Update 3:58 p.m. Pacific Time | While Thursday morning’s testimony tended toward tax revenues and city budget concerns, the tone of the afternoon’s proceedings shifted to more esoteric academic themes with names like “structural stigma” and “minority stress.”
The plaintiffs called Ilan H. Meyer, an associate professor of clinical socio-medical sciences at Columbia University, to the stand to illustrate how Proposition 8 harms the mental health of gay men and lesbians and undermines their right to equal protection under the law.
In his research, Dr. Meyer used the term “structural stigma” to describe being denied access to a right which, for society, has symbolic meaning. “Young children do not aspire to be domestic partners,” said Dr. Meyer. “Marriage is a common, socially approved goal.”
“In your view is Proposition 8 a form of structural stigma?” asked Christopher Dean Dusseault, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.
“Yes, Proposition 8 denies gays and lesbians access to the institution of marriage,” said Dr. Meyer. “We are raised to think that there are certain things that we want to achieve in life. Proposition 8 says that gays and lesbians cannot reach that goal.”
Gays and lesbians also suffer what Dr. Meyer calls “minority stress,” or stress resulting from prejudice, stigma, and discrimination. Such stress can result from obvious discriminatory acts like name calling, or from more subtle stresses like those experienced by long-time same-sex partners when filling in a form with categories limited to, “married,” “single,” or “divorced,” said Dr. Meyer.
Next up, cross-examination.
Original Post 12:14 p.m. Pacific Time | On Wednesday afternoon, lawyers for the plaintiffs in Perry v. Schwarzenegger focused on the social impact of same-sex marriages. On Thursday, the discussion turned to economics.
Edmund A. Egan, the chief economist for the City and County of San Francisco, was the first witness. Christine Van Aken, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, focused her questions on what she called the “material
economic impact” of same-sex marriage on the city and county.
“I’ve identified several ways in which the prohibition of same-sex marriage has a negative economic impact on San Francisco,” Mr. Egan said. “If same-sex marriage were legalized, you would see an increase in number of married couples. Married individuals tend to accumulate more wealth than single individuals.”
During his testimony, Mr. Egan said the legalization of same-sex marriage would bolster the local economy by increasing consumer spending, sales tax revenue and property tax revenue. He also said that legalizing same-sex marriages would increase the number of employers extending health insurance coverage to married same-sex partners, thus decreasing the amount of money the city spends on the uninsured.
“Married individuals are healthier on average and behave themselves in healthier ways than single individuals,” Mr. Egan said. “There is a well-known connection in economics between the health of work force and work-force productivity. Higher productivity leads to higher wages, and higher wages lead to higher taxes for the city.”
Mr. Egan described same-sex weddings as a kind of gold rush for the city, saying they would mean an additional $35 million a year in spending.
Peter A. Patterson, a defense lawyer who handled the cross-examination, questioned the methodology used to project the number of same-sex marriages that would occur in the city in the future. “You assume that same sex-couples will get married at a similar rate?” Mr. Patterson asked, referring to the number of same-sex couples who married in California between May and November of 2008 ...
Mr. Patterson suggested that the high number of same-sex marriages during that period represented “pent-up demand” and not a long-term trend the city could depend on for income.