Monday, September 19, 2011

Prop 8 Defense Witness: "I never felt physically threatened"

During the Prop 8 trial (Perry v. Schwarzenegger), the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and the legal defenders of the discriminatory Prop 8 opposed plans to broadcast the trial live. They alleged that the witnesses who were going to testify in defense of Prop 8 were petrified of a live broadcast because they thought they would be exposed to threats and harassment from the LGBT community.

The issue over televising the Prop 8 trial went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, where the Court, without explanation, disallowed the trial to be broadcast.

In their pre-trial brief, the defenders of Prop 8 told the Supreme Court (PDF):

"The record is already replete with evidence showing that any publicizing of support for Prop 8 has inevitably led to harassment, economic reprisal, threats, and even physical violence. In this atmosphere, witnesses are understandably quite distressed at the prospect of their testimony being broadcast worldwide on YouTube"

In the mainstream media, NOM echoed the message:

"Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, which campaigned for Proposition 8 but isn’t a party to the case, said he is worried about the safety of witnesses, who could include contributors, campaign staff and volunteers.

'The question is really whether Judge Walker can put people on the stand where they can be threatened,' said Mr. Brown. 'It’s a question of people’s safety.'

I have always been of the opinion that this narrative might be mostly a disingenuous attempt to vilify LGBT advocates. For one, the witnesses who were set to testify in defense of Prop 8 were already public figures associated with opposing marriage equality and, therefore, testifying at trial wouldn't have been a big public revelation of their views.

And two, some of the very "marriage defenders" who would cringe in horror at the implication that "marriage defenders" might be bigots seemed simultaneously very invested in creating and perpetuating this narrative where LGBT advocates are evil, violent monsters who attack "marriage defenders" for no reason at all.

Well, apparently the star witness testifying for the Prop 8 defense, David Blankenhorn, didn't get the PR memo.

In a conversation with me over at Family Scholars Blog following one of his posts about the trial, Blankenhorn didn't even seem to be aware of, let alone "distressed" by, all of the threats he was apparently about to receive because of his testimony.

Not only did he admit that he hadn't heard of Brian Brown's claims, he said with respect to testifying:

"I never felt physically threatened."

Now that's an interesting development in the narrative.

No comments: