Cheat Sheet for Thursday’s Prop 8 Hearing

Cheat Sheet for Thursday’s Prop 8 Hearing

Prop 8’s back in court — but why, exactly? I’ll answer all your questions about what’s going on this time. Plus, the backstory behind the most effective — and adorable — marriage equality video ever made. Prop 8’s legal team celebrates a bill in Nigeria that would throw you in prison for over a decade just for witnessing a gay couple getting married. All that, plus robot marriage, and one gay couple looks back on their 50-year romance in a new book.

This week’s Marriage News Watch is here:

Following is the transcript of Matt Baume’s report:

Whenever I tell people that I report on the Prop 8 trial, they always respond the same way: “oh yeah, what’s going on with that?” Understandable, since it’s been a really complicated case. Our next hearing is on Thursday of this week, so let’s take some time to clear up exactly what’s happened, what’s going on, and what you can expect on Thursday.

We started with our plaintiffs, Sandy and Kris and Jeff and Paul, in District Court in 2009.

And we won in August of 2010.

Then the Proponents appealed to the Ninth Circuit and we had oral arguments in December of 2010.

And that’s when the case got complicated. Three new questions came up about whether the Proponents had standing, whether we could release the videotapes of the trial, and whether our District Court win needed to be vacated after the Judge disclosed that he was gay.

The standing question went to the California Supreme Court. The other two questions went back to the District Court.

It took most of 2011, but we finally got decisions on all three questions, and now those issues are all going back to the Ninth Circuit.

So the Ninth Circuit will have to rule on all of those issues, either in one big ruling or a couple of small ones…


…the merits of the appeal. Our next hearing is happening December 8 at 2:30pm, and we’ll be discussing the issues of video and the motion to vacate.

Then at some point after that, we’ll get a ruling (or rulings) from the 9th Circuit. There’s no timeframe for them to rule, but they don’t usually take too long so a good guess would be early in 2012.

And then that ruling might go to the US Supreme Court. Or it could get appealed again to the Ninth Circuit for a do-over called an “en banc review.”

For an en banc review to happen, one party would have to petition for it. Then the judges would vote on whether to re-hear the case. And then, finally, they’d issue a new ruling. It’s impossible to estimate a timeframe for this, but if it happened, the hearing might be sometime in mid-2012, with a decision later that year or possibly early 2013.

Whether or not the en banc review happens, the case is likely to go to the Supreme Court of the United States.

The Supreme Court could refuse to hear the case. Or they could accept it, in which case they’d have oral arguments and then issue a decision. Oral arguments happen from October to June, so our case could possibly be heard during the October 2012 term. And then we’ll be done, and if the judges rule the way AFER believes they’ll rule, we’ll have full federal marriage equality for every gay and lesbian couple in the country.

So that’s the latest with Prop 8. I’ll be live-tweeting the proceedings from the courthouse — follow @AFER on Twitter to stay up-to-date.

Meanwhile, America’s not the only country on the cusp of marriage equality.

Australian organizers released a wildly popular ad last month, featuring a montage of a gay couple’s courtship, to encourage legislators to recognize marriage equality nation-wide. The ad ends with a proposal — but will the couple actually be able to marry, or will they have to settle for a civil union?

Right now, the answer to that question for all Australian LGBTs comes down to one woman: Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Gillard is the one roadblock to the Australian Labor Party’s efforts to add marriage equality to the party platform. For now, it looks like pro-equality legislators have the votes needed to amend the party platform, but it remains to be seen whether Gillard still has some tricks up her sleeve to undermine their efforts. Visit for the latest and to find out how you can get involved, no matter where you are in the world.

In Nigeria this week, the Senate approved a bill that imposes draconian penalties for any activity that might affirm LGBTs, including marriage. Under the bill, attempted marriage is punishable with a 14-year jail term, or 10 years simply for being present at the ceremony. The Alliance Defense Fund, which is defending Prop 8 in court, reported the news from Nigeria with the headline, “Citizens Celebrate Ban of Same-Sex Marriage.”

And in Maryland this week, an anti-gay coalition kicked off a campaign for a constitutional ban on marriage. The organization is led by Robert Broadus, who had this to say about marriage equality earlier this year:

“The technology already exists … what’s to stop a man from marrying a robot, what’s to stop a woman from marrying a computer?”

For more on the romantic implications of the Three Laws of Robotics, visit the science fiction section of your local library.

And finally this week, an interview with Alan Shayne and Norman Sunshine, authors of the new book “Double Life.” Alan and Norman met in New York in the 1950s, and as their fascinating work took them form performing on Broadway to running a television studio to a new career in painting, they’ve built a life together as the country’s attitudes toward gay couples transformed dramatically over the decades.

I spoke with Alan and Norman about what it was like to be a gay couple in the 50s, and how it’s changed. You can see the entire 20-minute interview at AFER’s YouTube channel, at Here are some highlights of our conversation.

What was your understanding then of what it was to be a gay couple?

We didn’t have role models in those days, because we didn’t know people who had good, equal relationships, men or women. I’m talking about same-sex. And that’s what we wanted.

It was two years because we could actually think of living together. It was just — parents and relatives and friends, how do you explain this?

In those days we never spoke of it. Now we’re talking about it all the time! It’s a totally different world.

I had my first one man show in New York at a New York gallery while I was the VP, Creative Director of an ad agency. Unheard-of. So the New York Times got wind of it and they wanted to write an article about me.

So, um, which I allowed them to do. And this woman, who — and before the interview I said, “Alan, you know, she’s going to ask me something about our living, who I, know what, whatever. My living circumstances.” They wanted to take a picture of me in my apartment, my studio, and all that. And I said, “what do I say when she asks that question?” And we looked at each other and I said “you know, I think I’m going to tell the truth.”

There was this interview and she asked the question. “Do you live here, you know, alone?” And I said “no, I live here, I share this apartment with Alan Shayne, producer for David Susskind.” Well, the article was the — in those days it was almost the entire page. Pictures of me and that statement was in it.

And the next day I went to work at my agency and no one said a word. Not a word. It’s like the article never happened. It’s a big deal. Alan had the same reaction.

No one said anything. Susskind certainly never said anything, and he could have. Anybody could have.

But we realized it was the first time the New York Times had ever talked about two men living together.

Was there a point — or was that the point — where you said, “enough, we’re just going to be out with everyone?”

We never hit people in the head with it. It’s just — the way we’re doing now! We made a decision to do it, and now we’re doing it. And now the butcher in the market comes up and says “I read your book and it gave me goosebumps.” The butcher is reading about our sex lives in a way, you know. It’s very strange.

For the entire interview, including some stories about Lena Horne, Rock Hudson, and Joan Rivers, head over to Visit to stay up-to-date on the challenge to Prop 8, and for daily breaking news alerts about marriage equality around the country and around the world. We’ll see you in court on Thursday.

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