Posts Tagged ‘brokeback mountain’

Prop 8 On Trial: The Brokeback Defence

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Today was the third day of the Proposition 8 trial, which looks set to be a landmark case in US legal history. At issue is the question of whether Proposition 8, which banned marriage equality for same-sex couples in California, was constitutional.

The California constitution states, “A person may not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law or denied equal protection of the laws”. The plaintiffs argue that denying gays the right to marry clearly violates the equal protection doctrine. Proposition 8 was discriminatory.

I am not a lawyer, but on the face of it I’d say this seems clear cut. The right to marry one’s partner should apply equally to gays as to straights because the constitution says so. The reason there’s any controversy at all is not because the issue is unclear, but because the majority consensus has always opposed applying the constitution fairly to this traditionally maligned minority. If this were just about what’s right, what’s fair, what’s humane, this would be over already; but it’s not about any of that. It’s about protecting the conservative status quo from erosion by the civil rights movement.

Extraordinarily, the central question of the case today appeared to be, ‘are gays still discriminated against?’ The anti-gay Prop 8 lawyers want to argue that gays are no longer discriminated against, therefore gays in California were stripped of their right to marry for non-discriminatory reasons. They actually cited Brokeback Mountain and Will & Grace as evidence that everything is just A-OK for gays today. They also pointed out that gays no longer get locked up in asylums. That’s the warm embrace of social acceptance right there!

The main Prop 8 lawyer also pointed out that Barack Obama opposes gay marriage. Well, yes. Barack Obama is not our friend. We need to come to terms with the fact that anyone who supports civil unions over marriage equality is an opponent of equal rights. Those who support civil unions are part of our opposition.

My favourite exchange of the day was between the Prop 8 lawyer and Yale historian Professor George Chauncey:

Evil Lawyer: “Isn’t it true that people voted for Prop 8 based upon their sincere moral values?”
Clever Historian: “Many people opposed desegregation and interracial marriage based upon their sincere moral values.”

The strangest part of the proceedings must have been the video testimony of Hak-Shing William Tam of the Traditional Families Coalition. Tam was one of the initial proponents of Prop 8, and he notably tried to remove himself from this trial because he was concerned about the attention it would bring him. As Rachel Maddow remarked on her show earlier this week, “Where is the anti-gay pride?”

Tam distributed literature claiming that San Francisco was ruled by a secret enclave of homosexual activists who saw gay marriage as a step towards their ultimate agenda of legalised prostitution and sex with children. It is extraordinary fringe tin-hattery, and the Prop 8 lawyer ardently objected to the airing of the video because it so clearly demonstrated the irrationality of the hatred directed towards gays.

Today’s proceedings seem encouraging, but there was a heavy cloud on the day, because the US Supreme Court - where this case is surely ultimately headed - ruled 5-4 that the Prop 8 case could not be televised or shown on YouTube because the judge failed to follow the proper procedures.

The Prop 8 side knows that, the more people are exposed to their arguments, the less they will be convinced by their position, so they really didn’t want this trial on YouTube. They are cowards who know their position is absurd and irrational.

This boon of public exposure has been denied us due to a technicality, and the fact that the Supreme Court split along ideological grounds bodes ill for this case’s chances in America’s highest court. The Supreme Court are likely to be as hidebound by their prejudices as every other conservative body in America, however discriminatory those prejudices may be.

The upside, however, is that we’re certain to get some hilarious YouTube reconstructions from the court transcripts.

Round-Up: Bears, Bourne, Brokeback & Breastaurants

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009


ITEM: The above bears floating down the Thames are a rather splendid little art project designed to raise awareness for a new TV show. Sorry; they’re to raise awareness that the ice-caps are melting. But we already knew that, so it’s really just to pimp a TV show. It is marvellous, though.

ITEM: Matt Damon is still whingeing on about how he doesn’t like James Bond. “They could never make a James Bond movie like any of the Bourne films, because Bond is an imperialist, misogynist sociopath who goes around bedding women and swilling martinis and killing people. He’s repulsive.” Given that James Bond thoroughly spanks Jason Bourne’s buttocks at the box office, I think he’s worried that people aren’t being properly repulsed. Touchy-feely Hollywood hippy.


ITEM: Do homophobic IMDB users vote down gay films that raise their heads too high above the parapet? AwardsDaily seems to think so, pointing out that since Milk got its Oscar nomination for Best Picture it has racked up a surprising number of ‘1 out of 10′ votes. The same thing happened to Brokeback Mountain three years ago; more than 8% of Brokeback votes give it a ‘1′, forcing it out of the Top 250. Milk may go the same way - in the last week it fell 40 places at a time when most Best Picture nominees tend to see a bump.

It’s notable that there aren’t any other gay movies in the Top 250 - unless you count Rope, The Wizard of Oz or Lord of the Rings - but honestly, there aren’t many gay movies that should be. Some people make good films and some people make gay films, but rarely does anyone manage to do both. Milk and Brokeback Mountain are two laudable exceptions to the rule.

ITEM: Speaking of which, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has announced its nominees for its annual Media Awards. As usual, there haven’t really enough positive gay representations in the media in the past year to make the list convincing. It’s not often you see the word ‘Torchwood’ appearing under the header ‘Outstanding Television Drama’.

ITEM: Hooters, the world’s most famous breastaurant, faces fresh challenges in Texas from new rivals such as Twin Peaks and Bone Daddy’s. I don’t really  care, I just like that someone has coined the word ‘breastaurant’. My question is, when are they going to create a man-candy version of Hooters? They can call it Peccadillo. I give that idea freely unto the world.

ITEM: Your Wikipedia link for the day: exploding animals - where the categories ‘Animals’ and ‘Explosions’ meet.