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Thursday Recap Federal Prop 8 Trial


The Thursday afternoon session of the federal lawsuit to overturn Proposition 8 was dedicated to the testimony of Columbia University Professor Ilan Meyer, a social psychologist who explained minority stigma and internalized homophobia in the gay community.

In a post-session press conference, plaintiffs' attorney Theodore Boutrous summarized the need to introduce these concepts in this trial: "By explaining the harm that's inflicted, and the fact that there's no benefit to anyone that can be demonstrated by Proposition 8, it's really just having a harmful affect on gay men and lesbians and no one else," Boutrous said.

In cross examination, defense attorney Howard Nielson often appeared frustrated by the long answers Meyer gave in his testimony. Nielson would often wince through his smile, and punctuate the end of Meyer's answers with a curt, "Yes, thank you." He attempted to discredit Dr. Meyer by pointing out he donated to the "No On 8" campaign and also tried to discredit much of Meyer's testimony by highlighting what would seem like inconsistencies in his research.

Earlier in the day, San Francisco chief economist Edmund Egan testified about the economic costs of Prop 8, including money the city and county must spend to provide health coverage for gays without insurance and to enforce laws requiring employers to provide coverage for domestic partners.

Egan testified that about 5,100 of the 18,000 same-sex couples who married between June and November 2008 were in San Francisco, and that they spent at a rate of about $21 million per year on wedding expenses, which produced several hundreds of thousands of dollars in associated taxes. Because of the same-sex marriage ban, the city's hotels are losing at least $2.6 million a year in business, Egan asserted.

The purpose of such testimony, said Therese Stewart, chief deputy city attorney for San Francisco, was to counter defendants' claim that there is a rational need for the government to ban same-sex marriage.

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