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Come learn how you can keep all that’s yours! OCEC is hosting free legal forum on tax tips geared toward LGBT people.  They have a panel of Orange County tax professionals ready to answer your questions! The event is being held on March 30, 7:00-8:00 p.m. at Chapman University School of Law.

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So I would LOVE to stop writing about Orange County head of Chapman Law School and intellectual dinosaur, John Eastman, but he’s fighting so hard for attention that it’s a shame to ignore the little guy. In an ongoing war of words with most of the world, including colleagues and students at conservative, Chapman University, Eastman is carving out his niche with the crazies–presumably so he won’t be completely forgotten once Dean Erwin Chimerinsky opens UC Irvine’s new law school next year.

Eastman was interviewed by the OC Register late last month (full article). His main point was that proponents of Prop 8 should be emphasizing how inferior gay “situations” are to their hetero counterparts, as opposed to their campaign lie that they wanted gay citizens to have all the same rights as non-gay people.  Eastman says in the article:

“Marriage is for procreation and promotion of the family. There is a biological connection to the institution of marriage. The people who have the greatest natural instinct to care for children are the natural parents.

“That natural instinct is so powerful that when we push it aside, it can have a profound affect on society. When one or more of the parents are adoptive, you’re usually starting with a less-than-optimal child-rearing situation.”

The logical oversights here are obvious. People marry for many reasons–birthing and/or raising children together is often not one of them. Marriage is not about “procreation.” If that was the sole reason for people to get married, then old people, infertile people, and people who do not want kids would be ineligible (for the record, not all same sex couples want to have kids). The idea that adoptive families are “less than” biological families presumes that bio families are all the Cleavers and the Cosbys. As a back-sliden social worker with career experience in the county foster/adoption system, I must point out that when a foster child is adopted, it is because that child was in some way abandoned or neglected by its biological parents and family–so much for natural instinct.

Eastman’s interview prompted an op-ed piece, entitled “Unjustified Accusations,” in Chapman’s university paper, the Panther. Andrew Scheppmann writes:

Adoptive parents endure a lengthy and time-consuming process to start a family and to give homes to children in the foster care system – many of whom come from abusive homes and were taken away from their biological parents.

Eastman is assuming that adopted children will turn out poorly and affect society negatively. But his accusations are unfounded and unjustified.

Eastman responded to this op-ed with a Letter to the Editor in which he splits hairs over whether he meant that children raised by non-bio parents will turn out “poorly” or “less well” than those raised by bio parents in a “low conflict marriage” (such as the Cleavers and the Cosbys). His money line is this: “It is unfortunate that debate over this contested issue has taken on such an anti-intellectual cast.”

Eastman has sponsored one bigoted “forum” after another about Prop 8 and the state’s recognition of same sex marriages (some of which I have covered here and here). He has given a bully pulpit to the likes of BYU professors of law Lynn Wardle and Scott Loveless–both of whom perpetuated wildly outlandish misconceptions about same sex relationships, apparently in an effort to convince the audience of the inferiority of these relationships. Loveless claimed that LGBT people often had thousands of sexual partners, and compared relationships between consenting adults to pedophilia. Wardle also compared peaceful “No on 8” protests to the night that Nazis assaulted Jewish neighborhoods sending over 100,000 Jews to their death in concentration camps.

These Eastman “forums” also included professors who support lifting the ban on marriages for gays and lesbians; a fact that Eastman seems to believe legitimizes the conversation. His “money line,” highlighted above, presumes that his arguments are “intellectual”–as opposed to ignorant at best and malicious at worst. Though I have heard him repeat that opposition to equal rights does not automatically constitute “bigotry” or “hatred,” I have never heard him offer an alternative justification. Arguments chocked full of dehumanizing mischaracterizations are, in fact, anti-intellectual.  The fact that these men are teachers and deans and wear suits does not mean that their opinions are “scholarly.” The Senators who filibustered for 57 days in an attempt to derail the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 were not wearing their white sheets either.

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Photo by Corey Clark

Photo by Corey Clark

So much to write about, so little attention span. Here are the highlights:

Orange County, of all places, is lighting up the scoreboard for equal rights. Chapman University School of Law has been a hotbed of controversy these past few months. The brief supported and signed by several Chapman staff, faculty, and students was recently joined by the President of the entire University. The University President, along with a Trustee, filed a joinder application asking the court to include them in the brief filed in support of overturning Prop 8.

03/02/2009      Order filed     The application of Chapman University President James Doti and Chapman University Trustee Wyle Aitken to join in the amicus curiae brief filed by Individual Chapman University Organizations et al. in support of petitioners is hereby granted.

