Closing arguments concluded in the landmark Proposition 8 trial in San Francisco, which will determine the constitutionality of California's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.
U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker is expected to rule in Perry v. Schwarzenegger in several weeks and the case is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court. Walker allowed both sides five hours for closing arguments. This was on top of 12 days of testimony in January.
During more than two hours of questioning by Walker, defense attorney Charles Cooper maintained that society is entitled to reserve marriage for those who can "naturally" conceive children. Walker "seemed skeptical", notes the WSJ Law Blog.
"There are plenty of heterosexual couples who can’t have, or don’t want, children, the judge remarked. 'Do people get married to benefit the community?' Walker asked. 'When one enters into a marriage, you don’t say, ‘Oh boy, I’m going to benefit society!' But Walker also had some pointed questions for the lawyers challenging Prop. 8. The judge asked Ted Olson, who represents gay plaintiffs fighting for the right to get married, why domestic partnerships aren’t sufficient for same-sex couples. In response, Olson played trial testimony from gay and lesbian witnesses who spoke of the humiliation they felt by not being allowed to marry."
And in a remarkable and dramatic closing, the defense claimed there was no need to offer any evidence to prove otherwise, reports Reuters.
"Conservative Charles Cooper led the defense, arguing that it is reasonable to fear that allowing same-sex marriage would undermine heterosexual marriage and self-evident that the purpose of marriage was procreating and raising children. 'You don't have to have evidence' to prove that the purpose of marriage is to bear and raise children, he said in the closing arguments, citing legal precedents.
Months earlier, he had surprised the court by saying he did not know how gay marriage would hurt heterosexuals -- and that he did not need to know in order to win the case. 'At the end of the day, 'I don't know' and 'I don't have to present any evidence,' with all respect to Mr. Cooper, doesn't cut it,' responded Olson on Wednesday.
Walker subjected Cooper to a barrage of questions, turning the lawyer's closing arguments into a cross-examination about the purpose of marriage, the state's role, and whether gays deserve special court protection akin to racial minorities. Cooper contended that the only way to invalidate Prop 8 was to prove there had been absolutely no good reason, or rational basis, for millions of Californians to back it."
"Chuck Cooper is a heckuva lawyer. At stake in this case is the future of marriage in all 50 states, and he's right that this attempt to shut down the debate by constitutionalizing gay marriage will backfire. Americans have a right to vote for marriage. Ted Olson doesn't seem to understand the argument, and judging from today's exchanges neither does Judge Walker. I expect Judge Walker will overrule Prop 8. But millions of Americans do understand why marriage is the union of husband and wife and I believe the majority of the Supreme Court will as well."
Much more on the Prop 8 trial at the Courage Campaign and the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which launched Perry
v. Schwarzenegger. Joe Jervis, Pam Spaulding and Andy Towle also have good coverage.
Read the official transcript from the closing arguments AFTER THE JUMP ...<