January 12, 2010 | by Karen Ocamb
Watching the Prop 8 trial, part 3

Special to DC Agenda
For more on the Prop 8 trial, visit lgbtpov.com

There are far fewer people in the courtroom this morning. A couple of die-hard journalists: Associated Press reporter Lisa Leff, plus reporters from Newsweek and a local PBS station.

Also, there seem to be far fewer lawyers for the defense and more lawyers for the plaintiffs.

Harvard University professor Nancy Cott is back on the stand and while her testimony on the history of marriage is very interesting, she goes on so much that Judge Vaughn Walker has intervened and said the plaintiff’s questioner, Theodore Boutrous Jr., had to get a question in there some time.

One of the most interesting points Cott raised so far is that the nation’s Founding Fathers knew that George Washington was sterile and that figured into the deliberations to make him president so he couldn’t establish a dynasty like the one against which the colonists had rebelled.

Boutrous also asked the professor about whether same-sex marriage would affect divorce rates. She said:

My only comment is from observing my own state of Massachusetts, where there has been same-sex marriage for five years. Massachusetts has [the] lowest divorce rate in country. Since five years ago, [the] divorce rate has fluctuated slightly, but if anything, [it] is lower.

Some of us chuckled. But there’s far less laughter today.

Cott is now being questioned by the defense, who is reading into the record all sorts of articles — including, just before we recessed, the Los Angeles Times op-ed by David Blankenhorn that I mentioned in a previous post.

One defense attorney seems to feel that just by raising his voice and punctuating certain words, he’s making some important point. It escapes most of us. Some say he’s just winding up; others are shaking their heads and wondering where he’s headed with this.

But Cott has gotten a lot quieter and has even refused to answer or dodged certain questions that seem easy to the peanut gallery. She’s the one who asked for the break: “Judge Walker, I think I have a right to a break.”

Will get back at lunch with more.

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