Sunday, February 14, 2010

Anti-Straight Bias Huffery Puffery ... Give Me a Break!

Anti-Straight Bias Huffery Puffery ... Give Me a Break!

The wingnuts are at it again, this time over the news that the judge in the Proposition 8 case is gay. So of course that means he’s automatically biased against straight people, according to them. But despite all the dramatic huffery puffery coming from the usual suspects, including Andy Pugno, pro-Proposition 8 activist and lead attorney defending it, Judge Vaughn's worst anti-straight offenses are wanting to have the case be a part of the Federal District Court project for recording and delayed broadcasting via YouTube of court proceedings and for ordering pro Prop 8 documents be turned over for evidence.

Of course they conveniently overlook the fact that when George H.W. Bush appointed Judge Vaughn Walker to Federal District Court he encountered a major obstacle, that he was anti-gay because of a case he took when he was a private attorney representing the U.S. Olympic Committee in a successful bid to keep San Francisco's Gay Olympics from infringing on its name.

But that’s not the only evidence of their selective amnesia. There are many shocking example of judicial bias on record.  Inconviently, however, they certainly don’t show a pattern of anti-straight bias in the judiciary.

On May 15, 1988 Richard Lee Bednarski, son of a police officer, and a group of his high school friends went gay bashing in the Cedar Springs area of Dallas. As a result, 2 gay men, John Griffin and Tommy Trimble, were shot to death. Although the prosecutor asked for the death penalty, Judge Jack Hampton sentenced the killer to 30 years, saying “I don’t care much for queers cruising the streets. I’ve got a teenage boy,” Hampton told the Dallas Times-Herald. Hampton said Griffin and Trimble wouldn’t have been killed “if they hadn’t been cruising the streets picking up teenage boys,” and that he would have handed down a harsher penalty if the victims had been “a couple of housewives out shopping, not hurting anybody. “I put prostitutes and gays at about the same level, and I’d be hard pressed to give someone life for killing a prostitute.”

In September 1995, Pensacola trial judge Joseph Tarbuck made it clear that he thought children are better off living with murderers than with gay couples. He heard a case in which a Mary Ward mother asked for an increase in child support payments for her daughter Cassie Ward. But rather than address that issue, he removed Cassie from the home of her Mother and lesbian partner and awarded custody to the child’s father, a convicted murderer, stating that he wanted the girl to live in a non-lesbian world.

Alabama Supreme Court chief justice Roy Moore in a 2002 case awarding child custody to abusive father wrote that homosexuality is “abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature, and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature’s God upon which this Nation and our laws are predicated.” The state, he wrote, “carries the power of the sword, that is, the power to prohibit conduct with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution. It must use that power to prevent the subversion of children towards this lifestyle, to not encourage a criminal lifestyle.”

In March 2002, Mississippi Justice Court Judge Connie Wilkerson wrote a letter to the editor published in the George County Times, saying: “In my opinion, gays and lesbians should be put in some type of mental institute instead of having a [domestic partnership] law like this passed for them.” Judge Wilkerson was referring to an Associated Press article about the ability of gay and lesbian survivors to sue for the wrongful death of their partners. The judge invoked the Bible and Romans 1:32, which suggests that those who break God’s law “are worthy of death.” A right-wing Christian organization, American Family Association’s Center for Law and Policy, is defending Judge Wilkerson against an ethics complaint for those comments.

Lawrence v. Texas, the seminal 2003 case that struck down sodomy laws and affirmed gay citizens' right to privacy denied to us by the hateful 1986 case Bowers v. Hardwick. In Lawrence, Justice Antonin Scalia compared homosexuality to bigamy, incest, prostitution, and bestiality. He also said homosexuality was contagious and that teachers could induce their students to become gay. He accused the Court of "signing on to the so-called homosexual agenda". Scalia has said publicly that he considers being gay an "immoral lifestyle choice".

That's what bias looks like.  So, Andy Pugno and friends, show us the real anti-gay straight bias out there.  Otherwise just stop whining.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Explosive Day at Prop 8 Trial - Transcripts Now Online

Wow!  What a day in the courtroom. 

The Olsen/Boies team introduced documents showing the collusion between the Catholic Church, the Mormon Church, and various evangelical churches behind the scenes in the campaign to take constitutional rights from California GLBTs and how they wanted to keep a layer of "plausible deniability" over their covert activities.  Their anti-gay polical activity included a conference call with 4700 California clergy and much much more.

Two amazing witnesses today as well as videotape of two of the pro-Prop 8 'expert witnesses' agreeing with the anti-Prop 8 side. 

SCOTUS made sure to keep the video of the trial hidden from us, but the transcripts are now becoming available HERE.  There is a 1-day delay.  Transcripts from today will be available late tomorrow.

Oh, and William Tam will finally be called to the witness stand tomorrow to have his hypocrisy revealed to the world.

I think the plaintiff's presentation will wrap up tomorrow.

Keen New Service has been putting up good summaries of each day.  Check out this summary of this morning's testimony by a man who was damaged by so-called 'reparative therapy' forced upon him by his fundamentalist Christian parents.

The courtroom let out a collective gasp at the testimony: A 26-year-old gay man from Colorado recounted what his mother said to him—at the age of 13—when she found out he was gay.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Virtual White Hoods for Anti-Gay Activists?

