Summary of the Prop. 8 Trial

Summary of the Prop. 8 Trial

Those of us at United Families International are grateful for the wonderful work of those defending traditional marriage in California. The following is a summary of the trial written by Ron Prentice, the executive director of

The live testimony in the federal trial of Perry v Schwarzenegger, the historic court battle over the definition of marriage, finally came to a close yesterday afternoon.

Our lead trial attorney Charles Cooper and the rest of the Prop 8 Legal Defense Team did a superb job defending the will of the voters and the institution of marriage itself under extremely difficult circumstances in this San Francisco courtroom. As we consistently saw in most of the critical pre-trial rulings, virtually all of Judge Vaughn Walker’s significant rulings during the trial went against us.
For example, Judge Walker’s insistent efforts to broadcast the trial proceedings worldwide on the internet, in violation of federal laws, caused two-thirds of our expert witnesses to withdraw from the case just before the trial started. Quite understandably, these experts were fearful of the likely harassment and retribution they would suffer, personally and professionally, if their live testimony was broadcast worldwide as Judge Walker had ordered. As the trial started, the cameras were still rolling and there was no way to guarantee the witnesses that their testimony would not be broadcast. Even though the US Supreme Court later overruled Judge Walker and prohibited the broadcasting of this case, it was too late.
The loss of four witnesses put tremendous added pressure on our team of defense attorneys to find other ways to get our critical evidence into the record. So during over 30 hours of our cross-examination of the plaintiffs’ witnesses, our attorneys succeeded in moving key studies, statistics, reports and other evidence into the record, and obtaining critical concessions from the other side’s witnesses on many subjects, such as child-rearing and monogamy. Thankfully, our legal team was extremely successful in this regard.
After weeks of 20+ hour days, our attorneys finally were able to get a good night’s rest. We appreciate your prayers for them and your words of encouragement. Starting today, they will be working for the next 30 days to submit additional briefings to the judge. They will also start preparing to go back before Judge Walker sometime in March to present final closing arguments. And then we will await the court’s ruling.
No matter how Judge Walker rules, all sides agree that this is just the first stage in a much longer journey that will ultimately end at the U.S. Supreme Court. No matter which side wins this first legal test, the case is surely to be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and eventually to the nine Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Even though the live testimony has ended, we must continue our efforts to secure the resources needed for a strong legal defense of Prop 8. Please help us with your own contribution, and forward this email to your friends and colleagues who themselves might make a donation. Our outstanding legal bills are substantial and the ongoing fight will be expensive.
Every person involved in our legal defense has made tremendous sacrifices. Lead trial counsel Charles Cooper and his team from the Cooper & Kirk law firm have done a spectacular job. Special thanks is also due to the excellent attorneys of the Alliance Defense Fund who donated literally thousands of hours of legal work as part of the defense team.
In particular, we are also extremely grateful to our own General Counsel, Andy Pugno, whose wife is due to deliver their third child any day now. Not only has he worked tirelessly for months on end and represented us ably in the courtroom, his entire family has paid a price as Andy has been fighting for the institution of marriage. We owe him, and his family, a debt of gratitude.
Below is a statement Andy released to the media late yesterday about the case. It’s an excellent summary of how this show trial unfolded.

Today concluded the presentation of evidence in the federal trial, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, challenging Prop 8’s definition of marriage as only between a man and a woman. Our Prop 8 Legal Defense Team did a remarkable job in defending the will of over 7 million California voters who passed it into law.

What may be lost in all the sensationalism of the past two and a half weeks of trial is that the burden of proof to invalidate Prop 8 lies squarely with the plaintiffs. They cannot win unless they prove that the voters were “irrational” when they chose to preserve the traditional definition of marriage in our state. Contrary to their public relations claims, the outcome of this case does not depend on whether the Prop 8 sponsors can prove that homosexual marriage will harm traditional
marriage. The controlling legal issue is not whether homosexual marriage is good or bad, but rather whether the people have the right to decide what is best. The plaintiffs simply did not carry that burden.

Meanwhile, we have shown that limiting marriage to its longstanding definition is rational because marriage benefits children, not just the adults. Whenever possible, it is best for a child to have both a mother and a father. And man-woman marriage is the only human relationship that can biologically serve that distinctive purpose. A same-sex relationship can never offer a child both a mother and father. It’s that simple.

The plaintiffs put on a spectacular show-trial of irrelevant evidence, calling to the stand many “expert” witnesses to testify that allowing homosexual marriage would: help local governments raise more tax revenues, help gay and lesbian couples to accumulate greater wealth, and improve the self-esteem of homosexuals. But those are political arguments for society to consider, not legal support for the claim that the US Constitution contains the right to homosexual marriage. The courtroom is simply not the proper forum for what is clearly a social, not a legal, appeal.
Thank you for your continued help through prayer, financial support, encouragement, and spreading the word. We – all of us – are responsible for the shape of our society when we hand it off to future generations.


Ron Prentice, Executive Director
  • David Scott
    Posted at 10:15h, 30 January

    It should go without saying that a person should be allowed to marry whomever they choose. Until the right-wing, religious fanatics in this country stop trying to control everybody else and force their “morals” down the throat of the country, there can be no real freedom in the United States. Civil rights cannot simply be “voted away,” that is the purpose of the Bill of Rights. Religious activists should be left out of these decisions completely.

