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Prop 8 Trial Liveblog: Thursday Morning 1 (30)

Good morning. Today we’re going to begin with the remainder of cross-examination of Stanford political science professor Gary Segura, with D-I attorney Mr. Thompson doing the questioning.

I’ve been having a bit of trouble getting the video up, but I have tape of the press conference from yesterday afternoon of plaintiffs attorney Ted Boutros discussing the explosive evidence revealed yesterday, about the close coordination between religious groups and the Prop 8 campaign. He called it a “smoking gun,” and he’s right. I was talking with a traditional media reporter yesterday, and he said, “Didn’t we know about all that coordination,” but the answer is no. Not to that extent. And any campaign will tell you that if your independent expenditures are delivering the same message and not getting in the way or duplicating ad placement, that helps tremendously. So this level of coordination shows the power imbalance at play against the LGBT community in these kinds of ballot initiatives, a key point of the lawsuit. The political significance, of the bigfooting of practically the entire national religious hierarchy, is huge as well.

I’ll try to get the video to you later, I’m flying solo this morning so I’ll be manning the liveblogging presently.

OK, we’re off. Thompson cross-examining Segura.

T: I want to talk about political assets available to LGBT community in Prop 8 campaign. DiFi advocated defeat of Prop 8?

S: Yes.

T: She’s popular?

S: It waxes and wanes, yes?

T: Boxer, Schwarzenegger opposed Prop 8?

S: Yes, but Schwarzenegger vetoed gay marriage.

T: On the grounds that it violated Prop 22.

S: Not sure about that.

T: Jerry Brown opposed?

S: Don’t know.

T: Any statewide leaders supported?

S: Not sure.

T: President Obama opposed?

S: Yes, but he repeatedly said marriage was between a man and a woman and his voice was used by Yes on 8. His

T: Speech was at Saddleback church, where marriage was between a man and a woman?

S: Not sure.

T: Words used by Yes on 8?

S: Someone.

T: Was that effective?

S: I do think that was effective. Sent a misleading signal that the then-candidate was in favor of the issue.

T: Bill Clinton opposed?

S: Yes.

T: Popular figure in CA?

S: Not sure that’s still true, but true at the time.

T: Any former President supporting Prop 8?

S: Not sure.

T: Here’s an EQCA press release. Says Levi-Strauss joined PG&E as co-chair of no on 8 campaign, Equality Business Council. Do you know how much they donated?

S: No.

T: Here’s the press release, saying PG&E gave $250,000 to No on 8. Do you know of any contribution of like size to Yes on 8 from a corporation?

S: Not that I know of.

T: Was this a political asset?

S: $ were political asset. Don’t know if PG&E sways voters.

T: Can celebrities sway voters?

S: Remains to be seen, maybe.

T: Ellen DeGeneres opposed?

S: Yes, but she’s an affected party.

T: Brad Pitt?

S: No reason to doubt that.

T: Any celebrity supported passage of Prop 8?

S: Don’t off the top of my head. But there are lots of conservative celebrities. Wouldn’t surprise me if one did favor Prop 8.

T: Any celebrity publicly went out and campaigned for Prop 8?

S: Don’t know.

T: You talked about religious organizations arrayed against LGBT groups. Number of progressive religious organizations support LGBT rights, yes?

S: Yes, some smaller denominations.

T: Here’s an amicus brief. There are hundreds of communities of faith and religious leaders who supported right of same-sex marriage.

S: As I said, there’s a bit of intellectual dishonesty here. We have to evaluate this on the basis of the relative size of the groups. This includes individual organizations, like Unitarian Universalists, UCC, etc. This represents 2% of the public. The forces for Prop 8 represented over 1/3 of the population. Hundreds of congregations vs. thousands of congregations.

T: Lutherans opposed, Episcopalians opposed?

S: Some bishops and Espicopal parishes, but they cannot endorse political campaigns.

T: Some Episcopal parishes opposed Prop 8?

S: Some also threatened to leave the church because of supporting gay rights.

T: How many Americans members of the LDS church?

S: 2-3%

T: Some ads opposing Prop 8 included religious groups, yes?

S: Yes.

