A Tale of Two Trials

Proposition 8 Trial Plaintiffs

The Robert Wone case, the Prop 8 trial and the Portrayal of Family

On one coast is a trial to determine the guilt of a few, while at the same time,on the other coast, is another trial that has the potential to impact literally millions.  The trial on the east coast seeks to limit the freedom of a few as a means of punishment, while the west coast trial seeks to expand freedom.

On the surface, the scope of these two trials couldn’t be more different.  But at the center of each of these cases is the definition of family, particularly gay families.

The trial to overturn California’s Proposition 8, a ballot amendment that banned  same-sex couples from marrying, reached its denouement with closing arguments this week.  The obstruction of justice trial into the murder of Robert Wone in Washington, DC is rapidly reaching its own conclusion with the prosecution resting its case this week and the defense case being far shorter than expected.

How are these families portrayed?

In the San Francisco courthouse, gay families are portrayed as loving, two person couples whose right to marry is an inalienable right that is being denied.  The plaintiffs in this case, one a gay couple, the other a lesbian pair, support the notion that gay couples are similar to heterosexual couples in living in a monogamous coupling situation.

In the Washington, DC courthouse, the gay family on trial is not a couple, but a self-admitted “polyamorous” relationship involving three gay men, who describe themselves as a family.  The defense counsel describes them as a “cohesive unit,” a term the strips any emotion and intimate bonding from its definition.

The prosecution portrays this family as emotionally intimate, but also, through testimony and e-mails, as conniving and  developing alliances of two to the exclusion of the other.  And, if three wasn’t enough, this three-way is not portrayed as sexually exclusive to those involved, but also to have a broader and more fungible relationship with another man testifying that he slept with two of the three defendants before the murder, and one afterwards.

Without question, portrayals of gay families are on full public display this week.  The definition of gay families in both of these cases couldn’t be farther apart than the country that separates these two trials.  Neither are fully accurate, nor true.  They are snapshots — committed, loving, cohesive, conniving —  of gay lives designed to reach a legal goal, but are they who gay families really are?

In the Proposition 8 case, it is sad and unfortunate that gay families must be painted as coming in one type of model, “the loving, monogamous, committed couple” in order to secure a basic civil right that is already granted to all heterosexuals. The pressure to portray your private life in such a public way can and must be unbearable.  Julie and Hillary Goodridge from Massachusetts, the couple that began the same-sex marriage ball rolling in our nation withered under the public spotlight and divorced shortly after winning their right to marry.

It it sad and wrong that the defense is left with having to strip any bonds of intimacy from the definition of the Swann Street family when they describe them as “cohesive unit.”  They are not in the business of manufacturing a product, but rather are family like any other as they traverse  the verisimilitudes of life.  In order to win an acquittal for their clients, the defense has decided to limit as much discussion of gay family, and when then do, strip it of all meaning.

It is sad and wrong that the prosecution must resort to looking at the inner workings of family from the outside because they believe the defendants are not telling the full truth and lying to protect one another.

Whatever the case, never before has such different portrayals of gay families been on display in one week.  And neither probably gets at what we all know to be the truth of family — they are messy, they are happy, they are sad, they are united and they are divided — all at the same time.  They come in many shapes and sizes.  And to look at just a snapshot of them, whether to earn a basic civil right, or a conviction in a criminal trial, does a great disservice to the value that families provides.

— Posted by David

96 comments for “A Tale of Two Trials

  1. anoninny (not currently)
    06/19/2010 at 3:16 PM

    On the West Coast, an apple. On the East Coast, an orange. OMG, they are both fruits! So similar, yet somehow, almost incomprehensibly different…

    typical off-day stuff for WMRW editors…

    • Bill Orange
      06/19/2010 at 3:23 PM

      “OMG, they are both fruits!”

      In more ways than one.

      • Craig
        06/19/2010 at 3:39 PM

        Although I can’t vouch for fruit, David assures us that no steaks were harmed in the writing of this post.

        Are those clever west coast showiz types still doing reenactments of the Prop 8 case? That was a cool project, but I still think our offering from earlier this year may have done them one better. And we didn’t have to pay scale, provide the crew with hot and cold buffets or deal with any Teamsters.

        • galoon
          06/20/2010 at 12:46 AM

          Dude, you’re the best.

    • Grrr
      06/19/2010 at 5:40 PM

      You must be a doctor; all they do is complain.

      • Grrr
        06/19/2010 at 5:42 PM

        Sorry meant it for the aminomy whatever guy.

        • Bill Orange
          06/19/2010 at 6:22 PM

          No worries. As it turns out, I AM a doctor, and all I do is complain. 😉

          • SJinNYC
            06/22/2010 at 7:27 AM

            Are you really a doctor? What kind?

  2. CC Biggs
    06/19/2010 at 3:29 PM

    When people worry about gay marriage, they worry about situations precisely like the Swann Street “family.” The definition of marriage may not be set in stone, but if it is expanded to include this type of bizarre, three-way polyamorous relationship — with the biological kids out of the house and third-party club sex in bounds — then the definition of marriage is totally meaningless.

    • Bob
      06/19/2010 at 5:14 PM

      Yes. The Swann Street “family” was or is a very strange “family”. However, the Swann Street trial is only indirectly about a very strange family. It is really about an unsolved murder committed in the home of that family.

