Very dry, scholarly testimony on the history and meaning of marriage was enlivened in the federal courtroom this morning with a Terry Gross interview! The Fresh Air program dated back to 2004 and featured Harvard American History Professor Nancy Cott, who was on the stand under cross examination. Lawyers representing the Prop. 8 campaign asked to replay a portion of the interview where Terry asked about the significance of traditional marriage being redefined to include same-sex couples. "Is history about to be made … in the legalization or in the official illegalization of gay marriage?" Professor Cott was asked. "Yes," Cott answered, "it is a very important point to mark in the evolution of marriage. Marriage is always a changing institution." Terry then asked her guest, "Are you taking an activist role in any way?" But before the courtroom could hear Cott's answer, defense attorneys abruptly stopped the recording apparently satisfied that her interviewer wondered if her guest was in fact an activist on behalf of gay marriage. In their view, that activism could undermine her authority as an objective scholar on the history of marriage.
So what was Cott's answer? She told Terry: "I don't consider myself an advocate, I consider myself an informed participant…"
You can listen to the complete interview below or in the Fresh Air archives.