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Prop. 8 trial: Closing arguments end as judge presses both sides

Closing arguments concluded Wednesday afternoon in the Proposition 8 trial with more pointed questions from U.S.  District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who is presiding over the landmark proceedings to determine the constitutionality of California’s ban on gay marriage.

When court resumed after the lunch break, Charles Cooper, attorney for proponents of the measure, told Walker that the “marital relationship is fundamental to the existence and survival of the race. Without the marital relationship, society would come to an end.”

That relationship, he said, is between a man and a woman and its main focus is procreation and “channeling” the sexual behavior of heterosexuals into “stable, marital unions.”

Walker continually pressed the sometimes flustered Cooper on just what marriage means and why the state should care about it. Why does the state regulate marriage, he asked. Do people get married to benefit the community? Why doesn’t the state just consider it a private contract?

Walker: “Why is it that marriage has such a large public role? What is the purpose?”

Cooper: “This relationship is crucial to the public interest.… Procreative sexual relations both are an enormous benefit to society and represent a very real threat to society’s interest.”

Walker: “Threat?"

Cooper: “If children are born into the world without this stable, marital union … both of the parents that brought them into the world, then a host of very important, very negative social implications arise.... The purpose of marriage is to provide society’s approval to that sexual relationship and to the actual production of children.”

Walker: “But the state doesn’t withhold marriage from people who cannot have children.”

Cooper: “It does not.”

Walker: “Are you saying the state should?”

Cooper took Theodore Olson, attorney for the gay and lesbian couples who filed suit against Proposition 8, to task for claiming that Californians could support the ban on same-sex marriage only “through irrational or dark motive, some animus, some kind of bigotry.”

He called Olson’s characterization a “slur” on the millions of Americans who voted for the ballot measure in 2008 and “a slur on 70 of 108 judges who have upheld as rational the decisions by voters and legislators to preserve the traditional definition of marriage.”

Olson’s viewpoint, Cooper said, “denies the good faith of Congress, of state legislature after state legislature and electorate after electorate.”

To which Walker responded: “If you have 7 million Californians, 70 judges and this long history, why in this case did you present but one witness? ... You had a lot to choose from. One witness, and it was fair to say his testimony was equivocal.”

A ruling in the case is expected sometime this summer

-- Maria L. La Ganga at federal court in San Francisco

Comments () | Archives (120)

I have never understood the propensity for some people to get their knickers in a twist over things that don't actually affect them.

Anti-gay marriage supporters continually yammer that gay marriage will destroy marriage. How would that happen? In the states where gay marriage is legal, there have been no news reports of heterosexual couples having their marriage licenses burst into flames and their wedding rings vaporize.

What this all really boils down to is taxation and citizenship. If all citizens pay taxes, then they all HAVE to be considered equal. We are all entitled to pursue happiness as we see fit. So if gay citizens are going to be denied the same right to pursue happiness as their straight neighbors, then their tax responsibilities should be lowered accordingly.

Imagine if you went to Disneyland, paid the same high admission price as everyone else, and then were barred from a few of the rides. Wouldn't you find that patently unfair? Of course you would So if gay folks can't ride Pirates of the Caribbean and the Matterhorn, then by God they should pay a lower admission price.

To Julian Lee,

Where did you get your info about indigenous peoples thoughts on gay people? I'm Kanienkeha:ka, that's Mohawk for white poeple. In our culture, as in many other Native American cultures, gay people were considered half man, half woman and that they had the ability to see things, because of their duality, that the rest of the people could not.
To those idiots who say homosexuality is a choice, who in their right mind would pick to become a target of hate and even violence. It would be like a white guy wanting to be black in Alabama in the 50's!

"Gay marriage" is an attempt to force the normal population to put what goes on in the men's room of the local bus station with marital sex. As with other absurd ideas, the mere act of debating the idea elevates it to a level that it doesn't deserve. Just say "no!".

I like all the why questions like a little kid. It is funny how the opposition lawyer acted. Useful idiot. He is funny. Crying like a little baby. The elephant in the room is he has to put degrade marriage to get it. Kind of like getting his slimy hands on it. Isn't it obvious that marriage is between a man and a women. Gee how stupid are these people. They want is so bad and cry so much. It hurts my ears. They are trying to confuse the issue. They should invent a new word for their unions. Like Kwanzaa then get it put into law.

