Prop 8 Trial! Day 2 Morning Summary

Prop 8 Trial, day 2 morning summary as reported by Lisa Keen:


The take-home message from expert Nancy Cott’s testimony today was this: The push by gay and lesbian couples to obtain equal access to marriage has done much to improve the status of marriage in the United States, not harm it.

This was not the testimony sought most of the morning as David Thompson, an attorney for the “Yes on 8” campaign, pummeled Cott with questions aimed at discrediting her and trying to form a foundation for the belief that religious have always legitimately influenced society’s notions of marriage.

To discredit Cott, a professor of history at Harvard, Thompson produced a statement that she had signed onto indicating that she supports a variety of forms of families, including “polyamorous” ones involving three or more adults. Cott said she did not know of the term polyamorous when she signed the statement and had only heard about the term in a recent Boston Globe article.

For reasons that are not entirely clear, Thompson also adopted a very dramatic style of questioning Cott to elicit testimony about which colonoies—such as New York and Pennsylvania—which have never had a law barring interracial marriage.

As Cott grew apparently uncomfortable with the questioning, Thompson—rather than try an obtain answers from her directly—began reading statements from books she has written and simply asking, “Correct?” On one occasion, he forgot to ask, “Correct?” and Cott sat silently on the stand until he, at last, looked up at her for a prolonged moment.

“You didn’t ask me a question,” she said.

On another occasion, he read a statement from one of her books and asked her whether she agreed with the statement.

“I wrote it,” she quipped.

Thompson’s style and unusual means for producing cross-examination provoked audible gasps and giggles in the courtroom on occasion, too.

During one exchange, he read from a document from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that reportedly stated that only one percent of babies born in the U.S. in 2004 were conceived using “artificial reproductive technology.” He then asked Cott whether that means that “99 percent of children are the product of a procreative act.”

He asked whether it was true that “one of the distinctive things about Jesus Christ” was that he counseled his followers to pursue only a single partner in marriage. Cott had already, on direct examination, made the point that Christianity had been largely responsible for the development of monogamy as a value.

And he asked Cott whether in the United States, has there ever been a state law “preventing a man with a homosexual orientation from marrying a woman who has a homosexual orientation.”

Cott allowed as there had not been.


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