  • United Families International
    Posted at 21:43h, 30 January

    Hey David, welcome to our blog, it seems like you’ve loved it.

    I want to address some of your concerns about the fight for traditional marriage. I don’t think allowing anyone to marry whomever they want should go without saying. Think of all the possible marriage options: polygamous, incestuous, marrying a minor (with or without consent), marrying an animal. I don’t think those sort of marriages would benefit our society, and I’m guessing you don’t either.

    Also, hate and religious beliefs are not the ONLY motives for opposing homosexual marriage (although it’s often painted that way). Other motives include: protecting the foundation of our society, the family; preserving the ideal child-raising atmosphere that children deserve.

    If you’d like to see just how much more beneficial it is for children to be raised by their biological parents–check out the countless studies that compare step parents to biological parents. And remember, if a homosexual couple is raising a child, one of them has to be a step parent.

  • Scott L.
    Posted at 01:52h, 31 January

    I’m amazed at some of the rhetoric associated with the opposition to traditional marriage. “Right wing religious fanatics?” I live in California and I can assure the rest of the world that label does not apply to the majority of Californians that have an opinion on this issue. That same majority incidentally voted down non-traditional marriage. Personally I think that the VERY liberal state of California could use a few more conservatives as this state is known for it’s liberalism. So obviously it wasn’t just the “Religious fanatics in the right-wing” that made this very important decision. I hate to be the bearer of ill news for the gay legitimization cause but a lot of liberals and moderates voted for Proposition 8 also. Just keep calling them “Right Wing Religious Fanatics” though, it’s sure to alienate them even further.

    Being as the Bill of Rights was mentioned I feel compelled to point out that the authors of the first ten amendments of the constitution were to a man what opponents of Proposition 8 would call “religious”. It’s also a certainty that none of the framers of our Constitution (including those that demanded the Bill of Rights) would have approved the idea that the government they were trying to mold should sanction and legitimize gay marriage. The concept would have been met with sheer incredulity. If they felt that such a position were desirable they certainly lacked showing any sort of support for it.

    I’m equally sure, on the other hand, that they would have totally approved the people of a state, when faced with the issue, determining it’s unsuitability through a peaceful democratic process. I have no doubt they would have heartily approved the outcome of the Proposition 8 vote. If you’re going to advocate for gay marriage the last place you should look for solace is the Constitution of the United States of America.

    Fortunately our Republican Democracy has once again prevailed.

  • Christine Robinson
    Posted at 17:56h, 01 February

    Abraham Lincoln once asked a man,”how many legs does a cow have?”. The man answered, “four”. Lincoln then said, “if you call the cow’s tail a leg, then how many legs would a cow have?”. “Five”, the man said. “No”, said Lincoln, “calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg. A cow has only four legs.”
    There IS NO SUCH THING AS GAY ‘MARRIAGE’. There are homosexual UNIONS, homosexual partnerships, but not homosexual marriages. We cannot be forced into ‘gayspeak’. Consulting adults can do what they want. However, they cannot force everyone else to use their terminology.

  • Ed P
    Posted at 15:09h, 05 February

    I publicly thank all who took part in the defense of proposition 8. Thank-you for your honor, your dignity and courage. It is appreciated.

  • Cal P
    Posted at 10:33h, 16 March

    Christine states unequivocally that : There IS NO SUCH THING AS GAY ‘MARRIAGE’. There are homosexual UNIONS, homosexual partnerships, but not homosexual marriages.

    That is a kind of fascinating viewpoint because I am gay and legally married. Says so right there on the document: Certicate of Marriage

    Methinks some people opposed to same sex marriage live in a world of denial. All the wishing in the world does not change the legality of my marriage or the sincerity of my marriage vows.

  • Scott L.
    Posted at 17:38h, 16 March

    Good for you, Cal P, you can have as many legs on your cow as you want to. And if you can get the government to certify that your cow has five legs we’ll all stand in awe of your amazing cow.

    Or maybe we’ll just go to the polls and stop the government from certifying such ridiculous things.

    There is nothing new under the sun, what was marriage a hundred years ago is still marriage, and what isn’t, isn’t, no matter how you twist cow’s tail, er… I mean leg. No I guess I mean tail after all.

    In any even, you can go on being very proud of your five legged cow. Statistically it’s very likely that your cow will be divorced in a couple years no matter how certified it is or how sincere you are. The one thing you are going to find out no matter what else is that piece of paper doesn’t mean as much as you think it does so enjoy your (fill in the blank ____) legged cow for the time being.

    I don’t know if you live in California but if so, when you do separate from your pal you won’t be able to marry the next one. I can’t wait to see what percentage of gays who married during the brief time it was legal here actually last more than a few years.

    If you don’t live in California then this cow you’re so proud of probably won’t last past the next opportunity at the polls. So far, in every instance where the will of the people has been tested at the voting booth they have decided that there is no such thing as five legged cows or gay marriage.

  • Pingback:Prop. 8 Repeal Effort Failed! « The United Families International Blog
    Posted at 09:44h, 14 April

    […] plans to work with other activists to get another repeal on the November 2012 ballot. Additionally, the constitutional challenge to Prop. 8 is still in the courts, and most likely will be for quite some […]

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