Mark Pederson:

If you agree to marry your dog, I'll pay for the wedding.

What is the insurmountable barrier between homosexual marriage and sibling marriage? The barrier between a union of two and that of three? The reality is that there isn't much of a barrier at all, is there? However, those unions aren't the "issues at hand"......or are they? Those who advocate for homosexual marriage are arguing that they should be able to marry the one they love. Fine. Yet, what reasonable argument could then deny another from seeking the same right in another type of union outside of boundaries currently being upheld by both heterosexual and homosexual marriage? Therefore, marriage would HAVE to be redefined to allow any kind of union. It would be impossible not to go in that direction. That's the Pandora's Box that will certainly ensue.

Society has the right to define marriage. A small minority does not have the right to "change the rules" for their own purposes. I have no problem with domestic partnership or granting legal rights to gay couples. I don't understand the obsession of the gays with the "M" word. Gays have been brilliant in their incremental strategy. Years ago, their agenda was not marriage, it was domestic partnership. Once they won that right, they went on to the next priority. Prop 8 proponents are not denying any right to gays, they simply desire to maintain a historic, traditional definition of marriage.

The logic of the Prop 8 in all its glory is right here: Apparently gay marriage threatens all procreation and, as we all know, there's a baby shortage in America. Oh wait, no, actually our country has so many kids we can't afford to give them all health care, stable housing or a quality education. And more than 40 percent of them are born to unmarried mothers anyway. And of the kids born to straight married parents, more than 50 percent of them will deal with their parents' divorce. But let's make sure we keep considering the couples in the generally loving and affluent gay population completely illegitimate and a threat to children everywhere.

It's the complete lack of logic in this that so many people buy into that astonishes me.

Perhaps all of the people on here who are opposed to gay marriage should consider that two constitutional experts from opposite sides of the political spectrum have joined together to overturn an unconstitutional bad on same-sex marriage. Maybe, just maybe, they understand the US Constitution better than you. Maybe, just maybe, what they are arguing for is actually true and correct.

Now I know you are all riled up that you cannot impose your discriminatory and unjust views on the rest of the world, but maybe, just maybe, there is a reason why Prop 8 will be overturned. Maybe you are all too biased and prejudiced to realize it, but Prop 8 is unconstitutional. You can sit there and yell and scream about judicial activism or liberalism, or whatever you want to blame, but the truth is the culprit is the US Constitution and the freedoms and protections afforded to all.

If you have a problem with freedom, liberty, and equality, then may I recommend moving to North Korea, or Cuba, or Iran? The US Constitution was here long before all of you religious zealots and bigots, and will be here long after all of you.

You have to look at this holistically. Approval of homosexuality is all part of the growing public approval of divorce and sexual relations outside of male-female marriage in general. This approval in turn has released a floodtide of irresponsible behavior that studies show is the number one cause of violent crime and every other dysfunction. The rates have quadrupled exactly in parallel with the sexual revolution of which gay rights is one component.

This trial, as have been all the referenda, and all the actions concerning gay marriage, is about identity. Under what circumstances must a society confer legal identity? Race? Gender? Sexual orientation? Is there such a thing as a Gay American, like there is a Black American, Hispanic-American, etc., or is there merely an American who practices homosexual sex? There is a huge difference. After a few weeks, you can tell whether a fetus in the womb is black, white, male or female. You cannot tell whether it is gay or straight. Prop 8 opponents are asking society to confer legal identity status based on an identity which can only be determined by behavior. I know gays hate the analogy, but under those circumstances, why not confer legal identity status to child molesters? Or homophobes, both of which can claim that their predelictions are genetically determined, with the same amount of scientific evidence gays can muster. Is sexual orientation the same as race? If so, then Judge Walker is about to label well more than half the country and its institutions, such as churches, racist. He should think carefully about that. But judging from the accounts of this trial and his behavior, he probably won't.

This is a waste of time and money. No matter the outcome here it will eventually reach the Supreme Court and there it will be settled.

With the current make up of the USSC the ruling will come down FOR leaving Prop 8 in place and what the majority of Americans view as the sanctity of marriage (It is a Holy Sacrament in the Church) will be upheld.

Gays have civil unions which give them the same rights and privileges as does marriage.

