SAN FRANCISCO (BP)–Conservative attorneys say emotional appeals should play no role in deciding a trial outcome, but such appeals once again dominated the California Proposition 8 federal trial Tuesday when San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders — who supports “gay marriage” — took the stand.
The federal trial before U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco could last several weeks and will determine whether California was within its rights to prohibit “gay marriage” in 2008 by adopting Prop 8. The case likely will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court and decide the constitutionality of laws and constitutional amendments banning “gay marriage” not only in California but also in every other state.
Each day during the trial Baptist Press will post a blog entry from someone in the courtroom. Following is commentary on day six of the trial from Austin R. Nimocks, senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, which is helping defend Prop 8:
“And so it goes, another day of anti-democratic efforts to redefine marriage goes into the books. Tuesday’s events saw the testimony of two additional witnesses for the plaintiffs: San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and Dr. M.V. Lee Badgett, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts.
“The themes weren’t all that different from those of last week — purely emotional appeals coupled with expert testimony (which was easily dismantled by the lawyers for ProtectMarriage.com). Yet, as I’m listening to all of the testimony, I keep asking myself this question: Why are we having this debate here? Moreover, should we even be having this debate at all? After all, California has had this debate twice already, with both instances ending in the voters deciding that marriage shall remain what it always has been: one man and one woman. Thus, one could make a reasonable argument that this debate is old hat and unnecessary. However, even if it is appropriate to again have this debate, why here? Aren’t changes to social policy things that belong to the legislative process (which includes the initiative), or does it really belong to one judge? Clearly, our American system of justice cannot be grounded in the principle that a handful of activists can void a constitutional amendment adopted by more than 7 million Californians.
“Mayor Jerry Sanders spent much of his time reviewing his own personal opinion on same-sex ‘marriage,’ much of which stems from his experiences with his daughter, Lisa, who is currently in a same-sex relationship. He recounted how he changed his position on same-sex ‘marriage’ from one who opposed it to one who, during an emotional press conference in 2007, denounced Proposition 8 when faced with the desires of his daughter. Now, nobody doubts the true depth of Mayor Sanders’ emotions, or that he loves his daughter, but why again should the tears, however sincere, of one of hundreds of California mayors decide this question? To what extent is his testimony relevant in a court of law? It isn’t, but his opinion hasn’t been ignored. He was able to express it, just like millions more, at the ballot box in 2008. We shouldn’t be polling the opinions of mayors in court, but if we’re going to, then I have several California mayors from the 42 California counties that approved Proposition 8 that I’d like to see testify, too.
“If you spend any time in trial, as I have done most of my career, you know that jurors are regularly instructed to dismiss and put aside emotional appeals. Cases are decided on the facts and the evidence, not on how someone feels about this or that. Feelings do have a distinct place in both society and our system of justice, but that place isn’t in the courtroom. Of course, Mayor Sanders represents only one side of the spectrum of Californians who changed their mind about same-sex ‘marriage.’ Many Californians who were initially inclined to vote against Proposition 8 also changed their mind into voting ‘yes,’ and for good reason — they ultimately concluded that marriage should remain a unique institution that promotes the important interests of children and society and is about much more than a legal arrangement hinged exclusively upon the desires of adults.
“Professor Badgett testified for hours Tuesday, though most of those hours involved her being cross-examined on the many problems and inaccuracies with her testimony, as well as her numbers. The numbers which she put forth can be summed up as supposition upon supposition, guess upon guess. Now, economics in and of itself is usually a speculatory field in many respects, but Dr. Badgett’s testimony took economic speculation to a new level. However, as masterfully demonstrated by Chuck Cooper, the lead lawyer defending Proposition 8, facts are indeed stubborn things and don’t change for the desires of even the most staunch of advocates. Piece by piece, Mr. Cooper dismantled the house of economic cards built by Dr. Badgett and, in the end, Dr. Badgett even acknowledged that if economics demonstrated that same-sex ‘marriage’ was indeed bad for society, she would still support the repeal of Proposition 8 as the staunch advocate of same-sex ‘marriage’ that she is. In other words, where the rubber meets the road, Dr. Badgett believes what she believes, regardless of what the facts (or numbers, in her case) actually show.
“… And if you’re concerned about the trial not being televised, don’t worry. This trial is being heavily watched and well-documented. The laptop and TV screens present in the courtroom and overflow rooms are more than numerous, and a myriad of high-tech mobile phones and PDAs are in constant use. History won’t miss an ounce.”
Compiled by Michael Foust, an assistant editor of Baptist Press. For more information about the trial visit ProtectMarriage.com or www.adfmedia.org/News/PRDetail/3618. To read about the impact of “gay marriage” on the culture, visit http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=30209.