      The California trial really is about what sorts of families should be considered sufficiently normal or “non-strange” that the state should provide them with legal status.

      • BadShoes
        06/20/2010 at 10:33 AM

        As a reframing exercies, try substituting “cult” for “family,” and see which metaphor you think better fits the available facts.

        • Eagle
          06/20/2010 at 2:36 PM

          Substituting “cult” for “family” re: the trouple plus friends works better me.

    • bigfatmike
      06/19/2010 at 9:16 PM

      With all due respect,

      You seem to believe that if only some gays did not go beyond certain boundaries then it would be much easier for all gays. Perhaps there are some boundaries that should not be crossed. But, I believe you are far too optimistic when you judge the opposition, and greatly underestimate the task that remains.

      I am not a sociologist and I have no studies to back this up,
      but it seems to me that individuals who are offended by gay marriage are concerned with all gays and all gay marriage, not just the ones that you cite as questionable. Of course those who oppose gay marriage may use this kind of incident as ammunition in their opposition.

      That does not mean that criticism based on this incident is fair or reasonable. Hopefully, opposition will decrease with time as understanding grows.

      Finally you should put this where you can get to it when the verbal attacks and arguments come: crimes reflect on the criminal, not on the group to which the criminal belongs.

      The membership committee for gayness is not all that selective. The last I heard almost anybody can get in, which may be why these problems come up.

      And that means that Gays have many of the same problems that Hetero’s do. Does anybody really suppose that gays are the only ones who get high, or get kinky. If individuals who sell drugs and companies that sell kinky sex toys had to depend only on gays, they would probably go out of business. Sorry I have no studies to support that either – but can you doubt it?

      When you accept that this is somehow a gay problem that has to be explained by gays, it seems to me that you give up half the battle.

      Sorry to get on a soap box. But I really believe that the story of the tragic murder of Robert Wone is not about gay people. It is about the criminals who committed a heinous crime.

      Whether you agree with me or not, I think we can all agree that we all want to see the perpetrators of the crime brought to justice.

      • AnnaZed
        06/19/2010 at 10:23 PM

        Hear, hear!

        As a heterosexual person I can assure you that gay people have no monopoly or even a hegemony on kink, dysfunction, disloyalty (please!) or murder.

        [adopting my Jeremy Irons as Claus von Bülow voice] You have no idea.

        • Bob
          06/19/2010 at 11:53 PM

          Yes.

          Maybe you gay people have no idea how weird straight people can be. You probably do know how judgmental straight people can be about weird straight people. But maybe I shouldn’t use the word “straight”. The polygamy farm in Texas was every bit as kinky as 1509 Swann.

          I would like to drop the words “gay” and “straight”, because some heterosexual people are very crooked. But that won’t happen.

        • Liam
          06/20/2010 at 12:52 AM

          I can see no reason not to legalize gay marriage, and I can see no reason not to legalize marijuana.

      • Grrr
        06/20/2010 at 1:31 PM

        You are correct!

        Further, we ‘mo’s are not closing ranks and insisting that these people are innocent because they are our brothers. The gay thing only nuances a murder, more than likely committed by one or all of “the family.” (self-induced vomiting now). A murder, or obstruction, or whatever they are calling it these days, is still a murder.

        A kind talented young mans’ life was snuffed out and we want the truth, regardless of what sexual orientation these people are. That is integrity and we should all be proud.

    • Carolina
      06/20/2010 at 2:47 AM

      I’m always amused that people think marriage was ever anything more than the chance for the government to sell a license.

      The meaning of marriage? It’s whatever it is to YOU. For everyone else, they should kindly get their nose out of it.

      • BadShoes
        06/20/2010 at 9:52 AM

        Carolina-

        I think that is half right. Marriage is an emotional contract, but it is also a legal contract, akin to a partnership agreement. People who are legally married have various specific rights and duties. There are whole bodies of law that apply specifically to married people. If the emotional bond breaks down, or one partner dies, or there are offspring, the legal aspects of marriage can suddenly become very important.

        As you say, the government cannot create or destroy emotional bonds: only (prospective) spouses can do that.

        OTOH, only the law defines who can participate in marriage as a legal contract.

        • Carolina
          06/20/2010 at 10:31 AM

          Once upon a time, a couple simply proclaimed their status, or later, went before a priest. The entire notion of a government sanction came in as a way for the State to get a shilling to two from anyone who wanted to call themselves “married.”

          So it makes me want to smack a number of holier than thou talking heads when they propose that we not have the same rights as Brittney Spears and Casey Anthony. They’re so certain of God’s objection to something that began as something more closely related to a mortgage than a spiritual union, at least in the eyes of the State who devised that contract.

          • Bill 2
            06/20/2010 at 11:55 AM

            It’s the priest baloney that has it all screwed up. The government should be involved in the matter of legalizing the marriage contract in the same way they end the marriage contract (divorce). How many priests do you see presiding over a divorce court? The priest has no business being involved in business contracts.

            Further, it’s the government that unfortunately allows the priests to conduct a marriage. He marries “by the power invested in me by the State of (name)” not “by the power invested in me by God.” In many European nations, the bride and groom can have all the frou-frou crapola in church that they want but it doesn’t mean that they’re married. That’s the job of the government to put that contract in effect. The couple has to go to a government office to be legally married and it’s silly to imagine that it’s for the purpose of collecting a shilling or two.

