Dear Charles Cooper: We could be friends

Dear Charles Cooper;

I think I started to like you when Leanne pointed out your cuff links at yesterday’s trial.   To watch the trial, I was sitting in the overflow room behind a personal hero of mine, Kate Kendell, executive director at National Center for Lesbian Rights, and I know she has been known to sport some pretty excellent cuff links as well. I, too, like cuff links. It’s really silly, I know, but I get excited when I think: This is something we all have in common!

Sitting behind Kate Kendell and Melanie Rowan of NCLR

Sitting behind Kate Kendell and Melanie Rowan of NCLR

When we left the overflow room shortly after the hearing ended at noon, we walked up the hallway to the real trial room to just peek inside.  At that exact moment you were walking out of the room. You looked tired – you had obviously been working hard.  We ran away to sort of hide – then we were concerned we might be in the same elevator as you on the way down.  You instead went to the Men’s room first so we were spared that situation.

My view of Charles Cooper on the video from the overflow room

My view of Charles Cooper on the video from the overflow room - terrible phone picture I know

Afterward I felt guilty:  running away is silly.  I wonder what it would be like to talk with you.   I would have tried to shake your hand and I would have asked about your cuff links and probably found some nice things to say.  Maybe we’d later have a drink together.  I could show you San Francisco from some of my favorite views. You’d meet our beautiful daughter…

I’ve dreamed this sort of thing before.  I just wanted to dream it out loud a little longer.  For the sake of my daughter’s future — our future. It could happen.

Thank you,

-m

PS: Here are the rulings from the trial, out today (the following day). You lost on both counts. How I wish I could help you know it’s going to be OK.

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This Week in Video and Politics

I’ve been working on an internal video sharing platform at work for over a year, and now everything from music to politics to diversity to news to family and more directly seems to relate to video sharing platforms.

This week, two videos in particular have caught my interest at the intersection of Video and Politics. Let’s start with Charlie Crist:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4k13LmlcUE%5D

A colleague passed along the news story behind this to me: Crist, Byrne settle lawsuit over campaign song.

We know a bit about the potential issues of music copyright infringement through our work on our video project, so it’s surprising that this video was ever made. Charlie Crist should have known better when he used the Talking Heads’ song Road To Nowhere in his campaign ad, but in the realities of political campaigning he (or likely his campaign) could well have realized a “cease and desist” order might not have even taken effect until the campaign was long over.  Seems anything goes in the fast lawless heat of political campaigns.

On the other hand, Prop 8 proponents are targeting Judge Vaughn Walker over his public use of videotapes from the trial in the long long journey of Prop 8 through the courts. Seems back on February 18, at an event on courts and new media in Arizona, Judge Walker delivered a session called Shooting the Messenger: How Cameras in the Courtroom Got a Bad Wrap, and during that session he showed pieces of the videotaped trial, including testimony from a Prop 8 proponent.  C-SPAN was there to record it, which amounted essentially to “broadcasting the testimony on TV,” which is of course what the Prop 8  folks never wanted in the first place.  Since a stern motion about this apparent “illegal” release of videotape was delivered today, you should watch it there while you can (I can’t get a version with embed strings but will come back and embed if I find one).

The Ninth Circuit Court later had no problem showing the Prop 8 trial live on C-SPAN. You can watch it in its entirety to this day:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tO_HoF1EBfw%5D

Beyond Walker’s district court however there are no live witnesses to testify. All records of people’s motivations are preserved back in the district court.

For the moment let’s ignore the the obvious question “What do Prop 8 proponents continue to want to hide?” I used to think that The Law was one of the next biggest areas of disruption in the “Web 2.0” space. Now that I’m involved in a video project, naturally I think video is the current huge disruption in politics.

Of course — none of these things are new, but whereas Law seems to be purposefully designed to be slow in a fast-media world, Politics is far from it.  A quick campaign ad released the day before an election can change its course.  Thankfully, checks and balances are however still in tact. A targeted attack on a meticulously prepared, thoroughly researched and fairly tried case (or the relevance of the case’s judge’s sexuality) will amount to nothing except passing fancy in the “court of public opinion.”

Video however? Video can reveal to anyone who cares to see the real motivations behind Prop 8 as revealed in the courtroom from its proponents under testimony, and you can try to pull it down, but the record is cast. The Internet will continue to remember. And we’re here to see it.

Prop 8 Trial Closing Arguments: What really separates you from me?

Charles Cooper and Judge Vaughn Walker: view from the overflow2 room

Charles Cooper and Judge Vaughn Walker: view from the overflow2 room

My wife and I arrived at the Federal Building an hour before the closing arguments began at 10am, but by then we were already number 30 in a line waiting to get into the overflow room. We were told the overflow room was full and only press could reserve passes. By 10am, the line to get in looked to be 150 people at least – and luckily they had opened an additional two overflow rooms.

So we had plenty of time while standing in line to talk to people around us.  Though we were mostly too full of nerves to talk, we did meet one really nice guy behind us in line and talked about the trial, and about how my wife and I wish we could just invite the people who don’t want us to marry over for cocktails so we could really talk to each other and see how we are alike and how we are different. He told us he’d also be honored to have us over to visit him and his wife.

We finally all got in to overflow room nr. 2 and Leanne and I tweeted the entire way till the trial concluded at 4pm.  (There were brief breaks — we rode the elevator UP with David Boies; we rode the elevator UP with Cleve Jones and Dustin Lance Black; we got to talk to the many great NCLR folks there… we felt starstruck).

Charles Cooper - speaking after intro from Andy Pugno (to his right) and before Ron Prentice (to his left)

Charles Cooper - speaking at press conference after intro from Andy Pugno (to his right) and before Ron Prentice (to his left)

There’s obviously much of record there and much to say about what Olson and Cooper and Walker said during the trial — and there’ll be much written elsewhere, now and for a long while to come — but to me the most amazing thing happened after the trial so I want to write this now.

Thanks to Marriage Equality USA’s Molly Mckay, we got into the press conference right after the trial. We immediately met the smiling man we had shared the “nr. 30” spot in line with before the trial, and he gave us a big hug.  I then asked him what his interest was in being there — “I work at the California Family Council and with Ron Prentice at Protect Marriage,” he said.  To my other side was Kate Kendell, tireless and amazing director of NCLR, and to this side was “the enemy.” And we were already friends.  It was an amazing and bizarre moment.

Olson: "Our clients - they're not plaintiffs, they're human beings who stand for everyone"

Olson: "Our clients - they're not plaintiffs, they're human beings who stand for everyone"

As I listened to “his side” talk at the press conference about the wrongs people like us were doing to people like my daughter, I kept receiving pictures on my cell phone of my daughter, who was at that moment twirling with a friend in the playground in the brilliant light. And he and my wife and I kept talking about our families, and re-extended the invitations to visit. We shared pictures of beautiful family. I thought about the truly thin line that separates “our side” from “their side” and what in the end we are really fighting for.  I felt like the future is a bright light toward which we run, and one day none of this will matter anymore.  We’ll be beyond.

When shall we learn what should be clear as day

We cannot choose what we are free to love

W.H. Auden