The dean of the law school, John Eastman, responded to this news by filing his own joinder motion to be included in a brief filed in support of Prop 8. Apparently, the dean feels that the proposition is not discriminatory. Eastman was instrumental in the filing of a previous amicus brief supporting the Proposition. Although this brief was allegedly not affiliated with the University, it uses the University’s address.

Chapman law held another “symposium” to discuss Prop 8 on February 27th.  We have all come to expect these things to be propagandist in nature. Indeed this event included a BYU law professor who compared peaceful no on 8 demonstrations to “kristallnacht,” the night that Nazis stormed through Jewish neighborhoods, ransacked homes and businesses, and rounded up tens of thousands of Jews to be sent to concentration camps. Ludicrous, but expected–this is the OC after all.

What could not have been expected were the thoughtful and stirring challenges to this establishment made by professors who understand that equal rights is an issue of civil rights. Professors like Katherine B. Darmer, one of the principal drafters of the amicus brief supporting the overturning of Prop 8, spoke to rousing applause and a standing ovation (the BYU professor speech evoked mainly laughter from the audience). The school’s paper wrote an article summarizing this event and highlighting the polarity of Eastman’s opinions–even when compared to the conservative school’s leaders. You can view video tape of the symposium at the school’s website.

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The deadline for briefs to be filed with the California Supreme Court in the case to overturn Proposition 8 has come and gone. The court has accepted several amicus, or “Friend of the Court,” briefs, including one filed by several members of the state’s ultra-conservative, Orange County.

Ever since the controversial ballot measure stripped rights from a minority group in California, Orange County residents have been forming grass roots coalitions that support equal rights for all. Upstart, Orange County Equality Coalition (OCEC), has hundreds of new members organizing around community education, faith based coalition building, political campaigning, and legal advocacy. OCEC’s legal committee teamed up with Chapman University Law School’s LGBT group, Outlaw, to spearhead the drafting of an amicus brief supporting the petitioner’s request that the court overturn Proposition 8.

This filing is momentous not just for conservative Orange County, but also in response to an earlier filing sponsored by the head of Chapman’s law school, John Eastman, in support of Proposition 8. TheGreatestofThese wrote about Eastman’s filing in a previous post and blogged about the Dean’s financial support for Proposition 8 here.

In spite of this, Chapman lawyers, faculty, staff, and students joined OCEC and other community organizations, as well as several community members, such as UC Irvine law school Dean, Erwin Chemerinsky, in this filing. All in all, the brief includes over 70 named Amici, representing more than 500 people. Of themselves, they say this:

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The five main arguments put forth in the brief are as follows:

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Those who penned the brief are far smarter than I, so I will let the document speak for itself. Let me just point out that the DOMA section (#4) directly tackles an argument put forth in Eastman’s brief; the first few arguments (#1 & 2) deal handily with the perversion of history set forth in the anti-equality filings; and the Constitutional Oath argument (#5) presents a completely new angle from which to view Prop 8. It reads, in part:

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amicusarticle_4It goes on to say:

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Amen.

The entire brief has been attached to this website as a PDF. You can also read the declarations PDF here—these are the personal stories of some of the people (amici) who signed onto this filing.

Good to know there’s still some LOVE in the OC.

UPDATE: The entire brief has been posted on the California Supreme Court’s Prop 8 Filings page. Scroll down to “Individual Chapman University Organizations et al., in Support of Petitioners” to read the brief. The declarations are below the next heading and named “Appendix in Support of Amicus Curaie Brief of Individual Chapman University Organizations et al.,.”

button-give-us-this-day-lgIn a recent post, I made a list of the “Must Dos” for marriage equality this holiday season. One of the things I am doing this year is asking family to give me “the gift of equality” by supporting non-profit, legal organizations that are making the case for equal marriage rights around the country. My personal favorite is Lambda Legal.

If you are in southern California, come join us tonight for a Christmas card writing party and ask your family and friends to do the same. The details are as follows:

Orange County Equality Coalition and Chapman University’s OUTLAW Present:

“Give The Gift of Equality”

Wednesday Dec. 17th

6-9pm

(open house: come and go as you please)

Chapman University Law School

Room 379

We will be writing holiday cards to friends and family asking them to show their support for marriage equality.

We will ask friends and family to “give the gift of equality” by donating to one of four organizations.

Lambda Legal, ACLU, EQCA and Change.org and to also show their support for marriage equality by wearing a white knot.

Please Bring: Address Book, Holiday Cards, Envelopes, Extra Pens and Stamps

We will provide:

*Food & Beverages*

Stamps, White Knots, Donation Information

Because everyone should be able to tie the knot.

Because everyone should be able to tie the knot.

If you would like more information or to become a member of Orange County Equality Coalition, send an email with your interest and pertinent info to ocequality@gmail.com.