            If this country didn’t allow clergy to perform a legal marriage, we would not have the Religious Reich pouring millions of dollars into banning same-sex marriage.

            The clergy keeps their people in line telling them that they promote “traditional marriage.” That’s a lie because they deliberately omit the part of history that shows there are many forms of traditional marriage.

            Going back a few centuries, traditional marriage included same-sex marriage, clergy marriage, and even trial marriage. The trial marriage was for a year and a day. On the final day, if either party wanted to end the marriage, all records of their union were eliminated as if the marriage had never existed.

            Not only do I want to see marriage equality, I want to see the government ban clergy from leagalizing business contracts. That’s a civil matter.

            • Carolina
              06/20/2010 at 2:07 PM

              I would say “amen,” but I’ll settle for “yes, exactly.”

    • Tribe97
      06/20/2010 at 9:01 PM

      But there are heterosexual marriages where the couple swings, are in open marriages and/or are otherwise involved in what would be viewed as comparable behavior to that of the trouple. Does that mean we should abrogate marriage altogether? I think not; the behavior of a few should not prevent others from enjoying the benefits of marriage, whether it be a same-sex marriage or a heterosexual marriage.

  3. AnnaZed
    06/19/2010 at 4:47 PM

    “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” ~ Count Leo Tolstoy

    • Bob
      06/19/2010 at 11:55 PM

      Count Tolstoy was a great writer, but he was wrong. Not all happy families are alike. Maybe all happy families in Russia in 1870 were alike because all families that didn’t follow the standard model of one husband, one wife, many children were rejected and so unhappy.

  4. tassojunior
    06/19/2010 at 4:50 PM

    There indeed is a second trial I can think of and I’m sure no one else will mention it. It is now the 1-year anniversary of this exact same United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia homicide division deciding that the murder of a homosexual in DC is punishable by a maximum of 180 days.

    Maybe I am ultra-liberal in today’s America where the Overton Window has swung somewhere to the right of Genghis Kahn but I do think that the murder of a person whether homosexual or heterosexual is just as serious. I do not understand, and do not want to, how this US Attorney’s Office decided that a homosexual’s life in DC is only worth 180 days or that “gay panic” is a get-out-of-jail-free card that anyone can use for committing crimes against homosexuals.

    http://rodonline.typepad.com/rodonline/2009/07/outrage-over-180day-maximum-sentence-and-gay-panic-defense-in-killing-of-maryland-man-.html

    • Bob
      06/19/2010 at 5:17 PM

      There was a miscarriage of justice in that case, but Tasso Junior is overstating the nature of the injustice. It wasn’t a decision about the murder of homosexual men in general, but about how to prosecute a particular death.

      I understand that you are bitter about the unsolved murder of a member of your family, but some of us want to discuss another unsolved murder.

      • Bob
        06/19/2010 at 5:26 PM

        Oh. I shouldn’t have replied. I forgot the advice not to feed the trolls.

        • CDinDC (Boycott BP)
          06/19/2010 at 5:56 PM

          He paints with very broad strokes.

    • Bill
      06/19/2010 at 9:38 PM

      I very much remember this case and sentencing last year. It was and remains appalling and I believe a direct expression of homophobia of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The defendant’s lawyer even successfully used the “gay panic” defense. With the current trial, this particular gay relationship appears as salacious.

      • tassojunior
        06/19/2010 at 11:56 PM

        The sentencing was the maximum allowed once Kirchner’s office decided that even in the most public and vicious of killings in front of many witnesses, only a misdemeanor was committed. The killer is back on our streets.

        Four homosexuals have been murdered in the area in the last few months. Fortunately in one, the murder of beloved principal Brian Betts the murderers traveled to his home in Silver Spring where killing a homosexual is considered a serious felony. They will be dealt justice. The three killings in DC have gotten about the effort a misdemeanor warrants.

        The defendants here may be innocent or guilty as hell. But having rabid homophobes controlling MPD homicide and the US Attorney’s Office for DC homicide office is a problem in a lot of ways.

        • Carolina
          06/20/2010 at 2:52 AM

          May I ask what you are doing about this?

          • Bob
            06/20/2010 at 11:21 AM

            What he is doing about this is flaming.

            • AnnaZed
              06/20/2010 at 11:59 AM

              Putting a whole new 21st century spin on the term flaming (sorry I couldn’t resist).

  5. 06/19/2010 at 5:42 PM

    All will agree murder is the most egregious crime one can commit in our society. One of its most sacred tenets is ‘innocent until proven guilty’, law enforcement by impartial individuals, and a fair trial.

    Society is lessened when someone is murdered such as Robert Wone was. It is not bettered by merciless character assassination such as this website.

    Today’s post by David shows desperation to provide entertainment rather than a service orientation toward mankind.

    • otterman
      06/19/2010 at 6:20 PM

      I think the editors have highlighted an interesting angle. Perhaps it’s a little bit strained, but on a hot, quiet day news-wise it’s not such a bad idea…

      And I’d give the editors a lot of latitude on this due to the incredible work they’ve been doing. Thanks guys!

