Releasing the Prop 8 Videos

 

People in an open society do not demand infallibility in their institutions, but it is difficult for them to accept what they are prohibited from observing – Chief Justice Berger

Former Chief Judge Vaughn Walker, who presided over the Prop 8 trial, recently used some of the video that was taken during the case as part of a lecture.  The Proponents, aka supporters of Prop 8/opposers of gay marriage, immediately took great offense and sent what was essentially a cease and desist order that demanded the return of all the copies of the tapes, Walker's and anyone else who had them.

 
In response, Ted Olson and David Boies, the legal tour de force trying to lift the gay marriage ban, filed a request that the tapes be unsealed and released to the public.  After all, the trial is a matter of public record and the transcripts are freely available.
 
Originally, the trial was going to be broadcast live, but the Proponents felt like this might scare some of their witnesses away, and so they demanded that it not be broadcast.  Judge Walker taped it, but didn't release the tapes, to the great disappointment of the men and women across the country who wanted to see the greatest trial of the greatest civil rights battle of our time.

No one can really blame the Proponents for not wanting to have video footage of just how appallingly awful their defense of Prop 8 was.  They want to continue to play the victim here — they want to sell the idea that gay marriage is somehow a violation of religious liberty, rather than being completely the other way round.  The video of their disastrous performance would only reveal that they are driven solely by religion and bigotry — and that they aren't even capable of hiding that fact.

Some things that they don't want you to see on television, things that their own anti-equality witnesses did: a witness saying that DADT and DOMA were "Official Discrimination"; that same witness then saying Prop 8 was also discriminatory; Mr. Blankenhorn, their chief witness saying, "I believe that adoption of same sex marriage would be likely to improve the well-being of gay and lesbian households and their children"; Blankenhorn also saying, "We would be more American on the day we legalized gay marriage than the day before".

Well, I mean, no wonder, right?  But that's exactly why these things need to be released.  People need the opportunity to see how feeble the defense was and to really understand how motivated by religion the campaign against equality was.  Not everyone is as nerdy as me and reads trial transcripts because they find them so compelling — video is the medium of our lives, and well do the religious know that since it is the medium through which they sold their hate.

The vast majority of the money and on-the-ground support for the Prop 8 campaign came from the Mormon church, supplemented by the Catholic church.  This isn't even money from California, and it's certainly money that ought to take away their tax exempt status.  People need to be shown the kind of lies they were telling to get people to vote against marriage equality, the emotional manipulation about children and families, things so blatantly false they might be defended with the disclaimer: "not intended to be a factual statement."

Gay marriage doesn't destroy families, it doesn't destroy children, it really doesn't do much except make some people very happy and give them access to rights that the rest of us take for granted.  The trial provided an overwhelming amount of evidence that refusing marriage rights not only hurt gay people, but also hurt the thousands of children of LGBT parents.  It hurts these children irreparably, immeasurably, forever.  This wasn't in question, gay marriage opponents agreed.

These tapes shouldn't just be released, they should be broadcast on every news channel for weeks to expose just how rotten the argument is against gay marriage.  If you've ever questioned why church-state separation is so important, this is why.  If conservative Christians (and I include the LDS) hadn't funded the gay marriage ban, it wouldn't be in place, and even they couldn't create enough money to make credible witnesses or a real argument against gay marriage.  The monstrous unfairness of the church taking over, infiltrating, and outright buying the political process only to then lie to the public to get their way has got to stop.  Not only is it immoral, it is un-American.

Proponents motion for return of videos http://www.scribd.com/doc/52945974/CA9Doc-338
Vaughn Walker's response: http://www.scribd.com/doc/53041973/CA9Doc-339-Letter-from-Vaughn-R-Walker
Olson and Boies request for unsealing of videos: http://www.scribd.com/doc/52945974/CA9Doc-340
San Francisco's feisty response: http://www.scribd.com/doc/52945974/CA9Doc-341

 

Blog Against Theocracy: How religion controls America

I was fortunate enough, in my myriad wanderings through this world wide web, to come across something that’s going on this Easter weekend, which is Blog Against Theocracy.

So, I’m writing an entry for it, because I’m anti-theocracy, which doesn’t necessarily mean anti-religious, but I am also anti-religious.  I am not, however, against believing in God, or being spiritual, but I have a real problem with the political power structure that envelopes most organized religions.

I feel that religions take advantage of people who are at their most vulnerable, people who are scared, lonely, facing death, grieving, or simply at a loss as to the meaning of life.  These are serious, debilitating issues that everyone faces and religion offers an easy fix for them.  “Don’t fear being alone, Jesus loves you; don’t fear death, for you will go to heaven, and so will the loved ones you’ve lost.  Also, could you please donate a tenth of your net worth so that we can proselytize to help other weak and pathetic people in need and use that money to take advantage of politicians and control the government protect your interests.”

It’s incredibly difficult to live in this country without religious support.  Nothing in the country offers anything like the instant support, acceptance, friendship and network that religion does.  Most fraternities and sororities, the boy scouts, 12 step programs, many summer camps, many schools, and the pledge of allegiance (since 1954) all demand your belief in a higher power.  I live alone in Los Angeles, I don’t have a lot of friends, I don’t have a support network.  I am incredibly vulnerable to the appeal of joining a church or synagogue.  I mean, I’m in the entertainment industry, and I’m not Jewish or a Scientologist, how am I ever going to make it?

Religions are a power structure.  They are cults, they offer you the chance to fit in with a group, to be supported by the group, so long as you toe the line.  You get pressured into supporting irrational ideas, financially and politically.  You get put on the ground to do things that no sane person would do on their own.  They are incredibly political groups that are about self-promotion, self-protection, and getting away with as much as they can.

Who, in their right mind, would go to someone’s funeral to say that that person deserved it, were they not egged on by a group of supporters?  Who would refuse their child medical care were they not part of a group that demanded it?  Who would feel obligated to murder people who had harmed no one if it weren’t for religion?  Who would attack or murder a woman seeking an abortion without even asking her why she was doing it?  Who would refuse two people legal protection of the state, if it weren’t for their small-minded, 2000 year old book?  We’re not talking about isolated incidents, we’re talking about things that happen every day, throughout the country, and all over the world.

The founders were incredibly insightful, separating Church from State, but the problem is that churches are allowed to be states of their own.  They are impenetrable, untaxable, untouchable by the state.  Do I think that churches should be run by the state, no, but I also don’t think they should be above and outside the law.  I don’t think they should be allowed to be engaged in politics and spend millions and millions of dollars to get religious legislation passed.  I don’t think they should be allowed to hide their criminals and pedophiles.  I don’t think God’s forgiveness should remove someone from legal justice.

And so I wait for the US, founded on ideals it never quite lives up to but always strives to achieve, I wait for it to look at its Constitution and realize it needs to do something to protect itself and its citizens from the constant onslaught of religious nonsense.  I wait for it to say that I am deserving of equal protection under the law, that I deserve to be protected from mob rule, that other people’s imaginary friends and ancients books of myths are not more important than science and rationality and basic humanity.