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posted Friday, April 30, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 18
Closing arguments set for federal Prop 8 trial
Section One
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Closing arguments set for federal Prop 8 trial

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

On Wednesday, June 16 - 156 days after the start of the federal Proposition 8 trial - Chief Judge Vaughn Walker of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, will hear closing arguments in the case that challenges the constitutionality of California's Gay marriage ban.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights brought together attorneys Theodore Olson and David Boies - who most notably faced off in Bush v. Gore - to lead the challenge to Prop 8. In Perry v. Schwarzenegger, Olson and Boies represent Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, as well as Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, two same-sex couples who want to get married but cannot because of Prop 8.

Before hearing final arguments in the case, Judge Walker must still rule on an expected motion by the defendants - a coalition of right-wing social groups - to strike e-mails and campaign memos written by Prop 8 supporters that were already introduced as evidence in the trial, as well as the testimony of conservative San Francisco Minister Dr. William Tam. Tam, who helped Prop 8 qualify for the 2008 ballot, testified that allowing same-sex couples to marry would "cause children to become homosexual."

Judge Walker set a deadline for the defense to file its motions to strike the evidence by May 7.

"The scheduling of final arguments is an important step forward in this historic trial, but it is far from an end point in our nation's centuries-long war against bigotry and discriminations," said Rick Jacobs, chair of the 700,000-member Courage Campaign, the California organization credited in leading the fight to overturn Prop 8. "Today's events further underscore the fact that the opponents of equality will stop at nothing to exclude the American public from these proceedings and to suppress evidence that exposes the lies and hollow arguments being used to deprive law-abiding Americans of equal treatment under the law."

Ultimately, he said, "The promise of full equality for all Americans will remain unfulfilled until the American people are able to hear all the evidence."

At trial, Olson and Boies attempted to demonstrate the unconstitutionality of Prop 8 through the presentation of 17 witnesses and revealing cross-examination of the defendant-interveners' witnesses. Olson and Boies argued that Prop 8 does irreparable harm to Americans, that marriage has shed discriminatory restrictions over time, that Gay men and Lesbians are entitled to the full protection of the 14th Amendment, and that there is no good reason for Prop 8's denial of fundamental civil rights.

In addition, the lawyers say that Prop 8 violates the Due Process Clause by depriving Americans of fundamental rights, violates the Equal Protections Clause of the 14th Amendment, singles out Gays and Lesbians for a disfavored legal status - thereby creating a category of "second-class citizens" - discriminates on the basis of gender, and discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation.

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