Perry: Day Three

Plaintiffs Kris Perry (left) and Sandy Stier talk before the start of the Proposition 8 trial. (Image by Diana Walker via AFER.)

Plaintiffs Kris Perry (left) and Sandy Stier talk before the start of the Proposition 8 trial. (Image by Diana Walker via AFER.)

Wednesday, the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial featured the continuation of the plaintiffs’ case.  It also featured an indirect hit from across the country, as the Supreme Court continued its stay of Judge Walker’s order calling for the trial to be broadcast in other courthouses across the country.  I cover the ruling extensively here and in a (more brief) article at Metro Weekly.

The day at trial, however, began with a continuation of the cross-examination of Yale Professor George Chauncey, who testified on Tuesday on the history of LGBT discrimination in the United States.

Alliance Defense Fund Attorney Thompson, representing the Proposition 8 proponents, focused the first part of his cross-examination of Chauncey on the gains made by LGBT people in recent years.  As the morning was summed up by Davina Kotulski, “YOU ALL HAVE BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN AND IT EVEN GOT AWARDS— GAY DISCRIMINATION IS OVER.”  Put a little — though not much — more subtly by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, “What Thompson is trying to prove: gays are big babies, life much better now. And being opposed to marriage [is] not anti-gay.

Check out Davina’s post for more.  The invaluable Dan Levine’s coverage today included this gem of a back and forth:

Thompson: gays have a powerful ally in Pelosi? Chauncey: “Not sure I would agree with that,” lots of issues haven’t moved forward.

In the re-direct of Chauncey, San Francisco Chief Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart has raised a series of statements made over time by Tam, one of the Intervenors, who requested to withdraw in the days before the trial.  Tam is a Proposition 8 proponent, and it’s now clear why the proponents wanted him to withdraw. He’s made a slew of far-Right, hateful statements about LGBT people, and they all are now being raised in court by Stewart.

From NCLR:

Chauncey describing pub[lication] written by Tam: compares homosexuality to prostitution, says child molesters protected next.

The only other testimony ended up coming from Dr. Letitia Anne Peplau, Professor of Psychology at UCLA, to testify about the beneficial effects marriage can provide to a person’s health and well-being as well as the social and personal importance that is attached to marriage.

Peplau also responded to some vigorous cross-examination about the quantifiable distinction between marriage and civil unions or domestic partnerships and about monogamy among gay male couples.  Lisa Keen, who has been covering trial, files an excellent report on Peplau’s very interesting testimony.  As Keen wrote:

And then Moss questioned Peplau at length about studies that indicated gay men were less committed to monogamy than heterosexuals and lesbians. She did so by asking Peplau about a study Peplau had helped author 25 years ago in which she said that, among some gay male couples, “sexual exclusivity may be the exception rather than the rule.”

“There are a number of things that are different now,” said Peplau. “It was really a different time.”

. . . .

Non-monogamy, said Peplau, is “not always infidelity or a breach of trust.” And with gay men, she said, there is often a clear understanding that the relationship does not have to be sexually exclusive.

The trial is to continue Thursday.


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About the Author

Chris Geidner is the award-winning senior political & legal reporter at BuzzFeed and has written for Metro Weekly, The Atlantic Online, The American Prospect,, Salon and other publications, as well as at his blog, Law Dork. He has appeared regularly on television commenting on current affairs, including MSNBC, PBS, HLN & Current. Prior to moving to D.C. in 2009, he served as an attorney on the senior staff at the Ohio Attorney General's Office and had earlier worked for a leading Columbus law firm. An extended biography can be found here, and you can follow him on Twitter.