      Thankfully most of the media I’ve seen haven’t really played up what some consider the more salacious interpersonal aspects of the case. I’m a gay man who has lived through more than a few successful and unsuccessful attempts at character assassination of other gay men for much more trivial reasons. So I’m waiting for someone(s) to use the facts of this case re: polyamorous trouple-dom to crank up the homophobia machine again, and to do so to the detriment of my gay brothers and sisters.

      • Carolina
        06/20/2010 at 2:54 AM

        To be fair, they’d do the same if it was a het trouple-dom.

    • Bea
      06/19/2010 at 6:31 PM

      Disagree with the insult to David. You may consider this “entertainment” but I applaud the Eds. efforts at “service orientation toward mankind” (without pay, without a break). Can you provide us with a run-down of your unpaid services to mankind?

    • Carolina
      06/20/2010 at 2:55 AM

      Pointless.

    • commonsensewillprevailihope
      06/20/2010 at 9:44 AM

      I hope this is the last post of this nature by the editors. Thanks overall to the editors but this was inappropriate.

  6. chilaw79
    06/19/2010 at 7:31 PM

    There are plenty of dysfunctional heterosexual families. Colbert King highlighted a few today in his column in the Washington Post.

    With very few restrictions (such as age, restrictions on intermarriage within biological families, and polygamy), heterosexuals have the right to marry. Gays and lesbians should have the same rights.

    • JusticeForRobert
      06/19/2010 at 8:01 PM

      Very well stated, chilaw79! Every dysfunction known to man already exists in heterosexual marriages and relationships. Why should a gay person or a relationship between two or more gay people, be held to a different standard?

      • Newbie
        06/19/2010 at 8:32 PM

        Married, 100% straight, Catholic no less, and could not agree more. Marriage is an institution, not founded on the dogma of a particular religion or the laws of a state, but rather the commitments made by the two people who enter into it.

        • David
          06/19/2010 at 11:27 PM

          Chilaw79,

          My point that I sought to make, albeit poorly, is that gay relationships ought to be able to be just as dysfunctional as straight relationships without it being the result of sexual orientation. Until then, because gays are seeking to gain our civil rights, as in the Prop 8 trial, we have to present ourselves as being white-picket fence gays in order to win what is already granted to straight people.

          We can’t be as dysfunctial until our rights are granted. Unfortunately, I fear that the Robert Wone trial will cause some people in power to believe that because they were gay they were dysfunctional and depraved. Why can’t they be judged on their own characters and not have it reflect on the entire gay community. Sadly, I think it will do just that.

          David, co-ed.

          • Eagle
            06/19/2010 at 11:57 PM

            Why? Because some people get their power by putting other people down. If it isn’t gays, it’s some other group they are putting down.
            They gather support for themselves that way.
            All kinds of people do it to all kinds of groups and individuals (Note the bullying that is going on in our high schools now- ex: an Irish teenager in Mass. commits suicide because of characterless teens fomenting demeaning behaviors against her.)
            The only thing that can neutralize this power to demean others is exactly what is going on here on this blog.
            Truth. Plenty of it.
            I know plenty of “conservative” people and the fact that the trouple are gay is not what they are concerned about. (They know about it from the Washingtonian and the Post mainly) They just want the killer to be identified so he/she/they will not kill again and there will be justice for Robert Wone. They put this crime in the same category of thinking as the murder of the
            lacrosse player at UVA. (Shocking)
            They wouldn’t even know about this Wone injustice except for this blog- an exception piece of public service which alerted the Washingtonian and the Post.
            Everyone I know, gives your group great credit. The gay part is really not that important.
            Trust me. I know many very “conservative” people.

            • David
              06/20/2010 at 12:09 AM

              Eagle,

              Thanks for the support. One of the reasons I was interested in starting this website was to show that gay people would not protect people of a heinous crime just because they were gay. I believe our community must stand on the side of justice for Robert Wone and his family.

              David, co-ed

              • weaver
                06/20/2010 at 12:46 AM

                You all have done an excellent job with this website. I never would have heard of Robert Wone all the way here in Ohio, but one day I saw a headline “The little blog that could….”. And now there is one more person praying for Kathy Wone and for justice for Robert, a man I never knew and now one I won’t ever forget. One more person who wants to see the people responsible for this horrific crime off the streets.

                • Michael
                  06/20/2010 at 4:13 AM

                  Well said. I couldn’t agree with you more. I knew nothing of this until two days ago and I lived three blocks away from Swann Street when this happened. This site is an invaluable historical record. It is outstanding.

              • JusticeForRobert
                06/20/2010 at 1:29 PM

                “One of the reasons I was interested in starting this website was to show that gay people would not protect people of a heinous crime just because they were gay”

                “Unfortunately, I fear that the Robert Wone trial will cause some people in power to believe that because they were gay they were dysfunctional and depraved. Why can’t they be judged on their own characters and not have it reflect on the entire gay community. Sadly, I think it will do just that.”

                I agree with your above quoted statements, David.

                The issue that I take issue with is the notion that “we have to present ourselves as being white-picket fence gays in order to win what is already granted to straight people.”

