by Andy Pugno - General Counsel on January 13th, 2010
As I mentioned in this morning’s blog, the trial resumed today with testimony by the plaintiffs’ expert witness on the history of marriage in the United States, Professor Nancy Cott. Amazingly, Ms. Cott actually took on the impossible task of describing the American history of marriage without acknowledging that it has, until very recently, been universally understood as only between a man and a woman. Over time, the incidental laws surrounding marriage changed a little here, and a little there. But the definition feature of marriage as a union of the opposite sexes spans most of our nation’s story of the family.
When it was our legal team’s turn to cross-examine her, Ms. Cott made some key admissions in our favor that, I think, greatly damaged the plaintiffs’ case. For example, undercutting our opponents demands that we the people must prove a harmful consequence will happen with certainty if marriage is redefined, in order to justify preserving traditional marriage, the witness admitted that “the consequences of same sex marriage is an impossible question to answer.” She also conceded that the public interest in promoting the raising of children by both a mother and father is served by promoting traditional marriage among opposite-sex couples. And contrary to our opponents’ claim that marriage is purely a private, personal relationship, Ms. Cott admitted on the witness stand that marriage is in fact a very public institution that serves society as a whole.
The notion that Ms. Cott was called to the stand to provide neutral and impartial “expert” testimony was blown wide open when she admitted under cross examination by our defense team that she has long been an active advocate for gay marriage. We exposed the facts that she has lobbied in favor of legislation to legalize same-sex marriage; joined in lawsuits seeking to strike down traditional marriage; and is a key supporter and contributor to a group that actively pushes to “de-construct” marriage in America. In fact, one of the groups that she has financially supported has openly encouraged polyamory, which is a relationship of three or more people in a sexual “group marriage.”
Next, the plaintiffs called to the stand Professor George Chauncey of Yale University to testify as an “expert” about the history of discrimination that homosexuals have felt in America. His testimony included examples of gays and lesbians being arrested and jailed, losing their jobs, being denied access to public accommodations, and suffering as the targets of “hate crimes.” While the history lesson was actually quite interesting, to be sure, it completely lacked any relevance whatsoever to the central question whether the voters of California could reasonably and constitutionally decide to continue traditional marriage.
The day closed with another striking admission by Chauncey elicited by our attorney David Thompson. Chauncey, like Cott, is a gay marriage supporter who has contributed to and assisted several groups advocating for the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Tomorrow, Thompson is expected to continue questioning Professor Chauncey about his views that the slogans and arguments advanced by the ProtectMarriage.com Yes on 8 campaign are just the “latest installment” of invidious discrimination against gays and lesbians.
While it is only day two in what will be a long, grueling trial, we have reason to be positive thus far. We clearly have had their two expert witnesses on the ropes during our cross-examinations, drawing out information from them the plaintiffs surely would have preferred remain unknown.
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