Joe Mirabella

Prop 8 trial a "teachable moment"

Filed By Joe Mirabella | January 12, 2010 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics
Tags: California, gay marriage, gay rights, Prop. 8, same-sex marriage, trial

Yesterday I made my way with to the Federal Court House in Seattle as a typically nasty Seattle winter rain storm managed to drench me to my soul, despite my over-sized umbrella and hearty rain jacket. No matter, I was looking forward to live tweeting the stream from California as my rights, and the rights of millions of Americans were debated in court.

Seattle was supposed to be one of a few select cities around the country that would broadcast a live feed from California. The rest of the country would have to wait for media reports, or the delayed YouTube broadcast scheduled for the following day.

I was asked by bloggers around the country if they could feature my tweets so that more people could follow today's exciting developments.

Upon my arrival at the courthouse though, I was greeted with disappointing news that sent a shiver through my drenched body -- the Supreme Court of the United States issued a temporary restraining order restricting both the live stream in court houses and the YouTube broadcast.

The Defendants filed a last minute appeal to the Supreme Court on Friday to block the broadcast, and the court agreed at least to delay the feed until Wednesday when the entire court can rule.

I left the court feeling a sense of loss that I would not be able to witness the day's proceedings. I can not think of another court case that could have such an enormous impact on my life, and the lives of my community. I was simply devastated.

When I returned home, I was happy to see that as usual, in the face of temporary defeat, my community rallied. Rick Jacobs Executive Director of the Courage Campaign became a live blogger as he fed the world information from the overflow room in California. He is not typically a blogger, but yesterday he shined.

Well, we're done for today, which is kind of sad. I remember the first time I really heard anyone use the phrase "teachable moment." Arianna Huffington said it as only she can. And it stuck with me. But then, as with so many other popular culture phrases, it became hackneyed. If someone punched a kid in the eye, it was a "teachable moment."

Today has truly provided teaching of the first order. When do we get to see four people--two couples--relate very personal stories about marriage and love and being gay? When do we get to hear those people talk about how the Prop. 8 ads hurt them personally? When do we see the affect that stigmatizing homosexuals for millennia has had on Jeff or Sandy? And when do we get to learn from a Yale and Harvard professor that our current understanding of the form of marriage is relatively new, not biblically based and the building block of the American polity?

Jacobs and the Courage Campaign delivered a petition to Judge Walker with over 138,542 signatures supporting the internet broadcast of the trial. The judge mentioned the "overwhelming" response in court today and noted only 32 opposed. I learned this information live as people tweeted from the courtroom and the overflow room. Twitter saved the day for those eager for real time updates.

Today certainly was a teachable moment. Our community has been waiting for the opportunity to provide an honest portrayal of our love, our lives, and how the government's role in segregating our community has been harmful to our lives and a violation of our 14th Amendment for decades.

I'm not a lawyer, so I won't attempt to dissect today's legal arguments, but I can tell you from a very personal perspective that it feels so good to know justice is in motion. Our community has perhaps the best legal team alive to represent us, and our opponent's leadership is finally having to answer for their behavior over the last several years.

I hope the Supreme Court allows the broadcast to go through on YouTube and via remote viewing at the court houses. This case is a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness history. The issues being discussed need to be discussed in public. Judge Walker has instituted adequate safeguards to protect witnesses who feel shy. We have nothing to lose, but a teachable moment if the broadcast is completely cut off.

No matter what happens, I'm confident those that can will get information out as quickly and efficiently as they did today. I look forward to following their tweets, blogs, facebook posts, and e-mails as history unfolds. Their work, though patched together quickly, protected our open government today. For that, they will always be my hero.

We weren't able to watch the opening statement by Ted Olson, so he made a point to outline his case on NBC's nightly news. Watch below, and read the full opening statement here.

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