                I see that notion as a big part of the problem relating to people being able to keep it real, not only with themselves but just being honest in general. The mentality that we must appear one way all the while being another is the same as saying that we can not be ourselves. I have no doubt that there exists gay people who fit that white picket fence description and it is not for appearances but is their life in truth. On the other hand, I refuse to put on a show for anyone who has not only denied me my civil and constitutional rights but is an even bigger hypocrite than I ever dreamed of being. Just as many of our “married” law creating and defending politicians have proven to be. All the while we must debate if same sex marriage should be legal, those who could have and should have taken a stand on equality are off having any affair they wish.

                If this case reflects on anything, perhaps it is that leading a “double life” can be destructive and deadly in more ways than one.

                Thank You, David and to all who have sought justice for Robert.

          • chilaw79
            06/20/2010 at 12:52 PM

            I hope not.

  7. Rebecca
    06/19/2010 at 9:29 PM

    All humans yearn for intimate, loving relationships with other humans. Why should these intimate relationships have to be limited to certain definitions? It is hard enough to find someone who meets our ideal for a partner. Legislating the acceptable terms of love and intimacy is a lost cause. Why should it be troublesome if another’s intimate relationship is based on different criteria than our own?
    Imagine if all of us felt attraction in exactly the same way. How boring that would be!

  8. commonsensewillprevailihope
    06/19/2010 at 10:26 PM

    This whole posting was basically mumbo-jumbo that inappropriately injects a political discussion into what is a criminal trial regarding a heinous crime. Drop the political overflow. And I honestly had no idea what the editors meant by this incoherent sentence but I think the prosecutors were fully entitled to look at all aspects of this townhouse unit family to try and solve this case.

    It is sad and wrong that the prosecution must resort to looking at the inner workings of family from the outside because they believe they are lying to protect one another.

    • David
      06/19/2010 at 11:30 PM

      Commonsensewillprevailihope,

      My point is that if the Swann Street housemates were truthful from the start the MPD would not need to look into their lives to figure thie crime out. Unfortunately, because they had to look into their private lives, they were only able to judge it from the outside, not the inside, which is always a position fraught with peril when judging any relationship.

      David, co-ed

    • Michael
      06/20/2010 at 4:07 AM

      Murder will out. Period.

  9. 06/19/2010 at 11:03 PM

    Response to Bea. Selfless acts of service have no value if you trumpet them and try to draw attention to them or your [apparently] virtuous character.

    I would no more pass judgment on the editors and contributors of this site than I would of Joe, Dylan, Victor, Michael etc. Each of us has to own what we think and do and know whether or not virtue and service to mankind motivated us or something else.

    I will say it frightens me the way we have fallen on the accused like rabid dogs without mercy-especially since the system we entrust to handle situations like this is doing its job.

    It is true all of us are lessened by acts of violence such as Robert fell victim to. All of us are reduced by Joe, Victor, and Dylan misrepresenting themselves as something they were not. I mourn for the innocent children they fathered who might have this haunt them NOW THAT ALL OF IT IS IN MASS CIRCULATION FOR TIME IMMEMORIAL, and wonder how we are better in character creating this virtual lynch mob.

    • weaver
      06/19/2010 at 11:32 PM

      Huh?
      The editors and contributors are not on trial for obstructing justice in a murder case. The trio are, and the evidence by which to judge them for the crimes accused is coming out in court and we the public are watching and judging — as we should. No “lynch mob” here, just analysis of the evidence as it is presented and recorded in a court of law.

      It just so happens that the evidence is showing that the trio is lying about the murder of an innocent man. THEY DID THAT, not us. THEY left a legacy of shame for the innocent children they fathered when they made the CHOICE to cover up the MURDER of Robert Wone.

    • Bill Orange
      06/19/2010 at 11:39 PM

      “I will say it frightens me the way we have fallen on the accused like rabid dogs without mercy…”

      This falls into the same category as all of the “rush to judgment” posts and the “virtual lynch mob” posts. None of which are accurate. This case has been going on for almost four years. While many people who post here think that the defendants are guilty, they have typically arrived at that conclusion after extensive review of the available evidence. And the overwhelming majority of posters believe that the legal process can and should be allowed to work its way through to a conclusion. There is no rush to judgement. There is no virtual lynch mob. And we have certainly not “fallen on the accused like rabid dogs without mercy.”

    • AnnaZed
      06/19/2010 at 11:39 PM

      I grew up in the American South. I am the great-granddaughter of slave owners and (yes) even some unapologetic Klan members. I know the soul echoing shame of being descended from people who may well have had a part in lynchings and this is not a lynching. Your statement recalls Clarence Thomas’s 1991 declaration that scrutiny into his behaviors was nothing but a “high tech lynching.” Clarence Thomas was wrong to make that analogy and making that analogy now when what you are referring to is intensive public scrutiny is wrong as well.

      • Carolina
        06/20/2010 at 10:38 AM

        Thank you. As an AA, I resent the term “lynch mob” being used to describe turning up the heat on those who are implicated by evidence.

        Innocent men and boys were lynched, usually with little or no provocation aside from being a minority. No one picked the Trouple off the street for being gay.

    • Bea
      06/20/2010 at 2:12 AM

      Indigo, FYI, if you post a “reply” to the post you’re actually responding to then it’s far less confusing. I scrolled back up to see what my post was so as to make sense of this response.

