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Watch Party! Live Reading of Dustin Lance Black’s “8″ Tonight 7:45fdl

1:00 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Watch Here

Tonight, starting at 7:45 on the West Coast (10:45pm east coast time) the American Foundation for Equal Rights will stage an all-star reading of Dustin Lance Black’s “8″ based on the transcripts of the 2010 trial in Judge Vaughn Walker’s courtroom on the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8. We’ll have a watch party right here at this thread at MyFDL to enjoy it together, starting about 7:30pm.

This live Los Angeles production includes such stars as Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Martin Sheen, Kevin Bacon, Matt Bomer, Campbell Brown, Chris Colfer, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Vanessa Garcia, Cleve Jones, Christine Lahti, Jane Lynch, and Matthew Morrison.

Should be fun, with the simultaneity of enjoying the play itself while comparing the performances with our actual memories of the liveblogging and liveblog-reading more than two years ago! I do want to congratulate Judge Vaughn Walker on snagging Brad Pitt as the actor playing him, as I had thought they’d use Brad to play that intrepid front-row Firedoglake liveblogger….

See you tonight!

Appeals Court Ruling on Prop 8 Tuesday

1:01 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

(photo: fallentomato/flickr)

(photo: fallentomato/flickr)

The long-awaited Appeals Court ruling on the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 will be announced tomorrow.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s public information office expects a ruling on Tuesday, Feb. 7 by 10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern Time in the Perry v. Brown case challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8.

Additionally, the court will rule on the demand that then-Chief Judge Vaughn Walker should have recused himself from the trial entirely:

In addition to deciding the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the 9th Circuit plans to rule on gay marriage opponents’ attempt to set aside Walker’s ruling because he did not disclose he was in a long-term same-sex relationship at the time of the trial.

Current Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware rejected that argument last year, but Proposition 8 backers appealed his decision to the 9th Circuit.

Tomorrow will be a big day for equality. Stay tuned to Firedoglake for the latest updates tomorrow.

Prop 8 Trial Videos Will Stay Sealed

11:51 am in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Looks like re-enactments is as good as it gets

A panel of the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals ruled today, unanimously, that the videos made during the Perry v Schwarzenegger trial by then-Chief Judge Vaughn Walker of the proceedings in his courtroom and ordered released by his successor, Chief Judge James Ware, will remain sealed and not viewable by the public, in order to “preserve the integrity of the judicial process.”

Whatever that means.

Apparently, Judge Walker’s announcement long ago to the litigants that the videos would continue to be made for his personal use while crafting his decision and writing his ruling matters more to the Court of Appeals panel than the public’s right to see its own government action, consuming its own tax dollars and deciding about its own lives.

Videos of the San Francisco trial over California’s ban on same-sex marriage must remain sealed, a federal appeals court ruled today, saying the trial judge who authorized the recordings had promised that they would not be broadcast.

“The integrity of our judicial system depends in no small part on the ability of litigants and members of the public to rely on a judge’s word,” said the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 3-0 ruling.

Unless the litigants decide to consume precious donated resources to appeal this ruling to the entire en banc Appeals Court and thence to the US Supreme Court — and really, why would they when the decision has been couched in terms of protecting the precious integrity of the court system, the same court that has allowed warrantless wiretapping and the shredding of the Fourth Amendment? — the American people may never see the trial. Clearly, the most important and highest value to this Court is the integrity of the judicial process, a judicial process that already became a laughingstock in December 2000 when the highest court appointed a president.

But you judges go right ahead and act like that still matters, m’kay? We’ll continue to sit here and stew in the dark while you debate our civil rights with no comprehensive access by the people whatsoever.

No Prop 8 Trial Videos Yet

2:06 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Despite the order earlier this month by Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware to release the videos from the Proposition 8 trial in former Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s courtroom in San Francisco, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered a stay of this order, keeping the videos under wraps while the higher court decides the proponents’ appeal of the videos’ release.

In other words, this sideshow over releasing the videos, based on the fear of the bigots’ attorneys and witnesses that their arguments will be exposed to the light of day, making them look like the foolish bigots they are, continues. The Appeals Court’s time will be taken up over Judge Ware’s order without the videos in public view.

The court set an accelerated schedule for written arguments and a hearing for Dec. 5.

Supporters of same-sex marriage want the recordings made public to show the evidence behind former Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker’s ruling that overturned the 2008 ballot measure, a decision the appeals’ court also is reviewing. The historic two-week trial examined the history of marriage and the nature of sexual orientation.

Opponents of gay marriage insist the recordings should remain sealed because of possible harassment of witnesses who testified for the backers of Proposition 8.

