Thursday, August 19, 2010

David Blankenhorn didn't mess up Prop 8 defense because it was already messed up

It's so interesting to watch members of the religious right try to recreate the Prop 8 trial so as to make themselves look like the victims of the verdict.

The latest attempt is byJennifer Roback Morse of the Ruth Institute in regards to a witness called by the Prop 8 side, David Blankenhorn:

. . . After beginning to read Judge Walker’s opinion this morning, I am even less willing to second guess the Protect Marriage team. In particular, I have a renewed respect for David Blankenhorn, the one witness the Proponents of Prop 8 called to testify on the social purpose of marriage.

To answer one preliminary question that I have been asked many times: yes, the Prop 8 legal team did consider using me as an expert. I talked at some length with one of them, and several of the attorneys for the ADF are friends of mine. They certainly know about me, and respect me. The team decided not to use me when they realized that I had been a spokeswoman for the Prop 8 campaign. They concluded (correctly) that the court would not take my opinion seriously no matter what I had to say, or how credibly I said it. Events proved them to be correct.

Reading the judge’s opinion makes it clear that he defines “expertise” so narrowly that no one but the plaintiffs’ witnesses could meet the definition of expert. The Proponents of Prop 8 called in a political scientist, for instance, to argue that CA gays and lesbians are not politically powerless. Living in CA since 1996, I find it hard to believe that anyone doubts the power of the Gay Lobby. But, the plaintiffs attacked him because he had not studied gay politics in particular, just political parties and initiatives in general. The Judge completely bought the Plaintiffs’ assessment and found the “Miller’s opinions on gay and lesbian political power are entitle to little weight.” (pg 54 of the opinion)

But the Plaintiffs’ abuse of David Blankenhorn, and the Judge’s acquiescence in that abuse, was really something awful. David has mastered an expansive amount of data from a variety of disciplines on the impact of fatherlessness on children, on the significance of family structure, and on the importance of marriage to society. More than any single individual, David brought the issue of fatherless families to the attention of the public. Given academic specialization, no one person could have produced all that material, which is the standard that the Judge seems to require.

I can very easily read between the lines of Walker’s opinion, and see him trying to trap David into admitting things which sound damaging. For the most part, these “damaging” admissions are remarks taken out of context, often a context in which David was trying to be generous to his opponents, and trying not to overstate the applicability of the data before him. The Proponents’ attorneys extracted comparable admissions from the Plaintiffs’ witnesses, but somehow none of those admissions damaged their credibility in Judge Walker’s eyes. He finds that the “opinions of Blankenhorn to be unreliable and entitled to essentially no weight.”

So according to Morse, Walker had the "fix" in and was determined to smear any pro- Prop 8 witnesses and Blankenhorn turned out to be the "sacrifcial lamb."

Poppycock. Of course Morse doesn't go into details as just how Blankenhorn was "trapped" and it doesn't surprise me. Folks on her side of the argument never deal with the concrete, only the idealistic.

As we all know, the case put forth defending Prop 8 was weak. Darla Lithwick from The Slate said the following:

It's hard to read Judge Walker's opinion without sensing that what really won out today was science, methodology, and hard work. Had the proponents of Prop 8 made even a minimal effort to put on a case, to track down real experts, to do more than try to assert their way to legal victory, this would have been a closer case. But faced with one team that mounted a serious effort and another team that did little more than fire up their big, gay boogeyman screensaver for two straight weeks, it wasn't much of a fight. Judge Walker scolds them at the outset for promising in their trial brief to prove that same-sex marriage would "effect some twenty-three harmful consequences" and then putting on almost no case.

Walker notes that the plaintiffs presented eight lay witnesses and nine expert witnesses, including historians, economists, psychologists, and a political scientist. Walker lays out their testimony in detail. Then he turns to the proponents' tactical decision to withdraw several of their witnesses, claiming "extreme concern about their personal safety" and unwillingness to testify if there were to be "recording of any sort." Even when it was determined that there would be no recording, counsel declined to call them. They were left with two trial witnesses, one of whom, David Blankenhorn, founder and president of the Institute for American Values, the judge found "lacks the qualifications to offer opinion testimony and, in any event, failed to provide cogent testimony in support of proponent's factual assertions." Blankenhorn's credentials, methodology, lack of peer-reviewed studies, and general shiftiness on cross examination didn't impress Walker.

Sorry Morse. You can't recreate the truth with a tissue of lies.  Blankenhorn was on a sinking ship from the very beginning and all he did was bore more holes into the hull.

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Will Homocon feud show us 'the real Ann Coulter?' and other Thursday midday news briefs

Ann Coulter Smacks Back: WorldNetDaily Editor Joseph Farah Is “Swine” and “Publicity Whore” (UPDATED) - The feud with Ann Coulter and the speech at "Homocon" vs. World Net Daily has been fun to watch. And it reminds me of the following from The Boondocks. One wonders is it the "real Ann Coulter:"

And in other news:

NOM borrows two cents from Ohio waitress' tip - Okay it's stuff like this which caused the pro-Prop 8 side to lose.

UK: Adoption charity can't ban gay couples - If a good home can be provided for a child then why prevent it? It's not about an abstract idea of "family" but the reality that we must support all good families.

Anti-Gay Group Sues To Kill Wisconsin Domestic Partnership Registry - This is just meanspirited.

After GOP Rebuke, Jeremy Walters Apologizes For Anti-Gay Comments - Just more proof that there are too many self-appointed secretaries of God running around.

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Surprise! Surprise! National Organization for Marriage doesn't like same sex families

Another video from the National Organization for Marriage's failed summer tour. This time, the president of NOM, Brian Brown is interviewed. Or rather not interviewed. It's contentious to say the least. But as I watched the interview, I consoled myself with the fact that Brian's so-called feisty attitude yet again underlines why the Prop 8 folks lost in court. You can't be feisty in front of a judge in lieu of having facts.

But one thing which strikes me is how Brown dances around the question of same-sex families. Apparently they seem to not to count as "regular families" to him.

Past related posts:

Satan is behind gay marriage - gotta love those lovely National Organization for Marriage supporters

' Gay families aren't real families' - a NOM supporter further sinks their phony guise of love

A little ' state-sanctioned sodomy' for your Sunday night 

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