Thursday, January 21, 2010

Calling Prejudice To the Stand

Yesterdays testimonies in the Perry vs. Schwarzenegger were absolutely explosive! So much so, that I felt they were worthy of their own post rather than tacking them onto one of my Trial Link posts. The quality of witnesses that Olsen and Boies have called have been stellar. We even picked up some awsome testimony from witnesses originally signed to the Defendants (support 8's) side. It was a day of emotional revelations and bombshells...check it out with me...

First up was Ryan Kendall an out gay man from Colorado who's parents forced him to attend reparative therapy. Boutrous is the attorney representing the Plaintiffs (against Prop 8) . Kendall and Boutrous are shortened to K and B respectively. ....Warning...grab your tissues...

0950: Kendall on stand. Grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, born in 1983. Went to Evangelical Christian Academy (ECA). Remember parents talking about homosexuals being evil, seeking special rights. I did not know what it was, but was scared by term.

Boutrous:What is your sexual orientation?

Kendall: I am a gay man! (made me tear up the way he said it.)

C: When did you find out?

K: Always knew I was different. Looked up word at about 12. Knew that was me. Kept it a secret because I was scared. Boys called me names in seventh grade: homo, faggot, queer or just gay. I wore glasses. They played monkey in the middle, keep away, until they broke my glasses.

K: Hated to go to school. Remember getting in car, crying and told parents what was going on. Parents took me out of that school. When I was 13 years old, I wrote to myself that I was gay and my parents found it and read it. Parents flipped out, very upset, yelling. I don’t remember a lot of what they said, but it was pretty scary the level of their reaction. I remember my mother telling me I was going to burn in hell.

K: Religious family. Church and God every day part of our lives. It was shocking (what mother said). I was totally stunned. After my parents found out, my home life changed a lot. My mother called me names.

K: Shortly after this incident, I was sent to a Christian therapist for reversal therapy. I was told that the goal was to make me a hetero. I went two or three times. I remember the therapist telling me homosexuality inconsistent with Christian teaching, that my parents did not want me to be gay and that homos were bad people.

K: Therapy did not make me feel better. I was always a good kid, wanted to make my parents proud. Suddenly, they took me to this guy who told me I was a bad person and my parents said I was a bad person. I felt terrible. The therapy did not work. I was still gay. I knew I was gay just like I’m short and half Hispanic and knew those facts would not change.

K: My parents were referred by Focus on the Family, a Christian based org in Colorado Springs. National Organization for Reversal Therapy in Encino. I went to NORTH (Not sure I have this all correct) from 14-16. My entire life changed. Before NORTH, parents put notes in my lunch, made my lunch. After, they abused me emotionally. Mother told me she hated me, that I was disgusting, repulsive. She wished she’d had an abortion rather than having a gay son. She said she wished I’d had Down’s syndrome or been born retarded.

K: Met with Dr. Nicolosi. I’d do over the phone sessions with him for 90 minutes and sometimes flew to CA for in person. I don’t recall much, but remember that Nicolosi said homosexuality is bad for you, your parents want you to change. As a general admonishment, but not specific technique (to convert).

K: I remained religious throughout. At NORTH I was told I had to reject what I was because it was dirty and bad. I reconciled my faith and homosexuality on my own. NORTH was not successful; I was just as gay as when I started. (Stopped at 16). My life had fallen apart. I did not have the world in which I grew up. My faith and family which were both very important to me. I realized that if I did not stop going I would probably have killed myself.

K: When I was 16, I surrendered myself to the Department of Human Services in Colorado Springs. I went in and told caseworker about family and reversal therapy, that if I went back home I’d kill myself. They started separation proceedings.

K: I was a sixteen-year-old kid. I had just lost everything. I walked in and out of jobs and schools. I was extremely suicidal. Turned to drugs to escape. Things did not get better (he’s very choked up). Period lasted 4 or 5 years. Struggle for survival; not able to support myself. When my healthcare ran out, I went to emergency rooms.

K: Now work for Denver PD for over two years. It’s been a long hard journey, but I have fought with every bit of myself to take care of myself, get a job, get a place to live. I have been able to do that.

K: Member of Log Cabin Republicans, Current Chair of Denver GLBT Commission that advises mayor’s office and city. Not here to testify for those orgs. I am here to testify for myself as Ryan Kendall. Nothing here in court shaped by my personal advocacy for gay and lesbian rights. I just told my story.
...And a powerfull story it was Ryan. I wiped tears from my eyes the first time I read it. Besides the obvious bias against gay people and the horrible things done to us that this testimony represents, the Plaintiffs are trying to lay a solid case that discrimination against gays is religiously based and therefor has no "rational basis", as you will see in testimony further below.

