Dueling arguments

gavel2Earlier this week, the California Supreme Court heard arguments for and against Californians' right to define marriage as a union of one man and one woman. There are many reports about those oral arguments and almost every account says that the justices seemed inclined to uphold the voters' decision in passing Proposition 8. Another issue being discussed was how to handle the 18,000 same-sex marriages that were entered into during the time prior to Proposition 8's passing and after the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. All the news accounts agree that the court seems inclined toward upholding the legality of those marriages.

Here's the New York Times. Here's the San Francisco Chronicle. Both accounts are good, but I rather enjoyed the extensive coverage provided by the Los Angeles Times. The paper's recap of the arguments is incredibly extensive. It almost reads like a play by play. Here's a sample:

Justice Ming W. Chin raised an argument by some scholars that the court could uphold Proposition 8 but require the state to replace the term "marriage" with another name, such as "civil union."

"Is that a viable solution and is that really within the province of this court?" Chin asked skeptically.

Michael Maroko, representing one of the same-sex couples, was blunt.

"If you're in the marriage business, do it equally," he said. If same-sex couples cannot marry, "then straight couples don't have that right either."

It is interesting that the story is almost completely from the perspective of the attorneys who fought Proposition 8. In fact, the second paragraph says:

The long-awaited hearing, which came as dueling demonstrators chanted and carried banners outside, was a disappointment for gay rights lawyers.

We don't even hear from the other side's attorneys until the 41st paragraph. That has to be a record.

For a story with a larger religion angle, try "Loudly and colorfully, opposing sides debate Proposition 8," which covers how various interested parties watched the court proceedings at parties and in the public square:

Reporting from San Francisco -- God was in the eye of the beholder Thursday morning at the San Francisco Civic Center Plaza, where hundreds of spectators gathered to watch the California Supreme Court on a massive outdoor TV screen and wrangle over the sanctity of marriage.

The occasion: Attorneys from both sides of the gay-marriage debate were arguing the merits -- or demerits -- of Proposition 8, the November ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage in California. The dress code: dreadlocks, nose rings, rabbit costumes, clerical collars, wedding veils, hair colors not found in nature (and some that were), rainbow stripes, American flags, suits. The demeanor: loud.

"You're bigger, God, much bigger than the small religious boxes that we put you in," Bishop Yvette Flunder of San Francisco's City of Refuge United Church of Christ declared at an al fresco, pre-hearing interfaith service. "We ask you for the freedom today . . . to have our relationships boldly without fear of reprisal."

The story also looks at people on the other side of the vote, including a 27-year old who hosted a party for her friends who voted in support of Prop. 8. It's good the story included her since she seems more like the average Prop. 8 voter than the characters and stereotypes who are usually included in Los Angeles Times' stories.

The paper also had reporters updating the LA Now blog with news from throughout the day. It made for interesting reading. You can hear more from Bishop Flunder here, for instance.

Even with some of the problems, the coverage of the oral arguments was much more balanced than we've been accustomed to over the last few years.

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