Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Big Day

Today is a big day for the huge LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual) community in the USA. Today is the day for final arguments in the California trial to overturn Proposition 8. Prop 8 is the controversial law passed by referendum that took away the rights of gay and lesbian citizens to marry in that State. The passage of Prop 8 is being challenged on Constitutional grounds. The lawyers for the plaintiffs are David Boies (Democrat) and Ted Olson (Republican), the two powerhouse lawyers and strange bedfellows who faced off in Gore v. Bush are now on the same side, fighting for equality!

The plaintiffs in Perry v. Schwarzenegger are Kris Perry & Sandy Stier and Paul Katami & Jeff Zarrillo, two couples who want to be married but cannot because of Prop. 8.

Kris and Sandy have been together for more than ten years and their family includes four boys. Both are in public service - Kris leads a childhood health and education agency and Sandy works for a county health department. Their home life centers around their kids, with PTA meetings, soccer and music lessons taking up much of their free time.

Paul and Jeff have been together for nine years. Jeff is a general manager for a movie theater company and Paul is a business owner. They own a home together and are proud uncles. The powerful testimony of the plaintiffs, along with the presentation of 17 witnesses and revealing cross-examination of the defendant-intervenors' witnesses, clearly exposed the unconstitutionality of Prop. 8.

I was hesitant to jump on the bandwagon to support this challenge as I felt (and still feel) that what the gay community and their friends stand to gain with a win is far outweighed by what we stand to loose with a loss. Whatever the outcome of the California case (and I sincerely hope for a strong win), the question will end up before the US Supreme Court and my concern was that placing the issue before a right leaning Court would be taking too big a chance.

Former Nixon White House counsel John Dean (speaking of strange bedfellows) was among those who worried early on that the case has high stakes:

“It would be wonderful if Olson and Boies were to succeed. It will be a disaster if they fail. While they will go on to their next big case, untold thousands in the LGBT community could be devastated by their failure. Olson and Boies are placing at risk the slow, state-by-state, steady progress that has been moving apace across the nation.”

You can follow the final arguments form both sides on the Internet. The Judge's decision should follow soon. One site that is following the case closely is Pam's House Blend Blog.

It is very presumptuous but the questions the Judge presented to both parties to be answered today seem to indicate that he is preparing to come down on the side of the plaintiffs and overturn Prop8. This is a very good sign!

The problem that I have is that I am totally incapable of understanding how one segment of society could possibly consider themselves better than any other segment based on something that is totally beyond their control. We cannot choose our colour, sex or sexual orientation so how can you being one and me being another make me better than you?

We can however, choose our religion so those who have chosen to join a hate based religion should maybe start thinking of joining a more tolerant religion or, better yet, becoming an Godless Socialist like me.