Prop. 8 on Trial and more….Social Justice Week in Review
Posted by socgradmama on January 16, 2010
As usual, there’s a lot happening. Here’s some highlights:
My thoughts and prayers are with Haitians today (and daily). I don’t even know where to start linking because it’s horrible everywhere. Everyone has a particular relief organization to plug and as long as your money isn’t going to exorbitant “administration” costs, it probably doesn’t matter. Also beware that writing a check actually gets more money into the hands of the people we want to help rather than the banks who take their cut in plastic “fees.” Personally, I’m a fan of Drs Without Borders and Direct Relief International.
My twitter feed slowed considerably today as #prop8 tweeters took a much needed and well-deserved rest from live-blogging from the Federal Courtroom in San Francisco as Prop. 8 went on trial this week in Perry V Schwarzenegger. Even before opening arguments in this historic case, there was wrangling over cameras in the courtroom. Apparently the Pro-8 witnesses are afraid if their bigotry testimony is broadcast. Judge Walker ruled to allow delayed YouTube video but the Supreme Court blocked that ruling. So the tweeters and bloggers are hard at work and we are very grateful. In particular, I’ve been following Syd Peterson at LGBT POV, NCLR’s Shannon Minter with daily trial analysis at Pam’s House Blend, LiveBlogging and Analysis from Courage Campaign Institute’s Prop8TrialTracker, and @NCLRights on Twitter.
Now that I’ve given all those fabulous links, I feel rather inadequate at doing justice to any sort of summary. And while I’m beginning to understand the legal arguments, I’m definitely NOT an expert of any sort so I’m going to leave that discussion to those who are (see above). But as a graduate student sociologist, I’m fascinated by the amazing amount of social science presented and debated in the courtroom – something that makes this social scientist feel like her field is very much worth her education! So I’ll briefly mention the contributions of these social scientists. Day One of the trial included opening arguments, moving testimony from the plaintiff couples and arguments about the social construction of marriage as an organizing principle of our society, with historian at Harvard, Dr. Nancy Cott, explaining that marriage has never held one constant meaning but has varied with social changes over time. On Day Two, Dr. George Chauncey, a social historian of Gay and Lesbian History from Yale, spent time talking about the history of discrimination against gay and lesbian people and tying the legacy of hateful stereotypes to the actions and propaganda of the Yes on 8 Campaign. From what Shannon Minter is saying, a lot of this goes to trying to establish arguments for heightened protection of gays and lesbians as a stigmatized class. Day Three saw a social psychologist on the stand, Dr. Anne Peplau, who testified that marriage is good for couple’s relationships and that same-sex couples are no different from other-sex couples in terms of their relationships. An economist began the testimony on Day four. Edmund Egan, the chief economist in the Office of the Controller for the City of San Francisco testified about the financial harms done to the City because same-sex couples cannot get married. His testimony was followed by that of a Professor of Clinical Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia, Dr. Ilan Meyer (he’s a social psychologist +). He testified as to the physical harms suffered by those who are the victims of LGBT discrimination. Finally for this week, Day Five included testimony from a child and developmental psychologist, Dr. Michael Lamb (Cambridge – all the tweeters and bloggers mention their enjoyment of his accent), who brought it home that children are not harmed by having LGBT parents and that in fact, there’s no difference in their psychological well-being from children of other-sex parents. The last person on the stand this week was Helen Zia, an Asian-American author and journalist who testified about her life and her struggles against the prejudice that kept her in the closet for a long time and how she and her partner are accepted (differently and better) now that they are legally married. It’s not being explicitly discussed this way in the analysis that’s coming out but reading between the lines, it seems as if Zia is also speaking to the intersections of race and sexuality as well.
So there we have it. In this first week we have an historian, a social historian of LGBT history, two social psychologists, an economist, a child and developmental psychologist and a journalist/author on the stand as well as several couples – all testifying to the harms of homophobia and firmly pushing back at the erroneous stereotypes and beliefs about gays and lesbians as the harmers of children and the ones who want to change marriage forever. I’m very grateful for them all.
I’d be remiss not to mention a couple of other things that have happened this week. The Justice Department decided to intervene in a case where a father is suing a school district on behalf of his gay son because they failed to protect him from bullying because of his gender presentation. The UN Urged Uganda to lose their proposed hateful and harmful anti-gay legislation. A judge in DC rejected a suit against their new marriage law. A constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage has been introduced (again) in Indiana.
The creation of the healthcare plan continues. I can’t say as how I understand what’s going on at this point (probably mostly because I gave up when the public option went away) but here’s some articles: Paying for it is a problem (duh), Democrats are worried about their jobs because their constituents aren’t impressed with the cost and complexity of the bill (duh), and Nebraska tried to get away with no paying their fair share (!!). So I guess it seems like business as usual. Can anyone recommend any good blogs on healthcare?
The Immigration Justice Movement is rallying this MLK weekend. The national media isn’t exactly publicizing actions. Here’s a blog that lists some of the rallies that have or are occurring. And Reform Immigration of America is tracking all of the rallies (not to mention has lots of information about immigration justice on the site). I happen to know for a fact that there is an Immigration Justice rally organized by Pueblo happening in Santa Barbara on Monday at 5pm, but damned if I can find a news article about it!
I think that is about all I have time to sort out for this week. I’m sure there is a lot of important stuff happening that I’m not catching – please leave me a note and a link in the comments! As a final note, as an academic and an activist, I’m delighted when scholars manage to effectively cross the “divide” as Drs. Verta Taylor and Katrina Kimport did as their research on the protests to win marriage back 2004 made the national news. It’s good to have examples to follow!
Don’t forget – Camp Courage Central Coast is coming to Santa Barbara on Jan. 30 and 31. Reserve your space now as space is limited. Come help build our community through the power of shared stories. This training will give you tangible skills for working toward equality and justice through all whether that is in the form of those difficult conversations or whether you want to learn to host house parties! See here for more details.