T: This is a document from Unitarian Universalist Church of Pasadena, describes a rally. There were rallies by religious groups opposing Prop 8?

S: Yes, but I would consider the relative size of the crowds at opposition and supporting rallies.

T: Here’s a document, says “UCC Church takes stand against Prop 8.” Says First Congregational Church of Berkeley has been opposing Prop 8 for several months, with phone banks and rallies. It’s true there were phone banks?

S: In some instances. I would once again elaborate that UCC is less than 1% of the US population. A church in Berkeley opposed to Prop 8, the mind reels.

T: Here’s a document of churches raising money for No on 8 campaign.

S: Yes, that’s true, with my aforementioned qualification.

T: Here’s a document describing the annual meeting of the Unitarian Universalist church. This makes reference to the UULM – Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry. Says that UULM managed progressive religious opposition to Prop 8. So they were managing a statewide organization, correct?

S: There was an effort, according to this paragraph. It doesn’t supply evidence about the strength of that effort.

T: Here’s a press release from the United Methodist church. “Faith Leaders From Across State to Speak Out Against Prop 8.” Says inter-faith gatherings held to stand against Prop 8 in multiple cities. There was a widespread geographic effort for these inter-faith services?

S: Yes, but can’t speak about relative size.

Walker: Can we move this along? A tad repetitive.

T: I have one more document. Here’s a document from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Talks about famous people of faith, religious leaders against Prop 8 and on behalf of LGBT community. True?

S: Yes, but directly above that, it says that weekly religious participation was significantly associated with support for Prop 8. Should read document in its entirety. Says that LGBT community has a problem with religion.

T: OK, you said one aspect of political opportunity structure is dislike for a group.

S: Yes.

T: None of your warmness reading related to California?

S: Yes.

T: More LGBT in CA than anywhere?

S: Move of everything in CA than anywhere.

T: But higher concentration?

S: Don’t know, but it’s plausible and even likely.

T: Could be because LGBT move to CA because it’s a better climate with better protections for them?

S: Plausible, we do have more protections.

T: True that many gays and lesbians supported domestic partnerships in CA in 2005?

S: As opposed to no option, yes.

T: This is a press release from Equality CA. Here’s a quote from Geoff Kors of EQCA. Says that Gray Davis honored all families by signing domestic partnership law. True that LGBT thought it honored all families.

S: Again, as opposed to nothing, yes.

T: Here’s a press release for the National Center for Lesbian Rights on AB 205 (domestic partnership). They hailed its signing. So prominent members of LGBT hailed passage of AB 205.

S: Seems to be the case.

T: You talked about initiatives, and percentages of initatives that targeted LGBT community. How many of those were held in California?

S: Not exact number.

T: Percentage that pertained to LGBT held in California, and passed.

S: I don’t know the exact number, I can’t compute the percentage.

T: Here’s a document, called “Lose, Win or Draw: A Look at Direct Democracy and Minority Rights.” You considered this document in your opinions in this case?

S: I did.

T: Any attempt to analyze whether LGBT has done better in CA initiatives recently versus the 1970s?

S: I did not.

T: Here’s an excerpt to “Democratic Theory” by Robert Dahl, who you referenced yesterday. He said, because large majorities are unstable, they are likely to be ineffective. Don’t you see this at work in places like NH and VT, where legislature is passing same-sex marriage laws?

S: I noticed the state of Maine didn’t get included, and I think it’s illustrative. Dahl is saying that majorities come and go, they’re momentary, they’ll fade. But on some initiatives, majorities can be quite stable. For example, more than half of everyone finds same-sex relationships to be always wrong. That majority has been in place for an exceedingly long time. A critique of Dahl’s pluralist theory is that some majorities do not fade. That breaks down rotation in office. So this paragraph is out of context.

T: Here’s a paper, “Gay Rights in the States”. You used this document in reaching your opinions?

S: Yes.

T: Page 303. Says, “LGBT rights are not particularly disadvantaged in states with majoritarian institutions.” You relied on this article.

S: I did. But they’re talking about legislatures. This is not an analysis of whether the policy endures.

T: Sometimes LGBT can keep measures off the ballot.

S: Implies an agency I am not familiar with. Would depend on specifics.

