Prop 8 Trial Day 10: Power or Just Glitter?

Plaintiffs in the Prop 8 trial are trying to prove that Prop 8 was motivated by discrimination, and outright hostility, toward gays and lesbians, who were without substantial political power to stop it.

On Monday, plaintiffs wrapped up their case by presenting one last batch of e-mails, campaign materials and video to prove their point. First and foremost was a presentation of videos of campaign simulcasts to church groups, in which clergy say that the defeat of Prop 8 would lead to things like the legalization of polygamy and marriage to children. One man compared the consequences of same-sex marriage to those after 9/11. Although the official proponents of Prop 8, Protectmarriage.com, has tried to distance itself from some of the more wild claims, they acknowledged that they paid for the simulcasts. Also presented were emails from their exec director, Ron Prentice, who worked to coordinate the messaging, and was apparently concerned with how things would look if the video made its way to Dr. Phil.

The defense opened their side with Claremont McKenna professor Kenneth Miller, who testified on the political and cultural strength of gays and lesbians. He put President Obama into this camp of supporters, although lead counsel Charles Cooper in opening arguments made sure to point out that Obama was one of the opponents of same-sex marriage. Miller also cited the impressive $43 million that the No on 8 campaign raised, fielding contributions from Hollywood figures and outright support from a host of Silicon Valley companies.

Plaintiffs over the past two weeks presented an array of expert witnesses who testified on the lack of political strength of gays and lesbians, noting the dozens of propositions that have passed restricting marriage.

David Boies cross examined Miller by getting him to admit that there as much scholarly research for which he was not that well versed. And later in the day, Boies did get Miller to admit that the Prop 8 traditional definition of marriage “creates distinctions between the two groups.”

The case could very well wrap on Tuesday, save for closing arguments, which Judge Vaughn Walker would like to schedule after he has a chance to review the evidence. A possible witness is Frank Schubert, the political mastermind behind the Yes on 8 campaign, who proponents want to call, presumably to distance the official campaign from some of the more inflammatory rhetoric.

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