Prop 8 backers call for reversal of court ruling

by Tenzin Shakya and Audrey Arthur

Photo Credit: Steve Rhodes (Flickr)

Proponents of Proposition 8 presented their case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Monday, citing procreation and children’s well being as a rational basis to appeal an Aug. 4 ruling deciding that the proposition is unconstitutional.

A three-judge panel, consisting of Judge Stephen R. Reinhardt, Judge Randy Smith and Judge Michael Hawkins, reviewed the case brought forth by protectmarriage.com.

“We believe there is clearly a rational basis justifying the traditional definition of marriage,” said Charles Cooper defense attorney to the appellants. “The key reason that marriage has existed at all, in any society and at any time, is that sexual relationships between men and women naturally produce children.”

Proposition 8 was passed by California voters in 2008 defining marriage as an institution between one man and one woman. However, in an August ruling, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said the proposition is unconstitutional and infringes upon equal protection rights of gay and lesbian couples. Proposition 8 proponents then issued an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Although the court has no time limit, most cases heard by the Ninth Circuit are decided between 3-12 months. If the judges decide the proponents have legal standing, their case may continue to the California Supreme Court. Else, the federal appeals court may issue a decision without referring to the Supreme Court.

Cooper argued that the historical definition of marriage has existed now and “for all time immemorial.” Society has no interests in relationships such as platonic male-female relationships or same-sex relationships because of their inability to produce children, Cooper said.

Protestors outside of the San Francisco 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

“When a relationship between a man and a woman becomes a sexual one, society immediately has a vital interest in that,” Cooper said. “Society needs the creation of new life for the next generation.”

The interests of society are threatened by unwanted pregnancies and pregnancies out of wedlock, Cooper said, because such instances often leave the mother to raise the child alone. Cooper suggested that the traditional home of one father one mother is the most beneficial environment to raise a child.

“Society will have to step in and assist that single parent in all likelihood, that is what usually happens, in the raising of that child,” Cooper said. “But as well as the undeniable fact that children raised in that circumstance have poor outcomes.”

Judge Reinhart of Los Angeles responded, “That sounds like a good argument for prohibiting divorce.” The statement initiated a wave of laughter throughout the courtroom.

He also questioned how such an argument would invalidate a same-sex couple from raising children in California and creating a happy, healthy family unit.

Cooper stated he was attempting to give examples of procreation to exhibit the clear distinctions among same-sex couples and opposite sex couples.

Chief Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart responded to Cooper’s statements.

“It doesn’t matter how the child comes into the world,” said Stewart. “Family law in California recognizes that same-sex couples do procreate.”

To portray opposite-sex couples as traditional or ideal is demeaning toward same-sex couples, Stewart said, in that it implies gay or lesbian couples are less desirable.

“California does not discourage that in any way or say one is more desirable than the other,” Stewart said.

Theodore Olsen, an attorney who has led the challenge against Proposition 8, reacted to comments made in the appellant’s brief referring to problems that may occur with children if Proposition 8 is overturned.

“Proposition 8 needs to be enacted because the existence of same-sex marriage will make children prematurely occupied with issues of sexuality,” the brief read.

“That is nonsense,” Olsen responded. “If that was the course of justification, it would equally warrant the banning of comic books, television, video games and conversations with other children.”

Olsen criticized campaign methods of Yes on 8 and their emphasis on protecting children from potential harm of same-sex marriages.

“That was the original rationalization–protect our children from thinking that gay marriage is okay,” Olsen said. “Well, what is the matter with that? It must be something with the gay people.”

Olsen said such campaign strategies promote the idea that children must be protected from “these people.”

Judge Norman Randy Smith of Pocatello questioned the validity of any argument due to the equal rights that all couples share.

“What is the rational basis then if homosexuals have all the rights that heterosexual couples have?” asked Smith. “We’re left with a word: marriage.”

 

“The Tibetans in Tibet are waiting and they will remember!”

Tibetans all over the world are feeling the after math of the earth quake right now.

A Newsweek article titled “A Sympathetic Hearing” written by Isacc Stone Fish in Newsweek today reported the following statement “This week’s earthquake—and footage of the devastation—is allowing the average Chinese to see both the poverty and humanity of a region they’re used to seeing only in political terms. “It’s very hard to see real Tibetans” through the media, says Yang. “On TV, they’re dancing all the time, shaking hands with leaders, celebrating, or shown as troublemakers. This is an opportunity to realize that Tibetans live and suffer like we do.” In addition, the sensitivity about minority issues—especially Tibetan ones—in China has choked off civic opportunities for Tibetan-Chinese connections. The earthquake is bringing “unprecedented” Chinese-Tibetan grassroots understanding, “and this could be a very good thing,” says Yang.”

Below is a comment posted by SopheapAng on NewsWeek’s article :

I really wonder how this writer Issac Smelly Fish who was employed to bad-mouth China for a living and those despicable so-called exiled Tibetans would use such a natural disaster to bad-mouth China. One thing I want to ask these disgusting and despicable people is this: Where is your help?