Despite, of course, no reports or evidence of any harassment at all of those who testified or argued the case. Their names appeared in blogs — including this one — and in newspapers and on television throughout the trial, yet none have reported any harassment whatsoever. Fear of their bigoted views being exposed drives this appeal. Nothing else but fear of looking foolish.

From the three-judge panel’s order today:

The parties shall submit simultaneous principal briefs no later than November 14 and reply briefs no later than November 28. The length of these briefs is to be governed by Fed. R. App. P. 32(a)(7). The court will not entertain requests for extension of either the length limitations or the briefing schedule.

The court will hear oral argument during the week of December 5, 2011, in San Francisco, on a date to be determined subsequently. Thirty minutes of argument time is allocated to each side.

The Appeals Court must rule, and soon: these videos are public property and should be available to all to view. No better disinfectant than sunshine.

“8″ — Coming to Broadway

12:41 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

number 8

"number 8" by Leo Reynolds on flickr

Dustin Lance Black, “Milk” screenwriter and Americans For Equal Rights activist, spent the last six months developing a ninety-minute staged reading based on the Prop 8 trial transcripts. His play opens on Broadway in September, with plans to tour the US.

A new play based on the Proposition 8 trial over same-sex marriage in California, written by the Academy Award winner Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”), will be performed in a staged reading on Broadway in September and then produced at Carnegie Mellon University, Northwestern, the University of Michigan, and elsewhere.

DLB hopes the play gets seen by many more Americans than got to see it firsthand, since the Supreme Court ruled televising it was undecorous, or injudicial, or something.

“One of my hopes about the trial was to get the opposition in court, hands raised swearing to tell the truth, and have the world see the opposition called to account for going on TV saying gay people harm children, harm families,” Black said. “Since the trial itself wasn’t heard or seen, I wanted to get that story out another way.”

The Sept. 19 Broadway performance, staged by Tony Award-winning director Joe Mantello, will be followed by later performances at Northwestern University and the University of Michigan, among other venues.

DOMA Repeal Hearing Scheduled: The Real Story, from Ron Wallen

1:52 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Much is being made about the prominent voices who will testify at Senator Leahy’s DOMA hearing next Wednesday, but I wanted to highlight the story of one person directly affected by DOMA who will tell his story to Senators next week. Legally married in California, testimony will be heard from:

Ron Wallen, an Indio, Calif. resident, who married Tom Carrollo in 2008
after being together for 55 years. In March, Carrollo lost his battle to
cancer. After Carrollo’s death, Wallen’s income was compromised because DOMA prohibits him from receiving his spouse’s Social Security payment. Wallen would have been able to receive these payments had he been in an
opposite-sex marriage. According to the hearing notice, Wallen is unable to
make payments on his family home and is faced with selling the residence,
after just losing his spouse.

Celebrity testifiers include Evan Wolfson, the head of Freedom to Marry, who has dedicated his life to this work and has certainly earned a place at the table. Also included is Joe Solmonese, who heads an organization that claims a million members, which entitles him to attend White House cocktail parties where he can show off his Dolce & Gabbana suits. Let’s hope he wears a pretty one for the teevee cameras next week!

But it’s Ron Wallen’s story that needs to be heard. Because it’s the real story of the pain, anguish and theft imposed by DOMA. It’s Ron Wallen who is actually affected by DOMA. It’s Ron Wallen who is losing his home. It’s Ron Wallen who is being hurt by the Social Security Administration’s DOMA restrictions. Here is Ron and Tom’s story.

In NYC, Obama Calls Election Night 2008 “A Perfect Night”

6:53 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Wow, talk about tone-deaf.

Someone really screwed this one up in Obama’s speech tonight to the New York City LGBT crowd. Sudbay:

One thing I thought was very odd for this particular crowd was referring to Election Night 2008 as “a perfect night.” Maybe for him, but we lost rights that night when Prop. 8 passed in California.

My partner and I, who never married in the 2008 window between the California Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality and Election Night 2008, became second-class California citizens that night, along with thousands of other LGBTs who hoped, someday, to marry the person we love.

There was nothing “perfect” about that night for us.

Let’s hope someone in the speechwriting department at the White House omits this characterization by our Evolver-in-Chief before he takes his LGBT fundraising to California. New Yorkers may have let him get away with it, but I don’t think Californians will.

That wound is still too raw.

