Paging Perry Mason

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Still from "Perry Mason" (

Fans of the old "Perry Mason" television series (OK, I'm dating myself) remember his dramatic cross examinations of witnesses, who ended up reversing their stories on the stand, enabling Mason to get his clients acquitted. Well, there was a version of that in court this morning, but it was the defendants' witnesses who gave helpful testimony to the prosecutor. The plaintiffs' attorneys played video-taped depositions from two people on the defense's witness list: Dr. Paul Nathanson and professor Katherine Young, both from McGill University in Montreal. Under questioning by plaintiffs' attorney David Boies, Dr. Nathanson, a professor of religious studies, acknowledged:

  • That organized religion, in particular the Catholic Church and Southern Baptists, teaches hostility to gays and that homosexuality is a "grave disorder," evil, depraved and immoral.
  • That those teachings contribute to cultural hostility to gays, including gay bashings.
  • That religion was also used to justify prejudice against Blacks and women, ¬†and that that discrimination was based on "protecting the family."

And professor Young, in the deposition, acknowledged that allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry would increase the "durability" of those relationships, and thus be "beneficial" to their children

These are exactly the points opponents of Prop. 8 are trying to prove -- that Prop. 8 was based in hostility and hatred for homosexuals, and is therefore unconstitutional.

Nathanson and Young have been withdrawn as witnesses [pdf] by the defense, so we won't hear from them in person. But the taped depositions provide clues as to why they will not be called to the stand by attorneys defending Proposition 8. Hamilton Burger would no doubt approve of that decision.

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