9th Court of Appeals: Prop 8

Oral arguments in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, aka the Prop 8 trial, will be held before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today at 1 pm EST, 10 am, PST.

Set C-SPAN to stun and get ready for an all out brawl, 9th court style.

http://www.afer.org/follow-the-case/

Towleroad hosts a live chat and special coverage during and immediately following the hearing. Featuring Richard Socarides, Attorney and White House adviser under President Bill Clinton and bloggers Andy Towle and Corey Johnson.”

Or watch it live, online: https://www.calchannel.com/channel/live/4

And hopefully I’ll post my reax sometime today, though who knows when for sure…

Prop 8 Question

Am I correct in understanding that if the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agrees with Judge Walker’s decision same-sex marriage will necessarily be legal in the entire jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals?  Pictured Below.

Cautiously Optimistic on Prop 8

On really big decisions, especially ones that involve a lot of media coverage, the court will give the lead counsel the verdict ahead of time so that they can prepare for media and immediate appeals.

Vaughn Walker has a history of doing this and last night at 6PM the DIs (villains) filed a motion for Stay Pending Appeal, exactly what they would do if they knew they were going to lose.

This does a much better job of explaining it than I do.

Prop 8 Verdict

Tomorrow, between 1 and 3.  I will comment no doubt.

Between bronchitis and medicating bronchitis, I’m not terribly awake so… yeah.  Just thought I’d tell anyone who hadn’t heard.

Prop 8 Closing Arguments

Should you wish to read the entire thing, it is available here.

From what I can tell, there’s only one argument that Prop 8 Proponents have, which is that only heterosexuals can get accidentally pregnant, so marriage is necessary only for them.  It’s a strange argument, no doubt, but it is essentially the only quantitative difference between gays and some heterosexuals.  I say some because, of course, people who are infertile, past menopause, or who have no intention of reproducing are allowed to get married, so long as their genitals look one way or another.  To say that marriage is only about protecting children from being accidentally created is… well… changing the definition of marriage, which is supposedly something these guys are against.  Judge Walker said it nicely.

And [marriage], as Mr. Olson described this morning, is a right which extends essentially to all persons, whether they are capable of producing children, whether they are incarcerated, whether they are behind in their child support payments. There really is no limitation except, as Mr. Olson pointed out, a gender limitation.

Judge Walker asked a series of penetrating questions, I was quite impressed.  They were the questions I would have asked, but much less snarky.    He asked why the chief witness for the Prop 8 side had said we’d be more American the day we allowed same-sex marriage, he asked why it’s OK to take away the rights of a minority when nothing good comes of doing so, he wanted to know why it wasn’t gender discrimination if not homosexual discrimination, and he wanted to know if it was appropriate for the court to make a decision still being fought over politically.  And of course Mr. Olson was eloquent as always.

What we’re talking about here is allowing individuals who have the same impulses, the same drives, the same desires as all of the rest of us, to have a relationship in harmony, stability, and to form a family and a neighborhood, all of those things that the Supreme Court talked about.  And, now, tell me how it helps the rest of the citizens of California to keep them out of the club. It doesn’t.

These are, undoubtedly, very pretty words.  But I actually think the entire decision is going to come down to one exchange between Walker and Olson, and it’s not necessarily a terribly pretty one, but it is, I think, the most important.  And that is, is it politically viable to send this to the Supreme Court now?  It’s an important question, and one that a lot of people who support gay marriage disagree on.  There was a lot of hostility and distrust from the gay community at the beginning of this trial because they were afraid it was doomed from the start and would sink the chances of gay marriage getting passed because the Supreme Court is so conservative (little c).

This is a long excerpt, but as I think everything depends on it, I’ll leave it long.

THE COURT: I fully understand. But there was already a tide running, a political tide running with respect to interracial marriage. And, as Mr. Cooper duly commented about the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court took note of that. Now, do we have a political tide here that’s going to carry the Supreme Court?

MR. OLSON: I believe, Your Honor, that there is a political tide running. I think that people’s eyes are being opened. People are becoming more understanding and tolerant.  The polls tell us that. That isn’t any secret.

But that does not justify a judge in a court to say, “I really need the polls to be just a few points higher. I need someone to go out and take the temperature of the American public before I can break this barrier and break down this discrimination.”