T: Was adoption of Prop 8 a manifestation of political obstacles confronted by gays and lesbians in CA?

S: Yes. A single election result or a single piece of legislation isn’t a conclusion, though, but a piece of evidence.

T: And gays and lesbians in CA have trouble with religiously inspired opposition.

S: That’s accurate.

T: Some people voted for Prop 8 because of Biblical literalism?

S: Yes.

T: Some voted for Prop 8 because their churches would be compelled to give same-sex weddings?

S: They were led to believe that.

T: Some voted for Prop 8 because of opposition to activist judges.

S: That argument has been used. They decry judicial activism. I’m not sure whether that penetrates into the general public. Can’t say how many believe that.

T: You talked about role of religion and how it informs views on same-sex marriage.

S: Yes.

T: We have evidence that religious views shape public policy. Religion a predictor of political behavior and partisan ID, yes?

S: Yes.

T: Religious belief and identity part of voting.

S: Mr. Thompson, have you switched sides? Yes.


S: Expert report to which I was replaying said there was an alternative explanation. He said religious beliefs were connected to a non-religious reason for voting for Prop 8. I found that logic wanting.

T: What percentage voted for Prop 8 because of religious convictions? Hard to arrive at an estimate?

S: Always uncertainty around estimates of social phenomenon. Could use polling and surveying. Could use campaign messaging. Needs time and resources.

T: But you don’t have an opinion.

S: I can’t make a numerical estimation.

T: But forgetting numerical point, you don’t know if it’s greater than 50%?

S: I don’t have a basis to make an estimate.

T: Some religious denominations voted in favor of Prop 8?

S: Yes.

T: Mormons, evangelicals oppose same-sex marriage?

S: Yes.

T: Reasonable to assume that religion is a motivating force for voters.

S: I look at a variety of factors. Difference across intensity of belief, attendance at church. Can assess religiosity. In my report, there’s a positive association between religiosity and opposition to same-sex marriage. Some sects are more opposed, some more mixed, some not an issue.

T: In your rebuttal report, page 13. You break down support of gay marriage by religious sect. You have 0% of Muslim community supporting.

S: Yes, but only 5 impressions. Small Muslim community, not totally reliable.

T: Is there a correlation between Muslim community and gay marriage?

S: Seems plausible.

T: 0% of Hindus support same-sex marriage. Reasonable to conclude a correlation?

S: Probably.

T: Quakers, 100% supported same-sex marriage.

S: All three of them. Small data set.

T: Correlation between faith and position?

S: Among that small subset, it’s reasonable to conclude that their religiosity leads to a different conclusion.

T: 80% of Jewish community, in your chart, support gay marriage?

S: yes.

T: Correlation?

S: I would want to look at other measures of religiosity with respect to the community. Reform community may be silent on that subject.

T: Conceivable that some religious people that Prop 8 prioritized rights of children over gay people? Yes or no answer.

S: Yes.

T: How much did Roman Catholic church give to Prop 8?

S: Don’t have an exact number. Documents referred to large numbers, Yes on 8 said they stepped up, Knights of Columbus gave $1.5 million.

T: You don’t know how much Episcopal church gave?

S: No.

T: Don’t know how many organizers Mormon church used? How many campaigned?

S: Document I read yesterday said Mormon church had 20,000 volunteers.

T: Don’t know how many Espiscopalians, Protestants, Jews campaigned?

S: No.

T: Don’t know how many attended religious events in opposition to Prop 8?

S: Don’t know exact number in opposition or support, though I’m told the event in Qualcomm Stadium was quite large.

T: This says that for those who never attended religious service, 48% oppose gay marriage.

S: Yes.

T: So some reasons to support Prop 8 not based in religion?

S: It seems so.

Walker: Could the witness explain this table?

T: Please explain the table, Professor.

S: OK. So Table 1, the American National Election Study asks about religion. Asks religious ID (Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and all others), and then they probe sectarian identity. So second table is more specific.

Walker: So we have columns 1, 2, 3, labeled no recognition, civil unions, and gay marriage.

S: People were asked if they favor same-sex marriage, civil unions, or no government recognition. So percentages are respondents who fell into each of those categories. Sample weighting is applied to percentage of each sect in the country.