Next to take the stand is Dr Gary Segura, a professor of American Politics in the Department of Political Science at Stanford University. His testimony made some valid points about GLBTQ political power that, While depressing, are also quite true. Presented here, are his main points under direct examination by Boutrous...

.....B: Asks if you attended would-be expert witness depos(depostition) from other side and if wrote rebuttals.

S: Did. Here are the three over all conclusions:

1. Gays and lesbians are not able to protect their interests because they do not possess meaningful political power.

2. They are not subject to political exclusion and suffer political disabilities greater than other groups that have received suspect class protection.

3. The opinions of the Proponents expert Dr. Kenneth Miller are fundamentally flawed and incorrect.

....S: By Madison’s definition, gays and lesbians are small faction. We frequently refer to our system of government as Madisonian as distinguished from majoritarianism. Certain that society responds to majority rule, but there are limitations, such as a majority having the power to take voting rights away from a minority.
Having laid that groundwork he then gave us a current picture of the state of Gay and Lesbian political power.....brace isn't pretty...
....*S: No group in American society, including undocumented aliens who are a distant second, that has been targeted by ballot measures (more) than gays and lesbians. Since 1970s, over 200. (they have) Lost 70%. Lost all same sex marriage initiatives. Propositions nationalize. “The initiative process has been the Waterloo of gay and lesbian politics.”
S: (Slide that shows how badly we have been beaten at the ballot). Culture war in the country. Initiative process has been used to get people hot under the collar. They expand the scope of conflict. If your side is not doing well in the legislature, you move to ballot and inflame momentary passions. Ballot measures puts gaya and lesbians in bad position. At end, need 50% + 1. In CA, particularly problematic, because we allow simple majority to pass constitutional amendment. Voters do not look like CA, while legislature does. Allows the issues to be nationalized.
Welcome to NOMs playbook...if you can't bully a state legislature...than take it to the public and exploit there faith and lack of experience with the gay community. Use lies and tortured logic to whip them into a frenzy then direct them at a ballot box....rinse and repeat as neccesary.

Segura then goes on to discuss the factors that lead to his assertion that gays and lesbians have so little political pull.....again....take a deap breath first, your gonna need it...

.....S: Yes. Religion is the chief obstacle for gay and lesbian political power. After government, (it's)difficult to think of more powerful institution than religion in America. Allows people to meet every week. Largely arrayed against gays and lesbians. Different than for AAs(African-Americans), because except for Baptists, nearly every religion favored civil rights.....
The Closet:
.....S: I think that the psychology of closet are so relentless and insidious. They do vary across country and racial and economic groups and social status. Self-identification in lower status job, living in plains state or south, still detrimental. If you can’t self-id, you are not available for political mobilization. If you are in the closet, you won’t go to a gay rights march. If you are in the closet, it’s harder to have information about what to do. Harder to mobilize because you can’t find each other....

Which is why, dear readers, the internet is so awsome. We don't have to be that alone anymore. lets hear it for Netroots!.... moving on....

Lack of knowledge of who Gays and Lesbians as contributing to homophobia:

S: Public sees only gays and lesbians in larger cities. Public thinks that all gay men have advanced degrees. People who are in the closet are likely to be lower status. Public has a misperception of the level of treatment of gays and lesbians. Not every gay man is Will from Will and Grace. Will is an attorney in NY with a large apartment. When people see this, they think gays don’t need protection. Makes public less sympathetic. Makes public view numbers of gays and lesbians as smaller, which diminishes their political power.

....*S: One of the campaign ads said "that at school today, I was told that I could marry a princess, too". Underlying (message) is that people are being told that if 8 does not pass, (homosexuality) will be taught in school. Underscores that homosexuality is not to be talked about positively or even neutrally because it is evil.

S: (This)Lowers familiarity with gays and lesbians. If public does not know what gays and lesbians have done or who they are, reduces political power because they are not taken as seriously when they speak up, not seen as desirable coalition partners. Easier to target people who never do anything (perceived).

Here here! As one of the non-priveledged mentioned a sorta quiet life I commend Segura for putting that forward. We are everyone..and from everywhere. While we have our "Wills" we also have a lot of gay men and women that are not anywhere near his status. We are right there, in the trenches, with everyone else. Next he moves on to our .....

Allies:...(yeah right)....
B: (Gays and Lesbians) Have allies in CA. Isn’t that power?

S: It’s nice to have allies and if those allies are reliable, even better. There is sense that those allies retreat when it’s tough. If you think of major groups in society outside of commercial enterprises, you think of military, church, Republican and Democratic Party. Dems say they support homos, but Democrats passed DADT and DOMA. Current president has refused an order from the chief judge of the ninth circuit to provide domestic partner benefits to court employees. Also, filed briefs that support DOMA and has done nothing to repeal DOMA or DADT. This is not a reliable ally.

