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Report Back from the Prop 8 Oral Arguments

09 Apr 2013 2:35 PM | BALIF Administrator (Administrator)
From BALIF Member David Monroe:

I went to D.C. to sit in on the oral arguments. I am a lawyer admitted to the US Supreme Court, so I had a better than average chance to get inside and sit at "ground zero", so to speak, of the current status of gay legal rights in America.

I arrived in D.C. at 1:00 a.m. Monday morning from San Fran, went to my bed and breakfast, changed into my suit, and went straight to the Court, arriving at 2:30 a.m. It was about 36 degrees, chilly but bearable. I was 51st in line, good enough to get into the courtroom that day. We got into the building about 8:30. I was inside the courtroom for Prop 8 (2nd row center - nice!).

For DOMA the next day, I slept some, but still went to the court around 3:00 a.m. Wednesday. I did not get into the courtroom, between the lawyers paying for "Place Holders" to get the first 50 spots (a practice I detest, and will write to the Supreme Court marshals objecting to, as the use of "Place Holders" is not allowed in D.C. for congressional hearings, etc.) and the VIPs (many U.S. House of Representatives were there, including Nancy Pelosi, who did not have to stand in line), so I was in the lawyer's lounge for DOMA (where I could hear the arguments, but not see the proceedings).

My take on the Prop 8 - DOMA arguments in the US Supreme Court:

We still have work to do to educate the intelligent elite about the nature of gay people and the effects of discriminatory laws and language in society. They do not understand the oppressive effect of being denied equal treatment. They see us still as objects, not people.

The lady Supreme Court justices understand our position - not surprising, rising from the ranks of women, who have also been mistreated by the white rich straight men in America who think they rule the world, and experiencing the humiliation of being treated as "less than" - something most rich white men in America rarely experience. It was clear to me the white men on the Supreme Court did not understand what it is like to be discriminated against - they dismissed it as a passing discomfort, rather than the denigrating humiliation that it is.

On of the best points made by "our side" was the attorney arguing DOMA for the plaintiff, Edith Windsor, in response to Roberts' argument that we must now have extensive political power (and therefore do not deserve protection as a class), she pointed out that no other minority in history had been subjected to over 30 public referendums on whether we had rights, and we have lost 28 out of 30 times, indicating we do not have political power.

So we should continue to educate the straight world - make our movies, to reach those who do not have gay friends: but more focus on our humanity, rather than flaunting our sexuality. My goal - to make one feature film in the next two years that shows the effects of discrimination on people across the board, including my gay brothers and sisters.

I saw Rob Reiner in the hallway before the Prop 8 arguments, and did congratulate him for helping us get this far. Rob helped finance the underpinnings for the Prop 8 case and was there in the courthouse for the arguments.

Opinions are expected in June. My prediction: Prop 8 falls in California, but gay marriage is not addressed in other states; and DOMA Section 3 falls, leaving gay married couples in states that recognize gay marriage on equal footing with other married coupes. We will see.

And the journey continues...
Waiting for the Prop 8 arguments, like at 4:00 a.m. Tuesday morning - then I was interviewed on TV by the local SF affiliate (my roommate sent me a pic of my mug on his TV back at home that was broadcast that same morning, while I was still standing in line!) - and waiting outside shivering for the DOMA arguments (no pics are allowed inside the building); and after the DOMA arguments, the crowds outside...

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