Irrational Prop 8 Demands Get Their Day in Court

May 2, 2011 at 6:27 am 30 comments

Congrats to Matt on the new website and name for the show, but same great content -Adam

By Matt Baume

What really prompted a prominent law firm to give up its defense of DOMA, and lose a key lawyer in the process? The date’s been set for a showdown over the secret Prop 8 trial tapes, and over Judge Walker’s personal life. Rhode Island legislators give up on marriage in favor of civil unions, and New York keeps ratcheting up the pressure with a massive lobbying effort slated for next week.

There was a surprise twist to the Defense of Marriage Act this week. The law firm King & Spalding had initially signed on to defend the anti-gay law, but then abruptly ended their representation on Monday. Paul Clement, the lawyer in the case, responded by resigning from King & Spalding so that he could continue DOMA’s defense with another firm.

So, why did King & Spalding drop the case? They said that it just wasn’t vetted properly, but there’s a lot of speculation that they were heavily pressured by clients and colleagues to get out of the business of hurting gay families.

Now, a few people — including Attorney General Eric Holder — have come to Paul Clement’s defense, saying that our legal system has a duty to secure representation for even the most unpopular clients, because defending unpopular clients is necessary for protecting larger fundamental freedoms.

For example, if we want to protect the freedom of expression, that includes defending racist or violent speech, because there’s a larger freedom at stake.

But that’s not really the case here. What’s the larger freedom at stake with DOMA? There isn’t one. DOMA limits freedoms. Standing up for a cause can be noble. But not if your cause is denying health care, deporting husbands and wives, and forcing widows out of their homes.

There’s simply no justification for Paul Clement’s continued defense of this harmful law, which has even been renounced by the people who wrote it.

The good news is that more Senators have signed on to DOMA’s repeal, and we now have the 10 votes needed to pass it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The next step is to pressure Patrick Leahy, the committee chair, to hold hearings on the Respect for Marriage Act. So Vermonters, you know what to do: go to and tell him it’s time to hold hearings on the Respect for Marriage Act.

In the mean time, we can all mark our calendars for June 13. That’s going to be a big day in the Prop 8 case, as we’ll be hearing arguments on two separate controversial issues.

The first is whether the public should be allowed to see videotapes of the Prop 8 trial from last year. The answer, obviously, is yes, because we do not live in a country that makes a habit of holding secret trials. But the anti-marriage folks don’t want anyone to see how badly they lost, so they’re making the public jump through all these hoops in order to see our own justice system at work.

The second question is even more unbelievable. They’re saying that Judge Walker’s ruling on marriage should be thrown out because he might want to get married someday. Not that he said he would get married, not that he tried once before, just might. Hypothetically. Maybe. Or not. Who knows?

If that sounds crazy to you, you’re not alone. Just about every legal analyst in the country is shocked that they’re trying to make an issue out of Judge Walker’s marital plans.

It just doesn’t make sense — not even to their own people. Here’s what Maggie Gallagher had to say a few months ago about whether it was relevant that Judge Walker was rumored to have a partner.

MAGGIE GALLAGHER: First of all, it’s relevant. It could be relevant. It’s not irrelevant. If he had upheld Prop 8, I think it would be even more relevant. I don’t believe that it’s totally irrelevant. I’m not sure it is relevant, in the sense that I do know a small number of people who supported Prop 8 who were gay. So it’s not necessarily relevant.

Maybe they’ll get their story straight by June.

There was a big disappointment in Rhode Island this week, with House Speaker Gordon Fox deciding that they didn’t have enough votes to pass a marriage law this year. As a result, they’ll be introducing a civil unions bill on Tuesday of this week.

It’s a big letdown, especially since polls in Rhode Island showed that voters supported the marriage bill and nobody’s satisfied with the civil unions compromise. Civil rights groups say that it doesn’t go far enough, while the Catholic Diocese said this week that it doesn’t want gay families to have any protections.

Things are even worse in Minnesota, where lawmakers are moving towards implementing a second marriage on top of an already existing prohibition. The proposed constitutional amendment passed the Senate Judiciary 8 to 4 on party lines, and is expected to pass the House and Senate later this year, which would put it before voters in 2012.

There’s a bit more cause for optimism in New York, where marriage currently has 26 of the 32 votes needed to pass the Senate. Several lawmakers have yet to take a stand, including Democrats Joe Addabbo and Shirley Huntley of Queens, and Republicans James Alesi of Fairport, Greg Ball of Brewster, and Joseph Griffo of Utica. Empire State Pride Agenda will hold a lobbying day for marriage in Albany on May 9, but a week later NOM and its allies will hold an anti-marriage rally on May 15.

Meanwhile, Equality Ohio founder Lynne Bowman will serve as interim Executive Director of Equality Maryland while that organization searches for a permanent leader. Morgan Meneses-Sheets was abruptly fired last week after a disappointing legislative session. Her replacement will be expected to revive attempts to pass marriage and anti-discrimination laws in 2012.

And Poland announced this week that the country would soon allow its citizens living abroad to get married, although Poland itself still wouldn’t recognize those marriages.