Next came the bombshell of the day. Not that it is any great surprise to any of us that have been following Prop 8 since the day it was introduced on the ballot but it was sooo awsome to see it put on public record in a court of law.

We were seeing testimony based on documents provided by Prop 8 leadership detailing the extensive involvement of the Catholic Church...certain Baptist Churches, and the Church of Latter Day Saints(LDS) Boutrous was attempting to introduce a document for view by the court and Cooper, of the Defendants, was strenously objecting on the grounds that it was a church document, and producing it would violate the LDS churches constitutional rights. The document in question was found in a file of one of the "core group" of prop 8 Campaign leaders. Sucks for him that he left it there whith all those PUBLIC documents...but oh on...
....Judge: This was a public campaign, out in the open. The people who were out front on it inevitably subject themselves to public scrutiny and to litigation that follows. There is no privilege that attaches to this document as distinct with communication among core group. Continue, Mr. Boutrous.
S: Very close coordination with church, with statements like “this entire campaign is under priesthood direction” is notable. Customary within LDS for volunteers to be approached for support, but here it appears that there is an LDS volunteer in every zip code which is an enviable political organization.

S: Continues reading. “Priesthood leaders will call each stake and leaders by zip code within each ward—potentially working not only with LDS but also non-LDS volunteers.”

S: With respect to Prop. 8 campaign, key talking points will come from campaign, but cautious, strategic, not to take the lead so as to provide plausible deniability or respectable distance so as not to show that church is directly involved. We might look at religious belief as source of opposition and think that some folks would vote their religious conscience, but we would not know that this sort of direct church power is engaged. I have never seen this level of coordination in a political campaign.

Pugno: Objects because document will be revealing.

Judge: Not to make light of this, but the reason people want to produce documents is that they are revealing.

Revealing indead....So the church has no problems bussing their congregants across state lines and donating huge sums of money in another state.... to participate in its governmental precesses....but it doesn't want to be seen as doing so.....sorry guys, but you failed utterly in creating that perception. If this does not reveal religious motivation for Prop 8 and some serious ethics questions...I don't know what will.

 I was astounded that this section of trial wasn't shouted from the rooftops by every gay blog in on the net but the curious silence about it has me wondering if they think nothing will really come of it.

What a blockbuster day in testimony! Read the full transcript at The Courage Campaign Liveblog and stay tuned to tommorows installment where we discuss Maggie Gallagher's take on the events written above...that'll be a hoot.
Wow...reality being spoken in a public forum...I think I might feint dead away...
And like all good experts...Segura was able to show concretely what Gays and Lesbians have been trying to shout from the rooftops about Majority(mob) rule...get your torches and pitchforks ready...(Livebloggers contractions extended by me...hopefully correctly)


  1. is there a link to the video? since you said the "way he said it" made you tearful.

    Sorry if you put it somewhere, but I just read the first few lines LOL, I wanted to post this quick since you just got it up so you could see it soon.


  2. Anon, the court case is being heart in San Francisco, and Bryan lives in Sonoma County, about 20-30 miles north at a guess, so he's probably in the highly-enviable position of being there in person to watch the proceedings.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, Bryan - but I can't imagine you not being there if you had the opportunity!

  3. Well he's got two kids, I'm sure he has lots to do.


  4. @Matt
    I imagine it was not Bryan's commentary about tears, it was the liveblogger's from Courage Campaign.

    Bryan lives in Santa Rosa, if I'm not mistaken, which is 55 miles north from San Francisco.
    Even if he lived in SF, he has a family with two kids, I imagine he has his hands full with everything to sit in the courtroom every day 8 hours a day.

  5. Wow.. I go to lunch for a minute and all hell breaks lose...

    I would love to be there in person but with the kids and Jays work schedules thats pretty much impossible. I'm watching online just like all of you. ..Plus, I'm pretty sure that the courtroom is so packed you couldn't squeeze another living thing in there.


    The tearfull part within the text is the Livebloggers commentary. I tried to leave text intact as much as possible, which meant not removing it.

    The portion outside the blockquoted section is mine ----->"...And a powerfull story it was Ryan. I wiped tears from my eyes the first time I read it."


  6. Silly me, I realized it as soon as I clicked the link to the twitter feed.

    Anyway, thank you so much for posting this. It's not recieving any press coverage whatsoever here (understandable though) so I wouldn't know this is happening otherwise. It's kind of scary because it could lead to either gay marriage being legal nationwide (which would have huge repercussions around the world), or gay marriage being ILLEGAL nationwide...which would be very very serious. I mean, since there's a good chance I study in the US, this could have a huge effect on my future. *bites nails*


  7. Thank you so much for this post and the link; I've unfortunately heard only a couple things about it thus far, and it was great finally hearing a little more about the trial.

