mainstream media are doing next-to-nothing to cover this trial. Anderson Cooper where are you? I only get the occasional clip online, but is Rachel Maddow covering this regularly? I hope so. The bigots are getting their NOM press releases, we LGBT and our allies are reading the transcripts, but the masses? I don't think they even know this trial is occurring. Yahoo had one article today and it was about how our team badgered the poor Pro8 witness. Headline was something along the lines of 'Expert Testifies Gay Marriage Will Lead to End of World.' It's exhausting, it really is.

Posted by: ScottNH | Jan 27, 2010 10:47:16 AM

*Must control...fist...of...death!* Poor Pugno declareth, "Rather, [Blankenhorn] explained, marriage between a man and woman is a globally recognized and historically public institution."

What the FRAK?!?!?!?!?! Dudes, you have apparently ENTIRELY ignored the Ethnographic record, as well as the data that professional Anthropologists and the AAA have found over the years, that completely blast your Christo-fascist views OUT OF THE WATER!

BTW, has it not dawned on you that my spreading this misinformation, that you might very likely be stirring up even more religious-based animus against us? Also, Pugno ol' pal, you are doing what generations of scholars have done over the years, by denying and even ignoring the cross-cultural evidence by inferring that European Christian culture is more superior than that of any other racial culture-group who has a far more fluid definition of a family and gender-roles. For generations many scholars operated under the pretense that if something was historically "great", than it *must* have been European; and their views were more than severely slanted in that direction. Some scholars and professional historians today are similarly slanted, albeit they wouldn't dare to publicly mention their bias.

And, what this talk about "optimal conditions" for?! Dude, that is deplorably heterosexist! In fact, such reasoning has been entirely abandoned by researchers in Sociology for at least a couple generations, now. Why strive to bring it up and to parade it around as "matter-of-factual" when no one professionally supports this claim, now?

BTW, is anyone else afraid of the fact that, historically-speaking, the SCOTUS simply has NEVER up-held the 14th. Amendment?

Posted by: Wade MacMorrighan | Jan 27, 2010 11:10:44 AM

And, now we wait. Next date is Feb 26, when both sides will submit proposed findings of law tied to evidence, and maybe within a month of that, closing arguments. It's hard to see any decisive blow that the defenders of Prop H8 made, but it is also too early to claim victory, but I think that Olsen and Boies have made the best case possible for our cause.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Jan 27, 2010 4:05:21 PM

The incomeptence of the defendant-intervenors' legal team is staggering. It's clear that they didn't prepare Blankenhorne for cross examiniation. They didn't coach him in how to act on the stand. No trial lawyer worth his salt would ever let a witness go on the stand without being thoroughly coached. A simple "I don't know" carries far more weight than an fumbling, evasive answer. That's simple common sense.

Posted by: TomTallis | Jan 27, 2010 6:29:33 PM

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