Post submitted by Adam Talbot, former HRC Deputy Communications Director

Two days after the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in the marriage equality case Obergefell v. Hodges, the Human Rights Campaign joined with the legal team from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher that challenged California’s ban on marriage equality to highlight key testimony from Hollingsworth v. Perry which shows that marriage between same-sex couples has a lengthy history, stretching back thousands of years.

“The fact that gays and lesbians form loving, committed, and stable relationships is not new,” said Ted Boutrous, partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher who played a critical role in the Prop 8 case. “During the Prop. 8 trial we introduced into evidence testimony from the proponents’ own experts recognizing that same-sex marriages have existed for centuries.  A decision affirming for all the freedom to marry both dignifies gay and lesbian couples and honors the history of marriage.”

During the first ever trial challenging a same-sex marriage ban – Proposition 8 in California – proponents of the discriminatory legislation called Katherine Young, a professor of religious studies at McGill University, as an expert witness.

In her testimony, however, Professor Young detailed the history of marriage equality, saying that India, China, parts of North America and Ancient Rome all had forms of same-sex marriage. “[T]here are many other examples of same-sex relationships,” she testified. “I’m using the examples of where there was some kind of formal recognition in the context of what we could call marriage. . . . So, we could go into the long history of same-sex relationships of which there would be quite a large... quite a long history and quite a large anthropological study.”

Her deposition testimony helped became part of the trial record and was relied on by then-Chief Judge Vaughn Walker as part of his landmark decision striking down Prop. 8.


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