Photo: Norman Rockwell–Freedom of Worship
Religion, Family, Democracy— On Trial
The endless parade has come to a halt. Painfully, yet colorfully, we’ve all watched the emotional train wreck unfold over these last several weeks. Here and there bits of sanity reigned, but by and large raw, pity driven emotion ran the day.
Thankfully all binge parties must have an end and this one is no exception. Finally, Judge Vaughn Walker’s courtroom theatrics and baldface shenanigans have come to a close. All that remains are 30 days of preparation, the final arguments and the ruling.
No matter which way Judge Walker rules, his feckless reign will not ultimately hold sway. The fate of proposition 8 will end up in the hands of the United States Supreme Court; a judicial body, I might add, in which I have infinitely more faith.
Is there any question how Judge Walker will rule? He’s made his bias clear every chance he got. The better question is, what will the Supreme Court think of his antics? Somehow I don’t imagine they will look kindly on the abuse and mockery Judge Walker has made of the judicial system, thumbing his nose at basic freedoms, federal judicial practice and common decency. He may have won small points with the Oprah crowd, but the Supreme Court is not populated by Jerry Springer and Judge Judy. These are men and women who know the constitution, and the intent of its creators to protect the rights and liberties of all men with regard to personal belief:
“That religion, and the duty which we owe to our CREATOR, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore, that all men should enjoy the fullest toleration in the exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience, unpunished and unrestrained by the magistrate, unless, under colour of religion, any man disturb the peace, the happiness, or safety of society. And that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love and charity, towards each other.” –James Madison, Virginia Declaration
The bottom line is no one has the right to put religion, family or democracy on trial. These are freedoms and rights that are truly inalienable. All men are equal. No spurious claim to special rights can supersede the rights we all share in common.
See this from Ron Prentice, the executive director of protectmarriage.com.
The live testimony in the federal trial of Perry v Schwarzenegger, the historic court battle over the definition of marriage, finally came to a close yesterday afternoon.
Our lead trial attorney Charles Cooper and the rest of the Prop 8 Legal Defense Team did a superb job defending the will of the voters and the institution of marriage itself under extremely difficult circumstances in this San Francisco courtroom. As we consistently saw in most of the critical pre-trial rulings, virtually all of Judge Vaughn Walker’s significant rulings during the trial went against us.
For example, Judge Walker’s insistent efforts to broadcast the trial proceedings worldwide on the internet, in violation of federal laws, caused two-thirds of our expert witnesses to withdraw from the case just before the trial started. Quite understandably, these experts were fearful of the likely harassment and retribution they would suffer, personally and professionally, if their live testimony was broadcast worldwide as Judge Walker had ordered. As the trial started, the cameras were still rolling and there was no way to guarantee the witnesses that their testimony would not be broadcast. Even though the US Supreme Court later overruled Judge Walker and prohibited the broadcasting of this case, it was too late.
The loss of four witnesses put tremendous added pressure on our team of defense attorneys to find other ways to get our critical evidence into the record. So during over 30 hours of our cross-examination of the plaintiffs’ witnesses, our attorneys succeeded in moving key studies, statistics, reports and other evidence into the record, and obtaining critical concessions from the other side’s witnesses on many subjects, such as child-rearing and monogamy. Thankfully, our legal team was extremely successful in this regard.
After weeks of 20+ hour days, our attorneys finally were able to get a good night’s rest. We appreciate your prayers for them and your words of encouragement. Starting today, they will be working for the next 30 days to submit additional briefings to the judge. They will also start preparing to go back before Judge Walker sometime in March to present final closing arguments. And then we will await the court’s ruling.
No matter how Judge Walker rules, all sides agree that this is just the first stage in a much longer journey that will ultimately end at the U.S. Supreme Court. No matter which side wins this first legal test, the case is surely to be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and eventually to the nine Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Even though the live testimony has ended, we must continue our efforts to secure the resources needed for a strong legal defense of Prop 8. Please help us with your own contribution
, and forward this email to your friends and colleagues who themselves might make a donation. Our outstanding legal bills are substantial and the ongoing fight will be expensive.
Every person involved in our legal defense has made tremendous sacrifices. Lead trial counsel Charles Cooper and his team from the Cooper & Kirk law firm have done a spectacular job. Special thanks is also due to the excellent attorneys of the Alliance Defense Fund who donated literally thousands of hours of legal work as part of the defense team.
In particular, we are also extremely grateful to our own General Counsel, Andy Pugno, whose wife is due to deliver their third child any day now. Not only has he worked tirelessly for months on end and represented us ably in the courtroom, his entire family has paid a price as Andy has been fighting for the institution of marriage. We owe him, and his family, a debt of gratitude.
Below is a statement Andy released to the media late yesterday about the case. It’s an excellent summary of how this show trial unfolded.
Today concluded the presentation of evidence in the federal trial, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, challenging Prop 8’s definition of marriage as only between a man and a woman. Our Prop 8 Legal Defense Team did a remarkable job in defending the will of over 7 million California voters who passed it into law.
What may be lost in all the sensationalism of the past two and a half weeks of trial is that the burden of proof to invalidate Prop 8 lies squarely with the plaintiffs. They cannot win unless they prove that the voters were “irrational” when they chose to preserve the traditional definition of marriage in our state. Contrary to their public relations claims, the outcome of this case does not depend on whether the Prop 8 sponsors can prove that homosexual marriage will harm traditional
marriage. The controlling legal issue is not whether homosexual marriage is good or bad, but rather whether the people have the right to decide what is best. The plaintiffs simply did not carry that burden.
Meanwhile, we have shown that limiting marriage to its longstanding definition is rational because marriage benefits children, not just the adults. Whenever possible, it is best for a child to have both a mother and a father. And man-woman marriage is the only human relationship that can biologically serve that distinctive purpose. A same-sex relationship can never offer a child both a
mother and father. It’s that simple.
The plaintiffs put on a spectacular show-trial of irrelevant evidence, calling to the stand many “expert” witnesses to testify that allowing homosexual marriage would: help local governments raise more tax revenues, help gay and lesbian couples to accumulate greater wealth, and improve the self-esteem of homosexuals. But those are political arguments for society to consider, not legal
support for the claim that the US Constitution contains the right to homosexual marriage. The courtroom is simply not the proper forum for what is clearly a social, not a legal, appeal.
Thank you for your continued help through prayer, financial support, encouragement, and spreading the word. We – all of us – are responsible for the shape of our society when we hand it off to future generations.
Ron Prentice, Executive Director