Full text of the speech after the jump. Read the rest of this entry →

Bigots Will Appeal Ware’s Beatdown Ruling on Walker Recusal

3:21 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge

Must be nice to have an almost unlimited number of bigoted rubes willing to open their wallets whenever h8 comes calling. Case in point: Charles Cooper, losing lead attorney guiding the ProtectMarriage consiglieres to defeat at every single stage of the Prop 8 trial, announced Oh, Hell Yes, They Will Appeal Chief Judge James Ware’s eloquent, swift beatdown of their horrific motion to order Judge Vaughn Walker to recuse himself because, you know what — he’s Ghey! And he has a long-time partner! And he probably, therefore, wants to marry!

“The legal team obviously disagrees with” the ruling, Charles Cooper, lead counsel for the measure’s sponsors, said in an e-mailed statement. “Our legal team will appeal this decision and continue our tireless efforts to defend the will of the people of California to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman.”

Andy Towle’s legal correspondent, Ari Ezra Waldman, sums it up well:

Appeal such a wholehearted beat down? Does he think he will get any more sympathy from a panel of Ninth Circuit judges who have known Judge Walker for years and have, in any event, already invested their court’s own time and effort into this case?

Bonus! National Center for Lesbian Rights’ Kate Kendell perfectly describes what was at risk in the proponents’ request that Judge Walker’s ruling be vacated based on his orientation and relationship status, here:

video h/t Courage Campaign’s p8tt

Prop 8 Lawyer Wants Trial Video Sealed

12:59 pm in Uncategorized by Teddy Partridge


PROP 8 PASSES by mylocationscouts, on Flickr

Judge Vaughn Walker, shortly before his retirement from the federal bench earlier this year, made a speech in Arizona and used a three-minute clip from the video trial record as a visual aid to make a point about broadcasting federal trials. Charles Cooper, lead attorney for the defendant-intervenors, is quite unhappy about Walker’s use of this public record, and has asked the federal court to seize and seal the video record.

You may recall that the US Supreme Court ruled that the Perry trial could not be broadcast as Walker had planned, but the judge maintained that the video record would be used by him. Apparently, “use by the presiding judge” is not restricted to in-chambers review while developing his extraordinary ruling in favor of marriage equality.

His University of Arizona talk included video of about three minutes of the cross-examination of one of Protect Marriage’s witnesses, Kenneth Miller, a political science professor. The speech was aired on C-SPAN.

Judge Walker believes the video record is public, and that his permitted use of it (at least while still on the bench) extends to the public realm. Cooper, on the other hand, wants the court to retrieve all copies extant and prohibit future public viewings of any portion of the video:’

Although Walker retired from the bench 10 days later and is no longer subject to judicial discipline, “he can be ordered to cease further unlawful and improper disclosures,” said Charles Cooper, the sponsors’ lawyer.

He asked the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to retrieve all copies of the video from Walker and the plaintiffs who challenged Prop. 8 and seal them from public view. The same court is reviewing the sponsors’ appeal of Walker’s ruling in August overturning the measure.

Read the rest of this entry →

Prop 8 Hangs in the Balance in Undecided CA AG Race

3:26 pm in 2010 election, Elections, LGBT by Teddy Partridge

photo: Fritz Liess via Flickr

Among the still-undecided 2010 races around the nation, California’s Attorney General battle holds the future of Prop 8. San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris (D) pledges to follow current AG and Governor-Elect Jerry Brown’s lead and not defend Proposition 8 in federal court. Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley (R) has pledged to join the Defendant-Intervenors in their appeal of District Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional.

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, who now trails Republican Steve Cooley in their lead-changing race as thousands of late ballots are being counted, opposed Prop. 8 and backed outgoing AG Jerry Brown’s decision not to defend it in court.

Cooley, the Los Angeles County district attorney, said during the campaign that, if elected, he was prepared to give the ballot measure the defense it never got from the state.

The timing of the federal appeal probably preempts any change of direction Cooley might want to make in the AG’s office:

But Cooley probably wouldn’t have a chance to do that right away even if he won the election. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco is scheduled to hear arguments Dec. 6 in an appeal by Prop. 8′s sponsors from a federal judge’s ruling that declared the measure unconstitutional. The state’s deadline for appealing that ruling has expired, and if Cooley takes office in January, the court’s not likely to let him enter the case as a party.

It might also present a constitutional conflict if the new Attorney General and the new Governor disagree about whether to back Prop 8; Arnold has agreed with Brown regarding defending the anti-gay proposition. If Cooley wins, his decision to join a possible appeal to SCOTUS would be in defiance of Governor Brown. Whether he would be provided the resources to defend the law remains in doubt.

However, if the Appeals Court and SCOTUS deny the Defendant-Intervenors standing and dismiss the appeal on that basis, a new Attorney General backing their play could re-open the case.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →