Why Is Name Dropping Brokeback Mountain and Will & Grace at Perry

As David H. Thompson, the defense attorney in Perry representing supporters of Prop 8, today cross-examines plaintiff witness Dr. George Chauncey, the Yale history professor, we’re getting hints as to how is making its case for discriminating against gays. Namely, that the journalistic and entertainment media don’t discriminate against us, so it’s not like we face major injustices!

Today, Thompson is using the plaintiff’s witnesses to acknowledge that not everybody discriminates the gays. Even some religious groups, he’s getting Chauncey to acknowledge. But what about the mass media? From a rush transcript/live-blog via FireDogLake:

T: Wrt media, all CA media was opposed to Prop 8. Is the news media in CA supportive of gay rights?
C: Broad categoriztion
T: Do you read the NYT
T: Is the NYT supportive of gay rights?
C: Yes

T: Let’s talk about TV! Sitcoms, number of characters on tv melodramas and sitcoms, became a regular part of the tv landscape in the 1990s?
C: Yes
T: Even Americans with no gay/Lesbian friends were exposed to G&L people, through tv, correct?
C: Probably, yes. An increased range of images availavble.
T: Dramatically increased the range of homos seen by Americans.
C: Yes, a wide range
T: Will & Grace was immensely popular, yes? Was it hostile to gays?
C: I did not think so, although some thought it played to a comedic role of gays.

T: Now, movies, there is no censorship code, now we have the ratings system. “Philadelphia” was the first studio film to address AIDS?
Yes, in 1993

T: Brokeback Mountain was big success and numerous awards, yes?
C: Although I struck there are not more such movies, but yes.

It’s like, if America can Netflix the shit out of gay entertainment, aren’t we far enough along?

Of course this is only one element of the defense’s argument, and perhaps not even a terribly significant one. But what Thompson & Co. are trying to put on the record is that gays and lesbians have already come so far in culture “normalization,” and that they’re facing less and less discrimination every day. Why then, the argument goes, do they need to infringe on such a traditional institution as marriage when they’re getting all their rights and privileges through other means? Feel free to poke holes in this methodology, because there are many. But hey: straws + grasping, right?

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  • emb

    Hm. “Isn’t it enough that we have Amos ‘n’ Andy on the radio and Bill Bojangles dancing with Shirley Temple in the movies, and Hattie McDaniel getting an Oscar, why do we have to share our schools and drinking fountains and restaurants with the Negroes?”

  • Yuki

    “Oh, not everyone hates them! We have movies about them! Pshaw, they don’t need marriage!”

    I can’t decide what’s more ridiculous, that argument or the “If a gay man can marry a lesbian, then we aren’t discriminating!” one.

  • Gary

    I think their angle is to prevent sexual orientation being considered under a suspect classification. If it is deemed a suspect class, the court has to use higher scrutiny level when considering laws that treat groups differently (whether it can be justified).

    Two components that Thompson is attacking, or preparing to attack, is the “weak political power” and “history of prejudice and discrimination.”

    I’m sure the defense will get to the third, “immutable characteristic” in short order.

  • B

    T: Do you read the NYT
    T: Is the NYT supportive of gay rights?
    C: Yes

    Obvious follow up questions:

    “Do most Californians read the NYT”


    “Did most Californians watch Will and Grace”

    “No” (most likely answer – with so many cable channels,
    it is rare for a program to be watched by a majority of

    “Do editorials influence public opinion”

    “Yes, but to a much smaller extent than TV advertising.”

  • John from England(used to be just John but there are other John's)

    @ EMB

    Thank you.

  • ksu499

    Did Thompson really say “…the range of homos seen by Americans”?

  • naghanenu

    This is not insignificant at all…

    They are making a point that should not be shrugged off easily.
    They are saying that gays are not the victims they claim to be. They are showing that gays have much more support and acceptance than they claim to have

    They are also asking that if gays are given the same rights as a traditnal marriage why do they want to get married???

    Seems stupid to you but makes a whole lot of sense to others

  • John from England(used to be just John but there are other John's)


    Shock that these are your feelings. No really shocked. I hope more people flag you now that Queerty has brought this tech thing back.

  • Chitown Kev

    @John From England

    No, naghanenu is making the point that this line of argument might make a whole lot of sense to others.

    In assessing levels of scrutiny, however, HISTORIC discrimination is taken into account, not simply the discrimination that is present today. Blacks have come very far also, and while there are those that would claim that racism no longer exists, no one takes them seriously.

    Besides, religion is also a protected class under the same strict scrutiny that race is.

    And of course, the federal courts are a crucible where, yes, public opinion also seems to form a basis for making decisions.

  • Justin

    Also, Brokeback Mountain exemplified a brutal slaying of a man because he was gay, with his wife supportive of the outcome.

  • John from England(used to be just John but there are other John's)

    @Chitown Kev:

    Look, I’m honest, it’s illogical to me. I deal with logic when it comes to a country with millions of people,not warped emotions.

    This is no argument. An argument deals with the concept of ideas and opinions be ultimately played against one another. You know the Greeks and that…

    So to me, this is no argument…at all.

    And my beef is with him, whether straight or gay but he said he was straight and with a girlfriend always posting really negative and un productive comments on the blog about gay people.

    It’s like and than what? What’s your point?

    The whole concept of being gay is depressing, not being made a fool of by the whole world but the weird gay community that has so much self hate towards each other that you’d never get this infighting in other Conservative blogs or NOM sites….

  • Blake B.

    John from England you’re absolutely right and don’t need to regret your assumption that naghanenu is nothing short of a bigoted hetro trolling our boards. Won’t make a difference, only galvanizes our community to WAKE UP and stand up and SCREAM louder. And think about it…a “straight” dude on a gay blog in his own subtle ways (but obvious with those of us with 2 brain cells to call home) making homophobic driven tirades. This clown is here to spew bigotry, but not outright bigotry, bigotry that always contradicts our argument, our points and our common sense. Chitown Kev is also the same person who argues time and time again that businesses have EVERY right to deny services to gay people. This is a classic case of two sharks in a gold fish costume….but they are in OUR tank. And don’t you ever forget it.
    Gay pride 2010!

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Dear John from England(used to be just John but there are other John’s),
    On 5 separate occasions I’ve broached the suspicion that Naghanenu is Maggie Gallagher, even point blank asking, yes or no, are you Maggie Gallagher, writing under a fictitious name, and got no denials and no response. Oh, look, in the distance, is that a turnip truck?

Comments are closed.