    Since you obviously know more about the trial as a whole than I do, I was hoping to ask you if you think that things look favorable of unfavorable for us at this point.

    Oh, and just so you know, awesome has an "e" in it. Sorry if I sound pedantic haha, I don't mean to....

    And finally, I want to say that you and Jay are personal heroes of mine, with all your videos (I'm not ashamed to say that watching the video of your dance at your wedding made cry a little. It was really touching) and how you are actively doing something to make a difference. You guys are amazing!! Thanks for everything you've done!


  8. Bryan, I think, as you have expressed, this public trial with all the information so many people have wanted to deny for so long, and still do, this trial has a lot of healing potential. Being heard for the first time in your life really, all the pain and suffering denied, ridiculed, deliberately hidden, mocked, leid about etc, is incredibly freeing it finally gets out there for everyone to be possibly heard and know about. I myself sat here cry at times while reading how bad it was in US and still is, but that history of gay violence, discrimination and sheer religious hatred blew me away. Many things I read did. Im so happy for you Americans to have this trial and finally a great opportunity to be heard and where the many lies youve been victim of are being refuted, one by one. And its real good evidence to use against any future lies about homosexuals, or next props coming up. And Olson and Boies are so very good, they are the best. And the evidence now of all these religious groups and even NOM all being connected, wow! I still dont dare to think you could win, but it all looks so very good, I would be stunned if not. I saw on various blogs people find this trial very healing, I hope that continues. Summer x

  9. This is excellent. Thank you for the news. They are articulating a lot of the issues that I am not aware of or don't have the cogency to quite put together in an organized way even if I am aware those issues are going on. Besides being great for political reasons, hearing these things is great for general education including my own about the issues.

  10. Thank you for your post fallowing and updating on the prop 8 trial. It has made is so helpful to be able to keep abreast with what is going on!

  11. Jay, Bryan great reporting. I also have seen this not being posted on the blogs as much, even on 365gay.... It is as if we either dont want equality, or we are so tired, kicked around, and miserable we dont even care anymore. If you want my honest opinion I think they are thinking what a majority of us LGBT have come to accept. Which is... despite mountains of scientific evidence, tons of clergy that support us, extremely touching logical and emotional appeals, because of a few extremely wealthy and privileged religious groups we will never achieve equal rights, maybe somewhat equal, but never full equal rights.

    While i know this aspiration is entirely false... it does seem true with these times of dire tribulation and oppression. Either way... I say we have a better chance flipping a one sided coin with heads, and calling heads for losing the case, and hoping it lands and stays vertically on its side.

    Let us just hope the elasticity of the metal in this two headed coin gives it enough bounce to land on its side, even for a while before the USSC strips us of our marriage rights in appeal.

  12. I think that there are two big reasons why you don't see alot of detailed coverage in the blogosphere.

    1) The courage campaign and others have done such a fine job of reporting that to add anything to what they have done is nigh impossible. After all...they are in the courtroom when the rest of us couldn't get in even if we bribed the bailif.

    However...there have been many blogs doing an awsome job of keeping us informed and I link their twitter feeds and liveblog sessions everymorning. Whithout them, we would have nothing.

    2) As for 365gay and the like I would seriously look at who owns them. Corporate conglomerates have a long history of burying our news...365 being owned by CBS?...and then who owns them?

    I just watched "Outrage" which has a great deal to do with my attitude tonight(I'm pissed!)...and it has thoroughly lived up to its title....I intend to write about what I saw in tomorrow post.

  13. As for whether or not we will when this case is anybodies guess....While Olsen-and Boies have made an awsomE case, I have seen too many elections that we "assumed" would win...go down in flaming defeat.

  14. How is reversal therapy (or conversion/reparative) therapy any different than the "gay agenda", in which they are supposedly trying to assimilate people and turn them gay?

    Is this not an attempt at heteros turning gays hetero, thus spreading the hetero agenda?

    So, first, even though 95% of all pedophiles are hetero, and many clergy are amongst the list of pedophiles, we blame the gays for pedophilia.

    Now, when absolutely no gay has ever tried to convert anybody, and we have groups like "Focus on the Family" trying to convert gay people into heteros, then, again, we blame the gays for an assimilation agenda?

  15. Thanks for the reply, it was pretty awEsome (sorry, I shouldn't have brought it up in the first place) to hear from you. I guess all I can do is hope for this trial to go differently. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

    Take care,