Those are the headlines. Visit for more on all of these stories, and head over to and click “Like” to get news alerts and headlines right on your wall. Click over here to subscribe to weekly updates, or over to the right to watch some of our previous episodes, such as our interview with Josh Vandiver about how DOMA could separate him from his husband, and our interview with Friendfactor’s Brian Elliot about moving New York legislators closer to marriage.

We’ll see you next week.

Entry filed under: DOMA Repeal, Marriage equality, Prop 8 trial, Right-wing, Videos.

Marinelli: ‘Although we had photos of white people signing our petition, NOM didn’t choose any of them because the black woman was of greater political value.’ NYC rally to stop the deportations under DOMA

30 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ed Cortes  |  May 2, 2011 at 6:40 am

    Another set to watch!

    • 2. Ann S.  |  May 2, 2011 at 6:41 am


      • 3. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  May 2, 2011 at 7:03 am

        tx Matt. GO NY!

      • 4. Straight for Equality  |  May 2, 2011 at 7:34 am

    • 5. Alan E  |  May 2, 2011 at 7:25 am

      Will read/watch when I’m on my way to work.

      Oh and “America! F@€k yeah!”

  • 6. Sagesse  |  May 2, 2011 at 7:33 am

    To read later.

  • 7. Ronnie  |  May 2, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Subscribing & sharing…..

    The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge (aka. Prince William & Catherine “Kate” Middleton) are asking that instead of sending them wedding gifts that those who would like to send them a gift to so by donating to one of their (William & Kate) favorite charities.

    One of those charities is “Beat Bullying”, one of the UK’s largest bullying prevention programs.

    Kate Middleton, Prince William Ask For Donations To Beatbullying


    • 8. Carpool Cookie  |  May 2, 2011 at 11:48 am

      It is not in good taste to acknowledge that any sort of gift is ever expected…especially from people you didn’t even serve champagne to.

      This is an etiquette outrage!

      • 9. Carpool Cookie  |  May 2, 2011 at 11:49 am

        PS: I don’t mean it’s an outrage on Ronnie’s part [b]: )[/b]

      • 10. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  May 2, 2011 at 12:42 pm

        I’ve often been curious about that…why gifts are “expected” : /

        what about flowers at a funeral? In lieu of flowers, we encourage you to donate….

        • 11. AnonyGrl  |  May 2, 2011 at 1:05 pm

          Why are gifts expected at a wedding? Well, traditionally, a couple is just starting off on their life together, moving out of the parents’ houses, and they need STUFF to fill their own house. When the tradition originated the stuff that was given them were things like a sharp knife and a pair of goats. Obviously William and Kate won’t have THOSE sorts of needs, so asked that if you wish to follow the tradition of making a gift, give it to someone who NEEDS a goat… which, by the way, you can do at

          As to flowers at a funeral, that is to comfort the family and make them feel better… kind of like when you send flowers to someone in the hospital to cheer them up. Gifts to charity in lieu of flowers is a better way to show your respect, and does some good for others too. This is especially nice if the surviving family has bad allergies…

          Well, ok… that last bit I just threw in. But the goat donation link is for real.

          • 12. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  May 2, 2011 at 1:18 pm

            About gifts… of late I tend to rebel against any social norm imposed on me…like expected to offer a gift, so was glad to read Cookie’s comment……and then I was wondering if its a breach of etiquette to assume everyone’s required to give flowers at a funeral……

            I LOVE the picture of the kid holding a kid : D too much fun! I may just donate a goat! Side story, growing up I had an uncle who had a goat farm..loved to visit him and the goats…what fun to feed and milk them…and play with the kids!

          • 13. Carpool Cookie  |  May 3, 2011 at 11:42 am

            When you’re invited to a wedding or a funeral, the rational basis for that (supposedly) is that you are an important part of the person’s life, and it’s the bonding, enjoyment and support that comes from your sharing the event with them that’s the valuable thing. So, playing by the rules of this logic (which you’d HOPE is the truth!), a present is way way way more secondary. It’s not ever supposed to be broached by the host at all, and their first response if they’re pressed for gift ideas would be “Anything you like is fine…the important thing to us is your presence.” (Then they can break down and say what they’d like best if someone keeps asking.) But you certainly don’t make an announcement on invitations or in the paper that indicates you expect anyone to buy you anything.

            Also, you have the whole year following the wedding to give your gift, if you want to give one. In practical terms, if you’ve attended a wedding reception and drunk their champagne, it makes more sense to reciprocate with some kind of gift…it’s sort of a trade-off. But if you didn’t even attend (i.e., you didn’t cost the host any money), absolutely nothing, except for a card expressing good wishes, can possibly be EXPECTED. Yes, relatives and friends often send gifts anyway…but there’s no obligation at ALL.

            As to funeral flowers…a grieving person would probably prefer a casserole, or something that takes the burden of day-to-day life off their shoulders in that time. You can send flowers if you know the grieving person is a “flowers type” and enjoys their beauty, but there’s probably a more creative and personal way you can offer support.

