Friday, February 26, 2010

Stacked Deck: Same-Sex “Marriage” Symposium at USF Law School

Today, February 26, the (Jesuit) University of San Francisco School of Law will host a symposium called “The Future of Same-Sex Marriage.”

Calling the deck stacked in favor of those supporting same-sex marriage would be an understatement. 10 of the 24 panelists or moderators contributed financially to the “No on Proposition 8” campaign, in amounts ranging from $100 to $5000. There is not a single donor to the “Yes on Proposition 8” campaign either as a panelist or moderator.

The symposium consists of five panels:

1) Crunching the Numbers: Examining empirical data regarding the material consequences of denying or recognizing same-sex marriage.
2) Analyzing the Federal Challenge: Discussing the federal constitutional challenge to California's Proposition 8 and similar litigation.
3) Mobilizing Movements: Exploring the roles of competing social movements in shaping the future
of marriage.
4) Protecting Families: Examining the emerging focus on questions about parenting children and
securing families.
5) Exercising Religion: Considering the intersection of religion and anti-discrimination law in the context of same-sex marriage.

There is one supporter of natural marriage at the symposium, Vincent McCarthy, Senior Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice. The ACLJ filed an amicus brief on behalf of several members of California’s Congressional delegation in the case challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8, which currently awaits the decision of Judge Vaughn Walker. Judge Walker’ credibility and impartiality are open to question, and at least two of his procedural decisions in the case have been overturned by the Ninth Circuit and the US Supreme Court.

Mr. McCarthy’s presence balances the presence of Therese Stewart, Chief Deputy City Attorney for the City of San Francisco, who won the 2008 “Marriages” case, and who will give the keynote address—but there the balance ends. While there are only two representative of openly activist organizations (Brad Sears, Executive Director, The Charles R. Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA; and Molly McKay, National Media Director, Marriage Equality USA) the symposium is filled with activist lawyers.

An examination of the participants in a randomly chosen panel (#4, "Protecting Families") reveals:

• Prof. Annette Appell, Washington University School of Law, “a champion in the field of gay adoption” ( "Gay Parenthood and the Revolution of the Modern Family," Nicholas Arnsten, University of Connecticut 2009, p. 29)

• Prof. June Carbone, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, who apparently does not take opposition to same-sex “marriage” seriously: “In Ohio, an all important bellwether state with an anti-gay marriage proposition on the ballot designed to increase turnout among evangelicals…” ( “Red Families v. Blue Familes,” with Naomi Cahn, p. 19.) Emphasis added.

• Prof. Courtney Joslin, whose UC Davis School of Law bio page states: “Prior to joining the faculty at UC Davis, Professor Joslin served as an attorney at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), where she litigated cases on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families.”

• Prof. Melissa Murray, UC Berkeley, School of Law, who is one of the “experts” UC Berkeley provides on the issue of same-sex “marriage.” “Murray, along with Herma Hill Kay and Joan Hollinger, signed an amicus brief filed by a group of law professors in support of same-sex marriage.”

There's no reason to consider the ideological balance of the other panels to be any healthier. For instance, the "Exercising Religion: Considering the intersection of religion and anti-discrimination law in the context of same-sex marriage" panel has three participants:
Prof. Alan Brownstein, UC Davis, School of Law, who donated $500 to oppose Proposition 8;
Prof. Dale Carpenter, University of Minnesota Law School, who donated $2200 to oppose Proposition 8; and Prof. Doug Ne Jaime, Loyola Law School, who donated $475 to oppose Proposition 8.

This is obviously not an academic conference in search of truth, it is an activist's planning session.

If the Jesuits at USF were even neutral on same-sex “marriage”—what the Holy Father considers a non-negotiable issue--that would be bad enough. But they are obviously not even neutral. The only statement, that I am aware of, made by a USF Jesuit was that of Fr. Donal Godfrey on December 13, 2008, when he said in Catholic San Francisco that he "...personally opposed Prop 8 which is a matter of conscience...".

Posted by Gibbons J. Cooney

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