How to argue marriage equality

HOW TO ARGUE MARRIAGE EQUALITY…. In light of last week’s federal court ruling on California’s Proposition 8, marriage equality received a fair amount of attention on the Sunday morning shows, including interviews with both Ted Olson and David Boies, the legal team that won the case.

On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Boies, perhaps best known as the attorney representing Democrats in 2000’s Bush v. Gore, faced off against Family Research Council chief Tony Perkins. As expected, Perkins spewed a lot of nonsense, prompting Boies to make plain the limits of far-right rhetoric. (via John Cole)

“Well, it’s easy to sit around and debate and throw around opinions appear– appeal to people’s fear and prejudice, cite studies that either don’t exist or don’t say what you say they do. In a court of law you’ve got to come in and you’ve got to support those opinions. You’ve got to stand up under oath and cross-examination. And what we saw at trial is that it’s very easy for the people who want to deprive gay and lesbian citizens the right to vote, to make all sorts of statements and campaign literature or in debates where they can’t be crossexamined.

“But when they come into court and they have to support those opinions and they have to defend those opinions under oath and cross-examination, those opinions just melt away. And that’s what happened here. There simply wasn’t any evidence. There weren’t any of those studies. There weren’t any empirical studies. That’s just made up. That’s junk science.

“And it’s easy to say that on television. But witness stand is a lonely place to lie. And when you come into court, you can’t do that. And that’s what we proved. We put fear and prejudice on trial, and fear and prejudice lost.”

As the kids say, boo-yah. Perkins can repeat his talking points, and maybe even persuade the uninformed and/or those inclined to agree with him, but when it comes to withstanding scrutiny, Perkins and his ilk have built a house of cards that crumbles with surprising ease.

On a related note, on “Fox News Sunday,” Olson, perhaps best known as the attorney representing Republicans in 2000’s Bush v. Gore, sparred a bit with host Chris Wallace, who threw just about every GOP talking point he could think of at Bush’s former solicitor general. The central point of Wallace’s questioning seemed fairly straightforward: if voters want to limit the scope of Americans’ rights, they should be able to do so at the ballot box. Olson turned the question around:

“Well, would you like your right to free speech? Would you like Fox’s right to free press put up to a vote and say well, if five states approved it, let’s wait till the other 45 states do? These are fundament constitutional rights. The Bill of Rights guarantees Fox News and you, Chris Wallace, the right to speak. It’s in the Constitution. And the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the denial of our citizens of the equal rights to equal access to justice under the law, is a violation of our fundamental rights. Yes, it’s encouraging that many states are moving towards equality on the basis of sexual orientation, and I’m very, very pleased about that…. We can’t wait for the voters to decide that that immeasurable harm, that is unconstitutional, must be eliminated.”

Seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it?