      Earlier you wrote “Today’s post by David shows desperation [sic] to provide entertainment rather than a service orientation toward mankind” which I disagreed with. And still do. I asked you to advise us of YOUR service to mankind given your derision toward Editor David. Your response that you don’t trumpet your selfless acts because you choose not to draw attention to your virtuous character is missing the point. It’s a matter of casting stones. And to say NOW that you are not passing judgment on the editors seems disingenuous if you read the post which drew my comment.

      I am bemused at your assessment that ‘we’ have ‘fallen on the accused like rabid dogs’ and essentially that ‘we’ are a ‘virtual lynch mob’ since if you go back to the beginning of this blog, and the DataLounge thread which preceded it, many of us having been discussing this case with a critical eye to facts and law for nearly three years (not to mention on-the-fly discussions before that). As for a ‘virtual lynch mob,’ that’s simply nonsense. I’ve seen nothing here remotely resembling such a thing. You do know what a lynch mob is, right? Certainly there’s been plenty of discussion about the defendant’s ‘stories,’ other facts and evidence, and even theories about guilt and innocence and whether the sentencing guidelines are appropriate – hardly ‘lynch mob’ discussion content.

      Since Clarence Thomas first used ‘high tech lynch mob’ when faced with a non-actionable sexual harassment allegation, the terminology often signals to me that the speaker is trying to divert attention away from the genuine issue. Seems fitting here too.

    • Carolina
      06/20/2010 at 2:59 AM

      Honey, those kids are going to be far more screwed up if they read their own daddy’s alt.com profile than anything on here.

      • bigfatmike
        06/20/2010 at 4:57 AM

        You may be right. But credit where credit is due. I do not agree with other points that indigo2 has made. But indigo2 has stumbled on a significant point. The children now have a great burden to bear.

        I believe in both the case of Alger Hiss and the Rosenberg Atom Spy, adult children wrote of the trials of growing up related to parents who were publicly accused or publicly tried.

        When we consider the waves of destruction radiating from this crime, we should not forget the children. They already are, or will become victims of this terrible crime.

        And I will wager, they will not forget us.

        • Carolina
          06/20/2010 at 10:45 AM

          Agreed, however my point was that what Joe says about himself in his profile is impossible to ignore. A prosecutor or the media might focus, rightly or otherwise, on the worst of the defendants’ character, but these words are from his own mouth. It will be hard to balance that with the gay family poster boy he portrayed in the W&M interview.

        • Bill Orange
          06/20/2010 at 11:35 AM

          While I agree that we need to keep the children I mind, I also think that there’s a good chance that they’ll turn out fine. But all accounts, they were quite young when this happened, and Joe and Dylan did not seem to be terribly involved in their day-to-day activities. They were more like uncles than fathers to these boys. They have two loving mothers, and I hope that the moms had the good sense to wall them off from all of this as much as possible.

          • AnnaZed
            06/20/2010 at 12:28 PM

            With the note that Joe and Victor are the fathers and Dylan is in fact called “Uncle Dylan” in this set-up I would mostly agree with this from the point of view of the children and their mothers.

            I do think there will be a day (late-teens to mid-twenties) when these are going to be some pissed off young men, pissed at their fathers and pissed at the unfairness of life that made them the sons of these men (whom they probably also love). That’s the way it is for normal young men; imagine that typical gestational alienation reflected in the fun-house mirror that istroupleworld.

            Still, I think there is a very important element to the parenting of these boys that has bearing on this case, significant bearing. I have said before and I think that we may see it borne out as soon as Tuesday next: Victor is not willing, not able, to face his child’s mother (and through her his child himself and ~ significantly ~ Joe’s child, brother to his own child) and tell the truth about this. I think that he will go to jail and spend the rest of his life denying that he did anything wrong or that Joe did anything homicidal rather than have those boys “know” that these things occurred. I think even if convicted in this trial and even if subsequently convicted of murder he will still do that because facing that one person is everything and the world is just a chimera compared to the shame he would feel if the boys knew (really knew as in he himself confessed and was responsible for the fact becoming public) that Joe or Joe and Michael or Joe and Dylan or some combination there-of murdered Robert and that he himself acted to conceal that fact.

        • BadShoes
          06/20/2010 at 12:20 PM

          Not to reopen those particular cans of worms, but when a person is convicted of a crime, but steadfastly maintains his or her innocence, it puts tremendous stress on the family. This stress is particularly acute, I would think, if the evidence of guilt is overwhelming. “Who you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”

          Tony Hiss devoted decades to advocating for his father’s innocence. IMHO, letting him do this was yet another betrayal by his father.

          However, I do not believe that somehow society generally or we as individuals have some sort of duty to ignore treason, or murder, or obstruction of justice, because the crimes of the parents may cause their children unhappiness.

          I think that we all have a duty to seek the truth, wherever it leads.

        • Eagle
          06/20/2010 at 2:56 PM

          Please consider other possibilities for the children.
          There is a way out for these two young boys.
          To begin with, they have to be convinced that what their fathers do/did is not their fault. They must accept their fathers as they are.
          Secondly, they have to learn to be convinced of their own individual worth including developing their own values system.
          Their mothers have a job here. Like all parents, they must make their children strong people (each child in their own unique way). A special challenge here, but the boys are not doomed.
          Most of all, they must never think of themselves as victims. That is where the slippery slope begins.
          The community of people that they know must support them.
          Today, we are so much better informed about raising healthy children.
          I have hope.

