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Back to the Future: Uses of History in Newspapers and Judicial Records on Marriage Equality
Unformatted Document Text:  to procreate.” Id. at 956. “Cott: Historically, legitimating children was a very important function of marriage, especially among propertied families. Today, legitimation is less important.” Id. at 961. 105 Def.-Intervenors’ Trial Mem., supra note 78, 1:3-5. 106 Id. 107 Id. at 3:4-5. 108 “The evidence did not show any historical purpose for excluding same-sex couples from marriage, as states have never required spouses to have an ability or willingness to procreate in order to marry. Rather, the exclusion exists as an artifact of a time when the genders were seen as having distinct roles in society and in marriage. That time has passed.” See Perry, 704 F. Supp. at 993. “Cott: The move to no-fault divorce underlines the fact that marriage no longer requires specific performance of one marital role or another based on gender.” Id. at 959. Also: “One of Walker's strongest points was that traditional notions of marriage can no longer be used to justify discrimination, just as gender roles in opposite-sex marriage have changed dramatically over the decades.” Editorial, Marriage Is a Constitutional Right, N.Y. T IMES , Aug. 5, 2010, at A26. 109 See Perry, 704 F. Supp. at 975. 110 Id. at 945. 111 Supporters of the proposition did imply, at one point in the trial memorandum, that marriage occupies a special social space: “[B]oth historically and today, many societies and governments—throughout the United States and the world—that embrace same-sex relationships and/or strongly affirm gay and lesbian rights have nevertheless determined that same-sex relationships should not be recognized as marriages.” Def.-Intervenors’ Trial Mem., 13:23-24, supra note 82, 14:1-2. Their statement could be interpreted to be an acknowledgement of the unique symbolism of marriage as constructed by supporters of marriage equality, or it could be interpreted to be a concession made in order to avoid sounding discriminatory. As Robert Shrum, a senior adviser to John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign, told the New York Times, ''People have got … increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of rank discrimination based on someone's sexuality.” Jesse McKinley, Gay Marriage Hits ’10 Race, N.Y. T IMES , Aug. 6, 2010, at A10. 112 See Perry, 704 F. Supp. at 939. 113 Id. 114 Id. at 936, 939, 972. 115 Id. at 939-40. 116 Id. at 970. 117 Id. 118 Id. at 971. 119 “Proposition 8 had a peculiar effect: it removed only the honored stature of ‘marriage’ from same-sex couples, yet altered none of their state constitutional rights to the traditional incidents of marriage, including the right to form a family and raise children.” See Resp. Br., supra note 103, at 1:15-18. 120 “The vote was the latest in a succession of setbacks for advocates of gay marriage across the country. … Last month, a similar measure was defeated in New York’s Legislature, and in November voters in Maine repealed a gay-marriage law in a referendum.” David Kocieniewski, Odds Against Gay Marriage Grow With Setback in Trenton, N.Y. T IMES , Jan. 5, 2010, at A16. “The case was initially met with skepticism by some in the gay rights community, who feared that a loss at a federal level could set back their efforts to gain wider recognition for same-sex marriage, which is legal in five states and the District of Columbia.” Jesse McKinley, Tart Questions at Same-Sex Marriage Trial’s Closing, N.Y. T IMES , Jun. 17, 2010, at A15. “The district’s decision to allow same-sex marriage is a victory for gay and lesbian rights groups after successive defeats of legislation in New York, Maine and Texas and the upholding of Proposition 8 in California last year. Gay marriages have been legalized in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut and Vermont.” See Tan, supra note 75. 121 See Editorial, supra note 108. 122 A comparison of Loving, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), and Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003). 123 Jesse McKinley & John Schwartz, CALIFORNIA’S BAN ON GAY MARRIAGE IS STRUCK DOWN, N.Y. T IMES , Aug. 5, 2010, at A1. 124 Ross Douthat, The Marriage Ideal, N.Y. T IMES , Aug. 9, 2010, at A19. 125 Id. 126 See McKinley & Schwartz, supra note 123. Jon Cowan & Evan Wolfson, A GOP Surprise; The Republican Party has quietly dropped its usual anti-gay election-year demagoguery, L.A. T IMES , Oct. 13, 2010, at A 21. 127 “As head of the Republican National Committee, Mr. Mehlman advocated the Bush administration's push for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, which Republicans had hoped would galvanize the party's conservative base in 2006.” Kate Zernike, Conservatives’ Focus on Fiscal Matters Means Few Care About a Gay Republican, N.Y. T IMES , Aug. 27, 2010, at A9. 128 “Richard Socarides, who advised President Bill Clinton on gay rights issues, said that this decision could be used as a rallying cry for Republicans again.” See McKinley & Schwartz, supra note 123. 129 See McKinley, supra note 111. Also, “Brian S. Brown, the executive director of the National Organization for Marriage … called the decision the beginning of a ‘major national culture war.’” Id. 130 Sheryl Gay Stolberg, After Fall of ‘Don’t Ask,’ Pushing for ‘I Do, N.Y. T IMES , Dec. 21, 2010, at A22. 131 The discourse has shifted away from individually elected public officials: “Had a former chairman of the