Walker: What about the third table?

S: Table 3 asks how important is religion in your daily life? Very much, quite a bit, somewhat, or not at all. So I’m looking at their religiosity, and relating it to their support of same-sex marriage. For people who are not religious, 60.4% favor gay marriage. Among those who are very religious, the number is 21.64%.

Walker: OK, and Table 4?

S: Table 4 captures the question of Biblical literalism. Asks, do you believe Bible is the word of God, the word of God but not literally, or written by men. For those who say it was written by men, 68% favor gay marriage. Those who think the Bible is the word of God, 19% favor gay marriage.

S: Approximately 811 cases out of 2711 say it’s the word of God, about 39%. Final table is support of gay marriage related to frequency of religious observance. Goes from more than once weekly, all the way down to never. For people who never go to church, 52.2% favor same-sex marriage. And for people who go a few times a year, 51.8% favor. People who go to church more than once weekly, only 11.9% favor same-sex marriage.

T: Switching topics. Want to talk about violence and vandalism that took place during Prop 8 campaign. Article called “The Price of Prop 8.” Collects a variety of sources showing vandalism against supporters of Prop 8 and publicly reported incidents of violence.

S: Seems to be the case.

(Objection, says it’s a hearsay document and beyond the scope of the testimony.)

Walker: Didn’t witness testify about the effects of violence in political campaigns.

Plaintiff: Talked about hate crimes.

T: He said Civil Rights Act of 1964 was motivated by violence on Selma, AL bridge. Goes to his conception of political opportunity structure. He said when you resort to violence, the appeal to fairness dissipates.

Walker: I think it’s hearsay, but it seems appropriate, objection overruled. (Just revealed that this document was a Heritage Foundation report)

T: Thank you, your honor. I want to play a TV news story about violence against Prop 8 supporters.

(Playing video, a local news story from San Diego about a scuffle over Prop 8 yard signs. Elderly couple reportedly hit in the face by a neighbor in Carlsbad because of their Yes on 8 sign. Man was arrested.)

T: Elderly lady had a bandage over her eye because of her yard sign. Does that dissipate support for LGBT rights?

S: It’s certainly an inflammatory image. Not desirable. Don’t know specifics, didn’t hear other person’s story, seemed to have been trouble between neighbors over time. Certainly wouldn’t be favorable to those opposed to Prop 8.

Boutros objects, no foundation for what prompted the altercation.

Walker: We’re not adjudicating what happened in San Diego. So video is admissable.

T: Here’s a story from website, November 4, 2008. It says disputes over Prop 8 campaign signs in Carlsbad left one behind bars. A jogger spotted two men removing Yes on 8 signs. Witness confronted thieves, one man hit witness and broke his glasses, then they ran off with his companion. Would this incident diminish political support for LGBT community.

Boutros: Objection, vague question.

Walker: Overruled.

S: Don’t know about veracity, but yes, this would dissipate support for LGBT community and Carlsbad.

T: Another story, “Prop 8 supporter violently attacked for distributing yard signs.” Assailant grabbed man’s Yes signs, punched him in the left eye and ran off. Would this story diminish support for LGBT community.

Boutros: Irrelevant, hearsay.

Walker: Overruled.

S: Source of the story is, don’t know the readership of the International Business Times, hard to describe veracity.

T: San Jose Mercury News story from October 2008. Family had Yes on 8 signs on front lawn. Their friends had their garage doors spray-painted with “No on 8.” The rear window was also spray-painted. Would this diminish support.

S: No on 8 campaign condemned vandalism and activities of this kind. Would dissipate but diminished support is ameliorative.

T: Politically kryptonite, right?

S: Politically disadvantageous, but no reason to doubt No on 8.

T: Another video. “Vandals Target Downtown Fresno Church”

Boutros objects, they watch anyway.

(Video about offices and sanctuary of Fresno church being egged.)

T: Are you aware of the fact that the Mayor of Fresno and pastors received death threats?

S: No knowledge of that.

T: Would that diminish the support and appeal to fairness of LGBT community.

S: Yes, but I cannot attribute or verify anything about the threats.

We’ve come to a convenient stopping point.

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David Dayen

David Dayen