    • Leo
      06/20/2010 at 8:02 AM

      I echo the others in rejecting the accusations of lynch mobbing here. Seeking information about and discussing an unsolved murder is not lynching, nor is it character assassination. The events and evidence discussed on this site are a matter of public record. You wish we held trials in secret “star chambers,” so no one’s “reputation” would be affected, but thankfully that’s not the way it works in the US. As to the shame the biological children will feel–I doubt their last names are Price or Zaborsky or that anyone will ever know who their fathers are, unless their mothers make a point of revealing it. Those kids never lived with their fathers and their relationship with them will be up to their mothers and them, when they are old enough to choose.

  10. Bill 2
    06/19/2010 at 11:30 PM

    It’s easy to see how the editors are pointing out the difference in the family unit on trial in DC and the gay family units trying to gain equality in the Prop 8 trial in California. It’s not as if the trial in DC won’t impact campaigns for gay equality.

    Of course, the main thrust of this case in Washington involves the death of Robert Wone — BUT — there is also going to be fallout from what can be viewed as a dysfunctional family unit involved in events surrounding his death.

    We have a defense attempting to claim that the trio is a loving family unit. Then we have Sarah Morgan telling how one of the trio wants to move up in his status, a neighbor telling of sex with two members while keeping it secret from another, and the same neighbor telling of another sex partner who also shared a romp with two of the three members of this family. Let’s not even get into the claims that showed up in the Washington Post yesterday.

    While all that can impact how this family may be protecting a killer, there is no doubt that the hate-mongers attempting to stop same-sex marriage around the nation will gladly utilize this whole scenario in their campaigns to ban same-sex marriage.

    The horror of the death of Robert Wone is certainly not forgotten just because we also have come to realize that the house on Swann Street seemed to have revolving doors on the bedrooms. Sadly, Robert Wone was unaware of the machinations of the household or he wouldn’t have stayed there. His view matched the readers of the USA Today Lifestyle feature about the happy same-sex partners and their children. Oops! They left out Dylan Ward. And let’s not forget the video Joe Price made to tell about his wonderful same-sex spouse and their children. Oops! He left out Dylan Ward. Again! What was passed off as family was a fraud and continues to be a fraud.

    • Carolina
      06/20/2010 at 10:46 AM

      Well said.

  11. Danali
    06/19/2010 at 11:32 PM

    I think it is a fortunate and rather amazing thing for the gay community that the Robert Wone trial has remained off the national radar.

    It would seem like the perfect gift to the James Dobson contingent – a story in which an iconic gay couple (Joe and Victor) have willingly offered themselves up to the public at large as standard bearers for a stable, committed gay family in which children could be safe.

    I think that it’s pretty obvious at this point that Joe Price in particular is every inch the perfect weapon for conservative activists to invoke when speaking out against gay marriage. Putting aside all of the nightmarish and cruel details of Robert Wone’s murder (and suspected sexual abuse)- Price is connected to many things that would I think rightly disturb the average American who might have mixed feelings about the gay marriage issue.

    I recognize that there is no shortage of hypocritical social conservatives. The George Rekers rentboy scandal is just the latest public example of it. The media rightly had a heyday with that story- as it demonstrated profound hypocrisy and hubris.

    It is for that reason that I’m so surprised that the conservative media hasn’t pounced on the Wone trial and Joe Price in particular. He seems like a thermonuclear weapon left as yet undetonated (and undiscovered?) in a culture war in which neither side is given to diplomacy or cautiousness.

    If and when Joe Price serves his “useful” purpose as an incredibly powerful pr weapon for the opponents of gay marriage / equality in the Culture War, it will also have to be noted and acknowledged that it was members of the gay community- more than any other social group and more than the watchdog media- that sought justice for the deceased. And sought to raise public awareness as well of just how unfit Mr. Price has proven himself to be as a standard bearer for the community.

    Does anyone else share my surprise about this?

    Has gay media (The Advocate or anyone else) given this story much attention?

    Does anyone think this story will ultimately explode into the public conciousness (via Nancy Grace or some other figure)? Or will it ultimately remain under the radar? If so, why?

    • weaver
      06/19/2010 at 11:48 PM

      I think it will likely remain under the radar like 99% of other murder cases. I don’t think this case being under the national media radar has anything to do with the trio being gay.

    • Liam
      06/20/2010 at 12:38 AM

      “Does anyone think this story will ultimately explode into the public conciousness (via Nancy Grace or some other figure)?”

      No, it won’t explode onto the national media because the national media likes cases that don’t create excessive divisiveness.

      Look up the Wichita massacre on Google. Two black scumbags randomly raped and murdered 4 young whites in what has to be one of the most brutal, heartless, killings I’ve ever read about.

      No national media coverage because it would be too divisive….black against white.