Authors: Li, Anqi.
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to procreate.” Id. at 956. “Cott: Historically, legitimating children was a very important function of marriage, especially 
among propertied families. Today, legitimation is less important.” Id. at 961. 
105
 Def.-Intervenors’ Trial Mem., supra note 78, 1:3-5. 
106
 Id. 
107
 Id. at 3:4-5.
108
 “The evidence did not show any historical purpose for excluding same-sex couples from marriage, as states 
have never required spouses to have an ability or willingness to procreate in order to marry. Rather, the exclusion exists 
as an artifact of a time when the genders were seen as having distinct roles in society and in marriage. That time has 
passed.” See Perry, 704 F. Supp. at 993. “Cott: The move to no-fault divorce underlines the fact that marriage no longer 
requires specific performance of one marital role or another based on gender.” Id. at 959. Also: “One of Walker's 
strongest points was that traditional notions of marriage can no longer be used to justify discrimination, just as gender 
roles in opposite-sex marriage have changed dramatically over the decades.” Editorial, Marriage Is a Constitutional 
Right
, N.Y. T
IMES
, Aug. 5, 2010, at A26.
109
 See Perry, 704 F. Supp. at 975.
110
 Id. at 945.
111
 Supporters of the proposition did imply, at one point in the trial memorandum, that marriage occupies a 
special social space: “[B]oth historically and today, many societies and governments—throughout the United States and 
the world—that embrace same-sex relationships and/or strongly affirm gay and lesbian rights have nevertheless 
determined that same-sex relationships should not be recognized as marriages.” Def.-Intervenors’ Trial Mem., 13:23-
24, supra note 82, 14:1-2. Their statement could be interpreted to be an acknowledgement of the unique symbolism of 
marriage as constructed by supporters of marriage equality, or it could be interpreted to be a concession made in order 
to avoid sounding discriminatory. As Robert Shrum, a senior adviser to John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign, told 
the New York Times, ''People have got … increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of rank discrimination based on 
someone's sexuality.” Jesse McKinley, Gay Marriage Hits ’10 Race, N.Y. T
IMES
, Aug. 6, 2010, at A10.
112
 See Perry, 704 F. Supp. at 939.
113
 Id.
114
 Id. at 936, 939, 972. 
115
 Id. at 939-40.
116
 Id. at 970.
117
 Id.
118
 Id. at 971. 
119
 “Proposition 8 had a peculiar effect: it removed only the honored stature of ‘marriage’ from same-sex 
couples, yet altered none of their state constitutional rights to the traditional incidents of marriage, including the right to 
form a family and raise children.” See Resp. Br., supra note 103, at 1:15-18.
120
 “The vote was the latest in a succession of setbacks for advocates of gay marriage across the country. … 
Last month, a similar measure was defeated in New York’s Legislature, and in November voters in Maine repealed a 
gay-marriage law in a referendum.”
 
David Kocieniewski, Odds Against Gay Marriage Grow With Setback in Trenton
N.Y. T
IMES
, Jan. 5, 2010, at A16.  “The case was initially met with skepticism by some in the gay rights community, 
who feared that a loss at a federal level could set back their efforts to gain wider recognition for same-sex marriage, 
which is legal in five states and the District of Columbia.” Jesse McKinley, Tart Questions at Same-Sex Marriage 
Trial’s Closing
, N.Y. T
IMES
, Jun. 17, 2010, at A15. “The district’s decision to allow same-sex marriage is a victory for 
gay and lesbian rights groups after successive defeats of legislation in New York, Maine and Texas and the upholding 
of Proposition 8 in California last year. Gay marriages have been legalized in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Iowa, 
Connecticut and Vermont.” See Tan, supra note 75.
121
 See Editorial, supra note 108.
122
 A comparison of Loving, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), and Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003). 
123
 Jesse McKinley & John Schwartz, CALIFORNIA’S BAN ON GAY MARRIAGE IS STRUCK DOWN, N.Y. 
T
IMES
Aug. 5, 2010, at A1.
124
 Ross Douthat, The Marriage Ideal, N.Y. T
IMES
, Aug. 9, 2010, at A19. 
125
 Id. 
126
 See McKinley & Schwartz, supra note 123. Jon Cowan & Evan Wolfson, A GOP Surprise; The Republican 
Party has quietly dropped its usual anti-gay election-year demagoguery, L.A. T
IMES
, Oct. 13, 2010, at A 21. 
127
 “As head of the Republican National Committee, Mr. Mehlman advocated the Bush administration's push 
for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, which Republicans had hoped would galvanize the party's 
conservative base in 2006.” Kate Zernike, Conservatives’ Focus on Fiscal Matters Means Few Care About a Gay  
Republican
, N.Y. T
IMES
, Aug. 27, 2010, at A9. 
128
 “Richard Socarides, who advised President Bill Clinton on gay rights issues, said that this decision could be 
used as a rallying cry for Republicans again.” See McKinley & Schwartz, supra note 123.
129
 See McKinley, supra note 111. Also, “Brian S. Brown, the executive director of the National Organization 
for Marriage … called the decision the beginning of a ‘major national culture war.’” Id.
130
 Sheryl Gay Stolberg, After Fall of ‘Don’t Ask,’ Pushing for ‘I Do, N.Y. T
IMES
, Dec. 21, 2010, at A22.
131
 The discourse has shifted away from individually elected public officials: “Had a former chairman of the 


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