The Prop 8 Experts Who Were Terrified of Big, Bad YouTube

Cross-posted from the Prop 8 Trial Tracker

Remember all those experts who were scared of appearing on YouTube? Well, I don’t know if they knew this when they were lining up to be deposed, but depositions become part of the public record, and fortunately for us, we have said depositions. And even more helpfully, we have clips on YouTube of Paul Nathanson and Katherine Young, you know the people who believe that men are constantly and subtly being discriminated against.

Anyway, these folks go around doing expert testimony for social conservative causes. Apparently hiding their faces while doing so.  Perhaps Paul Nathanson should have hidden more than his face during the Iowa same-sex marriage, Varnum V. Brien, and just gone mute. It would have done more benefit for the opponents of marriage equality.   Nathanson’s testimony Varnum was so ridiculous that the court struck it from the record stating that his testimony was “not based on observation supported by scientific methodology or . . . on empirical research in any sense.”

Forgetting my legal training, and just looking at a quick behavioral and textual reading of this testimony, it is clear that neither of these two witnesses would have done a lick of good for the Prop 8 defense. As we go through these clips, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Let’s start with Paul Nathanson (transcript here):

Q – Let’s try to break that down into two parts.  First, you recognize that gay couples are today raising children, correct?

A – Yes.

Q – And you believe that enabling those gay couples to marry would enhance their ability to be good parents to the chi-

A – Yes.

Basically, this guy admits something that David Blankenhorn ended up admitting on the stand: lack of marriage equality harms children being raised by LGBT parents. While the defense completely failed to prove that there was any damage whatsoever from marriage equality on the children of straight parents, over and over again, event the defense’s own witnesses acknowledged that there was real and serious harm done to not only LGBT couples, but their families. Meanwhile, Nathanson is looking unhappy and snippy. All in all, he was just another Blankenhorn debacle waiting to happen. And, I think even the defense would privately admit that could have gone better.

And Katherine Young would not have been much better.  See the thing is that with these scientists, they’ve actually read these studies, and understand the background. This is where Boies picked apart Prof. Miller. Miller had to eventually admit that his position was contrary to the great bulk of research in the field. And Miller’s testimony, at its best, could only go to a small portion of what they were trying to show.  Young wound up admitting a gold mine’s worth in her deposition. It’s almost hard to pick out selections from the transcript of Young’s deposition.

Q – My question is, is it your view that because something was the norm in the past, it should be continued in the future? …

A – Just because something is a norm, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is an appropriate norm, and it has to then be reassessed in the contemporary context to see if t norm should remain.


Q – And you believe that allowing gay couples to marry will increase the durability of those gay couples relationships, correct?

A – Okay.  I’ll say yes.


Q – Okay.  And increasing the durability of those relationships is beneficial to the children that they’re raising, correct?

A – On that one factor, yes.

While Young does come across looking annoyed, she doesn’t seem quite so smug as Blankenhorn and Nathanson, so point for her on that. However, the factual admissions she makes were just too much for the Prop 8 defense to consider putting her on the stand.

At any rate, both Nathanson and Young hardly look fearful of appearing either on YouTube or on the witness stand. This was a purely tactical decision masquerading as something else.  After all, they have written several books together about how men are an oppressed minority, they are hardly afraid of spouting controversial opinions in public.  The reason these two didn’t testify has nothing to do with being scared, and everything to do with the fact that they were simply bad witnesses.