January 13, 2010
Court Mulls California's Proposition 8
A federal court turned to historians Tuesday as it considers the constitutionality of Proposition 8, an amendment that banned same-sex marriage in California.
Harvard professor Nancy Cott told a federal court in San Francisco that child rearing was only one of several purposes of marriage, not "the central or defining purpose," the Los Angeles Times reports.
She noted that that divorce rates rose steeply in the 1960s and marriage continued to be viewed negatively in the 1970s as heterosexuals advocated "open marriages" and "swinging." But divorce rates hit a plateau in the 1980s, and marriage is now held in high esteem in the U.S., she said.
She attributed the higher status of marriage to advocacy by the Christian right and the growing clamoring of gays and lesbians to participate in it.
During cross-examination, lawyers for the Proposition 8 campaign noted that racial restrictions on marriage in the U.S. were never as "uniform" or widespread as the ban on same-sex marriage. He also asked Cott if it was possible to predict the consequences same-sex marriage would have on society.
The Alliance Defense Fund has been posting regular Twitter updates of the trial.
The U.S. Supreme Court overruled U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker Monday and blocked video coverage of the trial on YouTube, according to the Los Angeles Times.
This is the second time in recent months in which the high court has intervened on behalf of the defenders of "traditional marriage" and granted an emergency appeal.
In October, the justices blocked officials in the state of Washington from releasing the names of 138,000 people who signed ballot petitions seeking to overturn a state law giving equal benefits to gay and lesbian couples. Under Washington law, the names were considered public record.
Meanwhile, a group of conservative leaders gathered in Washington, D.C. yesterday for a press conference lobbying congress to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act. Leaders included Maryland pastor Harry Jackson, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
“This right has been illegally taken from the people by the Council and it is the responsibility of Congress to restore it,” Jackson said.
The group also wants Congress to veto a bill passed in December that legalized same-sex marriage marriage Washington, D.C.