Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Fred Silberberg Headshot

The Ultimate Act of Cowardice in the Prop 8 Case

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

This week marked the commencement of the San Francisco Federal Court case over the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California. For those who do not recall the particulars of the legislation, the proposition was supported by various conservative and religious groups who raised over $40 million dollars, much of which came from outside the state, in order to fund their opposition campaign.

The campaign in support of Proposition 8 put forth various claims about the alleged effect legalizing gay marriage would have on heterosexual marriages and children in the state of California. Backers of Proposition 8, which included people like William Tam and an organization called "Protect Marriage," had no problem disseminating all sorts of claims to the public in effort to obtain support for their initiative. These claims included outlandish charges like the legalization of same-sex marriage would result in "gay sex being taught in schools." In fact, during the campaign, backers of Prop 8 had no problem making all sorts of misrepresentations to scare people into supporting their proposition. Many of these representations were pervasively known to be false. They were quite public about their quest, which included ongoing commercials on radio and television, large scale dissemination of materials in the mail, door-to-door canvassing of voters, and putting up signs stating "protect marriage." This widescale campaign was unlike anything perviously seen in California and ultimately it successfully persuaded a slight majority of the voters who participated in that election, to pass the initiative.

Having conducted what has been viewed by many as a smear campaign, based on the public dissemination of falsehoods, it is rather ironic that the same individuals who so vociferously supported this initiative in public prior to the election, now allege that they have a right of privacy which needs to be respected and that the court should decline to publicly broadcast the proceedings as had been planned.

Aside from the request by William Tam, to now be excused from the case as a defendant (which he voluntarily petitioned the court previously for) because he is "tired and wants peace," Protect Marriage and others want to keep the public in the dark about what the impact of Proposition 8 really means for many Californians. The trial was expected to be covered by the media so that it could be observed by the public. Under the guise of claiming that they will be intimidated if the proceedings are available to the public, Protect Marriage and others have asked the United States Supreme Court to block the broadcast of the proceedings. The Supreme Court granted the request on a temporary basis this week. While the grant was not a final decision, the effect of it is such that it is more likely than not that the Supreme Court will not rule until after the trial is over.

It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court decided to block the broadcast of the proceedings. In essence, the same people who used the public as a sword in their quest to attack gay rights, have now been able to successfully use the court system as a shield to suddenly take themselves out of the public eye, knowing full well that the exposure of the trial will make people aware of the various falsehoods that they alleged in support of their campaign.

This act of manipulation of the legal system should, in and of itself, cause voters to question whether there was any merit to supporting the proposition to begin with. Having made their claims in the public without any regard for the fear that they created by making false statements and by using scare tactics, these same organizations should not be permitted to cover up their falsehoods by not allowing the public to view the proceedings in the media. It appears that the supporters of the proposition do not want the voters in California to suffer from "buyer's remorse." It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court's ruling has enabled these people to again use the legal system to try and promote their agenda. Their refusal to allow the public to properly scrutinize their claims, and the motivation behind the sponsorship of Proposition 8, is the ultimate act of cowardice and the public should view it as just that.