            Different families and circles have different traditions, though. If everyone at every single funerals sends flowers in a certain town or group or whatever, and that group is dear to you, I’d do it just to avoid the discomfort of seeming to be out of it. Ask someone you know well, who also knows the family, as to what their traditions are. But again, someone doesn’t properly mention any “in lieu of sending flowers” business in an obituary. Because it starts treading on discussing finances. There should never be a dynamic imposed where someone feels they have to explain they didn’t send flowers or a gift because they were strapped for cash. So not bringing ANY of that up in ANY way is what lets the guest off the hook.

  • 14. Leo  |  May 2, 2011 at 8:09 am

    And today, if I’m not mistaken, is the deadline for amicus briefs (on both sides) in California Supreme Court.

  • 15. Ronnie  |  May 2, 2011 at 8:56 am

    At 7:40 of the video Lt. Dan Choi talks about the news of Bin Laden’s death….

    “Tonight means that we’re all American. Whether we are Christian Americans or Muslim Americans, Gay Americans or Straight Americans we’re all Americans and that’s what we’re celebrating here tonight. I don’t think we having anything else that we need to celebrate then that”


  • 16. Kathleen  |  May 2, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Love the roundup as usual, Matt.

    One correction, though:
    The hearing on June 13 won’t take up the question of weather the trial recordings should be made public. On the question of the recordings, the Court will only be considering the Proponents’ request that all copies be returned to the court. Plaintiffs’ counter-request that the recordings be unsealed will be considered later.

  • 17. Michelle Evans  |  May 2, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Don’t know if there are any fans of the show Doctor Who here at the P8TT, but thought I’d throw out the info that on Saturday evening’s episode, the idea of gay marriage was raised!

    Cherie and I thought that was pretty amazing, especially that it was raised as an issue involving an FBI agent and that the conversation took place inside the Nixon White House in 1969! It also involved interracial couples at a time when that was barely accepted nationally.

    Doctor Who loves to push the boundaries in so many ways, but this was a truly unexpected bonus.

    • 18. gaydadtobe  |  May 2, 2011 at 12:18 pm

      I have to catch up. I haven’t watched ay this season! Then again, I have to watch them online since I don’t have cable.

      • 19. Michelle Evans  |  May 2, 2011 at 1:05 pm

        Definitely worth checking out this season. Saturday’s was the end of the two-part season premiere. The mention of gay marriage is near the end of the episode.

      • 20. AnonyGrl  |  May 2, 2011 at 1:06 pm

        Me too, on line… and I LOVE Dr. Who. Thanks for the heads up Michelle!

    • 21. JonT  |  May 2, 2011 at 4:00 pm

      Yes! I saw that – what a pleasant surprise. I always loved Torchwood (a Dr. Who spinoff) for the same reason – equality :)

  • 22. Rhie  |  May 2, 2011 at 12:08 pm


  • 23. Rhie  |  May 2, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    I want to start watching Torchwood…do I need to watch Dr Who first? Netflix has Dr Who going back to the 2005 restart. I am definitely going to start watch Dr Who as well.

    Have you ever seen True Blood? Best show on TV about race relations and homophobia and it has to be in the context of vampires.

    • 24. AnonyGrl  |  May 2, 2011 at 1:56 pm

      You do not need to watch Dr. Who first… there is actually very little crossover information. Torchwood is self standing (and I do love Torchwood too… )

      I have not seen True Blood… but it is on my list to check out.

      • 25. Michelle Evans  |  May 2, 2011 at 2:06 pm

        Torchwood is back in July. Looking forward to seeing Captain Jack.

        • 26. JonT  |  May 2, 2011 at 4:01 pm

          +1000! :)

          I miss Yanto (sp?) though :(

    • 27. gaydadtobe  |  May 2, 2011 at 2:18 pm

      Yes, watch Dr. Who first. You will understand Captain Jack a lot better (and understand where the hand came from). The best way would be to watch Dr. Who up until Captain Jack leaves for the first time (end of season 1?). He comes back into Dr. Who in another season. When he comes back, that is actually the end of Season 1 of Torchwood. Torchwood picks up again when Captain Jack leaves Dr. Who again.

      I think he is so hot. I’m curious to see where Torchwood is going to go after the end of Season 2 and that mini-movie.So many changes! (trying hard to not give out spoilers).

      • 28. Michelle Evans  |  May 2, 2011 at 2:41 pm

        Like with the first two episodes of Doctor Who this season, Torchwood will be on this side of the pond when it returns. It’ll be played on Stars and Encore here, so not sure if BBC America will also have it.

        It is a much more adult version of Dr Who, and deals fairly openly with Cap Jack Harkness being bisexual. Except on Glee, this is one of the few shows that deals with this aspect of being LGBT.

        • 29. gaydadtobe  |  May 2, 2011 at 3:08 pm

          and as casually as opposite-sex relationships on any other (including Torchwood itself) show.

          • 30. Michelle Evans  |  May 2, 2011 at 3:37 pm

            That’s the beauty of Torchwood (and Doctor Who, now) that it is simply a fact of life, and no one thinks twice about it. If only it were that way in the real world.

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