Because if they change it here in the next election in California, we still have Utah. We still have Missouri. We still have Montana.  This case is going to be in a court. Some judge is going to have to decide what we’ve asked you to decide.

And there will never be a case with a more thorough presentation of the evidence. There will never be a case with such a wildly crazy system that California has. There will never be a case more like Romer, where the right existed and hen it was taken away. There will never be a case against the background.

The Supreme Court really made that step that you are talking about, in Lawrence vs. Texas. And that overruled Bowers vs. Hardwick, which was only 20 years earlier. But that broke the barrier by saying that the behavior, the conduct between the individuals is a right of privacy, and it’s protected by the Constitution.

And the right of privacy is the same right that we’re talking about in the context of marriage. And I don’t think that is justification for waiting any longer.

And, as I said, the most compelling thing that I have read on that subject was the arguments that were being made to Martin Luther King saying, you know, “You ought to ease up. The people aren’t ready for these kind of changes. There’s going to be a backlash.”

And his letter from a Birmingham jail explaining why he could not wait to press the civil rights of his fellow citizens is as compelling a statement on that subject that’s ever been written.

And that’s the argument.  Everything else is proven, Prop 8 is unconstitutional, it’s wrong, there’s nothing that the Proponents have said that holds any water.  The only argument holding any water is the one Judge Walker is acknowledging, which is that maybe America isn’t ready to be the place it promises to be.  And there are many pragmatists, old and young, gay and straight who will agree with that, and there are many idealists who are crying and screaming and gnashing their teeth at the thought that politics is ever more important than human decency.

I think Judge Walker is ultimately a pragmatist, but he’s got a long view of things, and I think he’ll want to be on the right side of history.  So, my bet is that he’ll rule in against the constitutionality of Prop 8 and do so very conservatively and thoroughly, the real question is whether he’ll immediately reinstate gay marriages or not, and I tend to think he won’t.  But maybe.

Our Fate is in His Hands

50 Book Challenge: 1 – 5

Maybe you’re familiar with this one?  You basically challenge yourself to read 50 books in one calendar year.  I’ve decided to retroactively take on this challenge for 2010 because I’m fairly close to where you need to be in the year in terms of books read.

I have finished 18 books (it’s week 20 of the year) and gotten at least halfway through 4 more, and started 2 more than that.  So, if I finished all of that in the next 2 weeks (possible) I’d be at 24 and ahead of the game!  Plus, it means I get to keep lists, which I like to do.  And I’ve got an absurd number of books waiting to be read (Over 50).

If I got through all the Terry Pratchett audiobooks, which I started in February and have gotten through 12, I’d be at 36 for the year.  Frustrating that I have so many books on my hand and not the time to read them!  I think I’ll do updates with every five books and a brief review or thoughts, approximately in order of when I finished them.

1. A Religious Orgy in Tennessee – H.L. Mencken

I ordered this while following the Prop 8 trial because, basically, no one is a snarky about fundamentalists as H.L. Mencken and the parallels between Prop 8 and teaching creationism in school seemed obvious to me.  It was both uplifting and wholly depressing.  H.L. Mencken reads to me a lot like Hunter S. Thompson.

2. The Scopes Monkey Trial Transcript

PDF is not the best delivery mechanism for a book when you don’t have an e-reader.  I mean, I’m not sure if it’s the best if you do have an e-reader, but I’m guessing it’s better.  Anyway, I was heavy into transcripts because I was reading the daily transcripts of Prop 8.

3. The Colour of Magic – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer

Long ago I was given Wyrd Sisters from this series by my friend Nicol.  I couldn’t get through it for any number of reasons (cramped typeface, world I was unfamiliar with).  After I saw a couple of the BBC adaptations of Terry Pratchett stories and therefore had a Rincewind in my head that was solid, I decided to listen to the audiobooks, especially since Good Omens is a fantastic book.  Colour of Magic was great.

4. The Light Fantastic – Terry Pratchett, read by Nigel Planer

Second in the Discworld series, direct sequel to the previous one.  Good as well.

5. Equal Rites – Terry Pratchett, read by Celia Imrie

Third in the Discworld series and by far my favorite of them all.  This introduces Granny Weatherwax, who is my favorite Pratchett character, followed closely by Death.  Pratchett’s greatest skill as a writer, in my opinion, is that none of his characters are particularly attractive and they all have terrible flaws, but you like them and they never get over their flaws.  People don’t become pretty, or overcome their inherent selfishness or cowardice, they’re just regular people.