The Tibetans in exile needs to answer this question. We need to tackle it head- on and communicate to the rest of the world and SHOW them that we are helping. The Tibetan associations around the world should fund-raise money, donate money, and support the Tibetans in Tibet. Most of the Tibetans in exile have already donated money, but have failed to reach the masses to announce that Tibet is at our top priority and we are helping our people.

Here is comment by TenzinZ on the same article:

I hope China will help rebuild this region and give the Tibetans greater opportunity and freedom, maybe it’ll be a start for us Tibetans and Chinese to gain a better mutual understanding. Also, I hope international community will donate as they have so generously done in Haiti -because the Tibetan people need your help so desperately. Please consider giving to Tibetan charities as the funds will go directly to those affected by the earthquake as opposed to other infrastructure development or get lost somewhere! I know we Tibetans have a resilient spirit, may we continue to believe in hope.

It is wonderful to see that the Chinese government are aiding the Tibetans during this devastating tragedy.

The Wall Street Journal reported “China’s leaders took a high-profile, hands-on approach to dealing with the disaster that struck one of the country’s most troubled ethnic-minority areas… and quoted Wian Jia Bao saying “We will make all-out efforts to build a new Yushu,” Mr. Wen, a member of China’s majority Han ethnic group, promised residents Friday, according to state media. “Whether you are Tibetan or Han, we are all from one family and we need to take care of each other.. Your suffering is our suffering,” Mr. Wen told townspeople in Jiegu, where most residents are Tibetan.

One would hope that Mr Wen’s words are genuine and heart felt to the current situation of Tibetans in Jyekundho, Tibet.

In fact, if one accessed the statement correctly, the message behind the “one unity mantra” carries precisely the same universal message that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been stating for over 51 years. We are all the same, and our suffering is your, suffering. In fact His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s statement  at the TIBETAN-CHINESE CONFERENCE IN GENEVA ON AUGUST 6, 2009 read the following statement “I request your help in carrying a message to the Chinese people that we Tibetans harbor no hatred against our Chinese brothers and sisters, and that we Tibetans are neither anti-Chinese nor anti-China. I seek your help and cooperation in preventing the issue of Tibet being turned into an issue of racial prejudice and antagonism between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples.”

When such natural disasters hit the poorest countries of the world, one thing is for certain; people react!

We can raise funds, individually, or with our community or even with our co-workers or even online. We can raise funds, we have seen it done before and we know it is possible.  Here are some ways in which Tibetans in exile can help the Tibetans in Tibet and let the know that we are thinking of them!

Write an email to your local businesses, foundations, friends, family members and co-workers. ASK FOR DONATION! It might be $5 from your neighbor and $5 from your friend, but if one person from the community gets even $100 and contribute to an association or a network of Tibetans, they will know.

Twitter, Facebook, youtube, etc- all social networks which carry thousands of friends, strangers, supporters and PEOPLE- make an URGENT call and ALERT THEM!

It is my personal belief that a community donating together will make a bigger effect on the Tibetans inside Tibet. Announce it on your association’s website, blog that you are doing a fundraising drive for the recent quake that hit Tibet. Once we have the money, we need to advertise, YES i said advertise- Let the whole world know, we are in support!

We cannot stop these natural disasters from occurring it seems, but it is definite that we can do something to help in the aftermath of such events to assist the vicitims and help them survive.

Kennedy once said “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”.. . Perhaps it is my own fear….  I fear that the Tibetans in Tibet will remember if we don’t come through for them now. One thing is for sure, we need to reach them and let them know, we are helping, we are definitely helping and trying our best.

I was informed today that four NGO’s based in the US – working in Tibet have networked together and formed a FUND for the Tibet Relief Fund which is provided by the SSG.

Update from Program Director of SSG: Snowland Services Group (SSG) is the best known Tibetan NGO in the earthquake area and is likely to lead many local NGO efforts there.  It is difficult to assess the situation: around 80% of building houses have collapsed, the water dam has been damaged, people are afraid that it might collapse and flood the city. Most people moved to the house festival ground this evening where some tents have been installed. SSG is trying to organize emergency services: water, food, medicine, tents, clothes and beddings. Our cashier who was seven month pregnant has died. It is hard to assess the number of persons who died. SSG believes it is much more probably above 3000. One important issue is that people have stopped rescue after a couple of hours, due to lack of hope and equipment. I still need time to asses to situation as today we have mainly been trying to find survivors….people fear that another earthquake might occur this evening. The needs are huge… The situation , here is critical.”

You can donate to feed, shelter and supply food and medical aide to the victims of this earth quake by donating to the following organizations. 100% of the donation goes directly to the Tibetans in Tibet.

Please visit the following sites to donate!

  • Yushu Earthquake Response
  • Tibet Village Project
  • Tibet Relief Fund
  • Machik
  • Tibet Foundation
  • If you cannot donate, then please send this letter to all your friends, co-workers and family members.

    Also Visit Students for Free Tibet’s blog to find other ways to make a difference during this devastating time!

    MORE WAYS YOU CAN HELP – Students for a Free Tibet


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