Monday, March 29, 2010

The Pro-Prop 8 Pseudo-Monopoly on Truth

The defenders of California's ban on same-sex marriage, in reference to the pending judicial decision regarding the constitutionality of the ban, are now complaining that "there should not have been a trial."

That's an interesting claim, given the clear constitutional issue at stake. Perry v. Schwarzenegger Attorney David Boies thinks so too:

"It really is bizarre to complain about a trial. People usually complain when they weren’t given a trial. This is the way we get to the truth."

For as much as the "marriage defense" side postures to be the side of commonsensical folksy folk telling-it-like-it-is truth, it was very clear during this trial that "marriage defenders" were far more interested in emoting the trial than they were in substantively defending their staunchly-held position. Truth, something they believe they possess in ample quantities, is not something that is up for debate among many "marriage defenders." How could it possibly be, to those who believe that marriage is between a man and a woman because marriage is between a man and a woman and that is that?

Logistically, many "marriage defenders" are not used to having such "commonsensical" and circular assertions challenged under oath wherein they are required to answer questions on cross-examination by a legal scholar directly and non-evasively. Thus, when we remember the pro-Prop 8 side's desperate battle to ban cameras from the courtroom out of an alleged fear of harassment on the part of their already-publicly-identified experts, one wonders if their fear was really about being publicly embarrassed on the substantive points. Perry attorney Ted Olson wondered that too:

"'They weren’t worried about the publicity,' Olson said. 'They were worried about David Boies cross-examining them.'

In other words, Prop 8 advocates were unwilling to have the American people hear the case debated under the strict rules of the courtroom, where they would have to defend their position in detail, rather than simply answer 'softball questions' (presumably, from the media)."

Indeed, the expertness of the pro-Prop 8 side's key expert witness, David Blankenhorn, was seriously questioned on cross exam. On cross, he then revealed an ignorance of legal doctrine regarding marriage, admitted that there is no universal definition of marriage, and admitted that he knew of but was not familiar with a key study showing that the children of gay men and lesbians fared just as well as the children of heterosexual couples.

Under the rules of the courtroom, unlike the non-rules of the blogosphere, he had to directly respond to the questions that prompted these answers and he had to do so honestly. Unlike with internet interactions, this time a "marriage defender" couldn't start obfuscating the substantive issues by whining about the Mean Gay Mobs, by talking about the ickiness of anal sex, or by conducting power trippy character trials of people just trying to have a genuine debate.

You know, in my utopian fantasy world, every bigot, every homophobe, and every amateur just-telling-it-like-it-is "marriage defender" who thinks s/he's a marriage expert would be cross-examined by David Boies on CourtTV on a daily basis. Only then, perhaps, would this whole marriage debate be out of our faces in no time.

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