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Prop 8 Trial Day Four: Reading High Court Tea Leaves

Did the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling prohibiting TV coverage say more than no TV coverage in Judge Vaughn Walker’s court?

The Washington Post’s Robert Barnes writes that some court observers say it could be an ominous signal for same-sex marriage supporters, given that the court’s decision on a non-ideological issue (that of TV coverage) ended in a conservative-liberal split. One constitutional scholar says that their hastily written ruling sends two messages: “One was that the majority seem to regard Walker with skepticism for his
efforts to more broadly disseminate the trial. The other was an
acceptance of the argument from proponents of Proposition 8 that they
face harassment and even physical threats for their testimony, and that
even limited broadcast of their appearances at the trial would cause
them irreparable harm.” More here.

In the courtroom today, Walker rejected Prop 8 proponents requests that videotapes of the trial so far be destroyed, and that the taping that is going on now be stopped. Cameras are in the court, but they are to transmit to another overflow courtroom in the same building, with Walker using the tapes for his own review.

On the stand was Edmund Egan, chief economist in the Office of the Controller for the City of San Francisco, who testified on the economic hit that the city has taken absent same-sex weddings. He put the loss in the millions of dollars.

Later in the day, Ilan Meyer testified about the health consequences of anti-gay discrimination, in a lengthy examination and cross-examination that extended well beyond 5 p.m.

The San Jose Mercury News’ Howard Mintz writes that the testimony “hit a point of denseness that defies explanation.”

He writes, “Prop 8 lawyer Howard Nielson
and Meyer have essentially engaged in an ongoing debate as Nielson
tries to poke holes in the professor’s conclusions. To sum it up,
Nielson insists that the research is hopelessly flawed, and keeps
reading excerpts from studies and scholarly papers that include caveats
in findings about causes of stress to minorities. Meyer, in short,
concedes that no research is perfect, but, still, his is valid.”

Earlier, Mintz noted that Meyer commented specifically on Prop 8. “ Asked about Prop 8’s impact
on gays and lesbians, Meyer said: “It certainly doesn’t send a message,
“It’s ok, you can be who you want to be.” It sends the opposite
message.””

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