Linda Greenhouse recently wrote the following observation in her New York Times Opinionator piece, Into the Closet.

Has anyone noticed that now that lesbians and gay men have left the closet to assert their equal rights as citizens, their adversaries seem to be running for a closet of their own? 

As the Proposition 8 court case has shown us, there is a long history of prejudice, violence, employment discrimination, economic boycotting, etc. against America's GLBT community.   One of the witnesses on Friday, January 15 described  what happened to her as she and her spouse were handing out pamphlets opposed to Proposition 8, “Dyke. You fucking dyke. You’re going to die and go to hell.”  If that witness, Helen Zia, can take it and then come back for more in full view of the public, why can't the anti-gay activists? 

That's the way it goes in our society.  You take a stand, make your opinion known, and then accept the consequences of your own actions.  Or at least that's the way it used to be. 

Now the anti-gay activists want to be protected from the repercussions of their activities. Those who have participated in anti-gay activism claim they are afraid to accept the responsibility for their actions.  Due to that fear, they have petitioned the courts to be able to continue their dirty work in secret. 

In an idealogically split decision this week, the US Supreme Court blocked the video transmission of the Proposition 8 court case in California.  The unsigned majority decision was a rather stretched excuse to cover what the dissenting opinion states so clearly.

The majority “identifies no real harm” from televising the trial, “let alone irreparable harm to justify its issuance of this stay,” wrote Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who was joined by Sotomayor and Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “And the public interest weighs in favor of providing access to the courts.”

And sadly, that's not all. 

Not long ago, the US Supreme Court barred the distribution of Washington State public records regarding a petition for an anti-gay ballot measure.  Now they're going to take that issue up again.

As Linda Greenhouse writes on January 15, 2001,
At its private conference on Friday, the Supreme Court is due to consider whether to hear an appeal brought by an organization called Protect Marriage Washington. Under the slogan of “Preserve Marriage, Protect Children,” the group ran a successful petition drive to place on the state’s November ballot a referendum giving voters a chance to repudiate a new state law that granted enhanced benefits to couples registering as domestic partners. (The voters ended up reaffirming the new law, which took effect last month.)

UPDATE:  SCOTUS did decide to hear the case during its meeting.  Final decision expected in June. 

Under Washington’s Public Records Act, the signatures on referendum petitions are public records, available for inspection and copying. The Public Records Act, itself the product of the public initiative process, provides as its rationale that “the people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created.”

Last summer, Protect Marriage Washington filed suit to bar public disclosure of the names of their 138,000 petition signers. It won an initial victory, but the Ninth Circuit ruled on the eve of the election that the names were subject to disclosure. The members of the three-judge panel observed that “referendum petition signers have not merely taken a general stance on a political issue; they have taken action that has direct legislative effect.” The court held that the public interest in disclosure outweighed the “incidental limitations” that disclosure placed on the signers’ exercise of their First Amendment right to political speech and association.

The case, Doe #1 v. Reed, No. 09-559, obviously got the Supreme Court’s attention. In October, with only Justice Stevens dissenting, the court issued a stay of the Ninth Circuit’s decision in order to permit Protect Marriage Washington to prepare a Supreme Court appeal.
There are other instances of anti-gay activists suing to remain secret such as the National Organization for Marriage's (NOM) lawsuit to keep its money-laundering activities from public scrutiny.   NOM has sued the state of Maine, claiming that its election laws are unconstitional.  

So what is NOM objecting to?  The state law requires anyone raising or spending more than $5,000 on a ballot question in Maine to disclose anyone who contributed more than $100 for that purpose.  Every other organization involved in the Maine ballot issue complied with the law without complaint.  NOM is a money-laundering scheme attempting to keep the identities of anti-gay activists secret. 

I do not find it surprising that the bigots are scurrying to hide under the rocks.  But I find it tragic that the idealogues on the US Supreme Court are working hard to provide flimsy excuses to circumvent the laws designed specifically to prevent that sort of covert activity. 

Wouldn't it be a lot simpler for SCOTUS to simply distribute some leftover white hoods?

Friday, January 15, 2010

William Tam: Reaped For What He Has Sown?


UPDATE:  They did not get to the notorious Hak-Shin William Tam on Friday.  Stay tuned.  Court resumes next Tuesday after the Martin Luther King holiday.

Today (Friday 1/15/10) the notorious organizer of Proposition 8 is scheduled to be called to the witness stand.

Here's a sample of his handiwork.

Via Lisa Leff:
Seeking to strengthen arguments against a ban on same-sex marriage, trial attorneys have introduced statements from a supporter of California's ban warning voters in 2008 that gay rights activists would try to legalize sex with children if same-sex couples had the right to wed.The material was presented Wednesday in the third day of a trial brought by opponents of the state's same-sex marriage prohibition.

San Francisco resident Hak-Shing William Tam, a defendant in the case, discussed a letter to Chinese-Americans church groups during a legal deposition taped last month. Tam wrote in the letter issued during the 2008 campaign that legalizing same-sex marriage was part of a broader gay agenda.

"On their agenda list is: legalize having sex with children," states the letter, which also cautioned that "other states would fall into Satan's hands" if gays weren't stopped from marrying in California.

Lawyers for two same-sex couples introduced the footage to buttress their contention that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional because it was fueled by deep-seated animosity against gays.