As a poster here opined, The gays want "marriage" to be applied to their civil unions in an attempt to gain a social equality which they believe is being denied them.

"Gay" is a sexual inclination and behavior. Period. Strip away the fantasy political postulate that there is some "gay" identity, and you are left with a group of people who want to enshrine a set of unhealthy and unnatural practices as the equivalent of the life-giving and lifelong union that marriage is supposed to be. Sodomy still sickens or kills, it is the opposite of self giving and life giving.

How does it affect the rest of us? As the language of the pro-homosexualists already shows, it will further marginalize people who have religious or moral objections to supporting the practice. In England, Canada, and even here people who run afoul of pro-homo orthodoxy are sued, fired, suspended etc. Enshrining homosexual "unions" as marriage will only accelerate and further the trend.

Didn't Californians vote down gay marriage twice??? Whether you agree to it or not, the people of California do not want it and their vote should be upheld, unless we really do live in a country where voting doesn't count.

All of you want to be heard, but in reality none of our opinions have any bearing on the truth. What matters is Gods opinion. The fact is God hates what homosuaxuality does, not only to society but also to an individual. You could mock us christians as much as you want, are job is to hate the sin and love the sinner. Homosexuality is a unnatural act in the physical world and a sin against God in the spiritual world.

Frankly, those who engage in homosexual behavior seek to have it both ways. They claim its innate and nothing they can do about it, so...................... then they must accept the innate consequences of such behavior: Inability to procreate. Its really that biologically simple and undeniable. No humans can engage in homosexual behavior and procreate. Marriage is designed for the protection and rearing of children. The protection of assets necessary to raise/rear children. The ability to ensure a continuity of guardianship, etc. Unlike the immutable consequence of age that renders a woman unable to have children after menopause, those who engage in homosexual behavior simply elect to engage in sexual behavior that precludes the ability to have children.

Want children? Want to get married? Then its necessary to engage in the requisite behaviors.

This has been voted on and shot down.....the liberals get the lib judges to approve it if the voters don't.......cry babies!!!

The problem with this whole scenario is that not a darn thing was asked about by the judge has any legal or constitutional bearing. The only issue is whether the law runs contrary to any constitutional provisions. For example, if a state wanted to not recognize any marriage at all, could it do so? Certainly.

Civil Unions affording all the legal rights of marraige are already available to Gays. The ONLY purpose of legalizing gay marraige is to use it as a weapon against churches by charging any priest or pastor with a hate crime if they refuse to marry gays and then using it as an excuse for removing tax exemptions from those churches effectively closing them down. If you don't think this is the end game, quite frankly you are either willfully ignorant or just plain stupid.

I guess to the people of California, your vote doesn't matter! What a joke, our only hope is the San Andreas fault!

Good on this judge! More like him are needed. This is the first time I have seen anyone other than me question why the state has any say at all in what is a religious union. The whole idea of "State" sanctioned marriage "is" a business contract designed to deal out legalities, rights and responsibilities. Church marriage is a promise before God that you will love and care for one another; forsaking all others.

I think most everyone has it wrong. What we should be pushing for is for the state to remove itself from a religious argument and change to a "civil union" approach for all. Frankly if we were really "free" no one would be discussing this anyway. There's nothing constitutional about any of this.

To overturn Prop 8 is the most rediculous expression of an amoral society that I can think of. Of course morality can't be discussed in a court of law because the amoral gays would have a fit if someone told them the truth. America knows this fact and has expressed themselves time and time again. To date the courts have upheld the will of the people. Hopefully this trend will continue.

Hey, Derrick, the Constitution does not define marriage, nor does it regulate it, nor does it give any Federal jurisdiction over States involvement in ANY way to it. But hey, the Federal Goverment doesn't even obey the Constitution, so why should "Constitutional Scholars" care about it either? Your argument is specious.

The end of the story notes that Judge Walker scolded Ted Olson for calling only one witness to testify against Prop. 8 and apparently, said witness wasn't very compelling. I'm shocked that the supposed dream team trial attorneys opposing Prop 8 put on such a weak case.

How many times will California visit this issue? The people don't want it. They have said so. Countless times. Focus on important things like getting your crappy state out of debt... oh tats right, you guys are too busy worrying about what is happening in Arizona... this is why your state is going into ruin.

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