Why I hate you if you voted Yes on 8

I’ll sum this up for you.  Two men, Harold and Clay, lived together for 20 years in Sonoma County, CA, they took extreme care to make sure they had legal protections in place so that they could take care of one another.  Instead, when Harold fell, the county and healthcare workers ignored all the legal paperwork and refused to let Clay see him, refused to let Clay dictate the medical treatment, they forcibly removed Clay from their home and put him in a separate nursing home from Harold, against his will, and finally they took all of their belongings from that home and auctioned them off.  Harold died alone three months later.  Clay was finally able to get an attorney to get him out of the nursing home, but his home and all of his belongings were gone.

All of this in a county in California that voted 68% against Prop 8 — this is a place with support for marriage equality that still did this to a gay couple.  People don’t understand that this isn’t just a fight for a word, this is a fight for adults wanting to be treated as adults, capable of choosing who is important to them and who has a say in their lives.  This is about incredibly basic human decency that gay people are denied.  People think, oh stuff like that doesn’t happen anymore.

Yes, it does.  And it’s inhumane and disgusting and cruel.  And when you don’t support gay marriage, what you’re saying is “I want this to happen to people.  I don’t think gay people deserve to be treated like humans, they aren’t human as far as I’m concerned.  It’s not enough for them to live their lives away from me, I want them to suffer.” Every single organization, every single politician, every single person who supports the ban on gay marriage is tacitly endorsing this abuse.

http://www.nclrights.org/site/PageServer?pagename=issue_caseDocket_Greene_v_County_of_Sonoma_et_al

Clay and his partner of 20 years, Harold, lived in California. Clay and Harold made diligent efforts to protect their legal rights, and had their legal paperwork in place—wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives, all naming each other. Harold was 88 years old and in frail medical condition, but still living at home with Clay, 77, who was in good health.

One evening, Harold fell down the front steps of their home and was taken to the hospital. Based on their medical directives alone, Clay should have been consulted in Harold’s care from the first moment. Tragically, county and health care workers instead refused to allow Clay to see Harold in the hospital. The county then ultimately went one step further by isolating the couple from each other, placing the men in separate nursing homes.

Ignoring Clay’s significant role in Harold’s life, the county continued to treat Harold like he had no family and went to court seeking the power to make financial decisions on his behalf. Outrageously, the county represented to the judge that Clay was merely Harold’s “roommate.” The court denied their efforts, but did grant the county limited access to one of Harold’s bank accounts to pay for his care.

What happened next is even more chilling: without authority, without determining the value of Clay and Harold’s possessions accumulated over the course of their 20 years together or making any effort to determine which items belonged to whom, the county took everything Harold and Clay owned and auctioned off all of their belongings. Adding further insult to grave injury, the county removed Clay from his home and confined him to a nursing home against his will. The county workers then terminated Clay and Harold’s lease and surrendered the home they had shared for many years to the landlord.

Three months after he was hospitalized, Harold died in the nursing home. Because of the county’s actions, Clay missed the final months he should have had with his partner of 20 years. Compounding this tragedy, Clay has literally nothing left of the home he had shared with Harold or the life he was living up until the day that Harold fell, because he has been unable to recover any of his property. The only memento Clay has is a photo album that Harold painstakingly put together for Clay during the last three months of his life.

With the help of a dedicated and persistent court-appointed attorney, Anne Dennis of Santa Rosa, Clay was finally released from the nursing home. Ms. Dennis, along with Stephen O’Neill and Margaret Flynn of Tarkington, O’Neill, Barrack & Chong, now represent Clay in a lawsuit against the county, the auction company, and the nursing home, with technical assistance from NCLR. A trial date has been set for July 16, 2010 in the Superior Court for the County of Sonoma.

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.

What a Day

First, RIP Howard Zinn and JD Salinger. Strange to lose such great men on the same day. Perhaps they’d been keeping themselves alive for the State of the Union. I think there’s a John Adams and Thomas Jefferson story to be had under there.

Tonight at 8pm PST, the online test to qualify for Jeopardy! is available. You should go do that.

Scalito proved himself to be a horrific activist politician rather than an impartial judge last night. My level of hope for a reasonable decision on Prop 8 diminishes each time I consider the fact that Scalia and Alito exist.

And there was a study out today saying that gender didn’t matter in parenting.