      • Bill Orange
        06/20/2010 at 1:30 AM

        I don’t agree. The perpetrators of the Wichita massacre were captured the next day, and there was really no mystery about whether or not they were guilty. For a murder to attract national attention in the US, you need at least two of three things: (1) a true mystery about what happened, (2) a celebrity, and/or (3) an attractive white woman, preferably a blond. #3 can, in rare circumstances, be replaced by a white child, particularly if it’s a little girl who’s been dressed up to look like an attractive blond white woman. Unusual sexual practices are not on the list, nor are the races of any of the men involved. Special exceptions are occasionally made if the body count is particularly high, but that’s fairly rare. The Wichita massacre had only #3. In this case, we have only #1. Hence, no national coverage.

        • Bob
          06/20/2010 at 11:24 AM

          Chandra Levy was a brunette.

          • Bill Orange
            06/20/2010 at 11:36 AM

            You had (1) and (2) in that case, though.

    • Bill Orange
      06/20/2010 at 1:12 AM

      “Does anyone else share my surprise about this?”

      Yes and no. I think that it would have been a huge story if Kathy Wone or Robert’s parents had come out and said something to the effect that three gay freaks killed Robert. That didn’t happen. Nor did the gay community rally around the defendants, largely because there wasn’t much to rally around prior to the charges being filed, and when the charges were finally filed against Ward, it was clear that this was not a trio that the gay community wanted to rally around. And finally, this website, which was formed and populated in part by a number of gay men and lesbians, has done an awful lot to keep this thing from blowing up, largely by making clear that this case is not a “gay versus straight” issue.

      • Bea
        06/20/2010 at 1:27 AM

        Agree with all. I think that outside the people who knew and loved Robert Wone – and make no mistake that I think these are on par in any stretch of the imagination – the gay community is as outraged as any group of people. I loathe that these so-called “poster boys” are dragging “our” name through the mud. Even if acquitted, the facts of this case and the many many “strange” details of this so-called family do not put us in a good light. I don’t care if what consenting adults do in private, but I hate hypocrites.

        Watching Joe Price’s interview with the W&M alumni project is hypocrisy in action. If Joe was so proud of his “family,” why in October 2008 did he present the image of dull domesticity of a loving husband and two children he hoped would attend his alma mater? Where’s the pride about his other loving husband? Or pride in his Culuket persona? He hardly spoke of W&M at all – was practically a “Joe Price, Family Man” infomercial. I’ve said it many times, but a month before the indictments dropped, after months of Grand Jury testimony and legal wranglings, WHY on Earth he agreed to this interview is not easily understood.

    • Carolina
      06/20/2010 at 3:03 AM

      I think MSM is avoiding it because they can’t really talk about e-stim, tube masks and dildos in primetime.

      • Bill Orange
        06/20/2010 at 11:37 AM

        They managed to deal with blowjobs and semen-streaked dresses. I think they could manage this. There just isn’t enough motivation for them to do so.

        • Carolina
          06/20/2010 at 2:19 PM

          I don’t know, straight sex even involving a cigar always seems more palatable to the media than anything involving a gay man. Add in the degree of kink and I don’t think it’s going to pass Katie Couric’s lips.

    • Nelly
      06/20/2010 at 2:40 PM

      Well, the local Fox news station in DC has covered this case more than other news outlets. I think they were the ones who interviewed our blog editors for a story. The Advocate had a very brief article, about a third of a page, on the Wone murder soon after it happened. For the sake of Robert’s memory, I hope the story will ‘ultimately explode into the public consciousness,’ but as Bill Orange has noted, I doubt it, because there’s no pretty white girl involved.

  12. Three Strikes
    06/20/2010 at 1:18 AM

    Many thanks to the editors for today’s “Tale of Two Trials”. Obviously, this sparked some discussion, proving once again, that this is a blog that recognizes issues integral to this murder case.
    The gay issue is very real in this particular case.

    The defendants have placed themselves in the position to expose much of their lives to public scrutiny.

    This blog has become a work in progress. Who knows where it will go from here?

    We know it began for one issue, to find a conclusion in the mystery of Robert Wone’s tragic demise.

    The gay issue is important to so many of us who are. A crime of this magnitude deserves for all issues and questions to be addressed, and I am grateful to the editors for taking the time and energy to put-out and over a weekend, too.

    Perhaps in part, the editors wish to maintain a momentum, just now, to expound a little around the edges, but edges that matter, while we all wait to know the fate of three individuals who would be as one.

    I think, too, the editors began this blog as gay men themselves recognizing the need to seek justice for Mr. Wone and family primarily, and to offer in the spirit that many gays do, a generosity and passion for fairness. Providing the vehicle for careful scrutiny, lively exchange, fact-finding in excruciating detail by the editors and so many of the bloggers,
    has resulted in an unprecidented education for many of us.
    People ask the same questions others did months or years before, but so what? Some are just getting started in this, while many are devoted veterans.

    And then again, any one of us might revisit the same question as before. Why? Because this feels like the theater of the absurd..and we are checking ourselves…did we miss something? Can this really be? This sounds so totally implausible…it is…and the demand for answers just will not dissipate…so YES! The editors are doing something very right. The process is as important as the results are.

    Most of us will agree, that we wish for justice and will not “sleep”, even on the weekends, until we know all we can, all there is to know, if that is possible.

    Editors, do be sure you rest up, but thanks for this parallel today, and thanks for all you do. I think we really don’t know how important this blog is right now. In time we will know more.

    • Bea
      06/20/2010 at 1:29 AM

      Well said.

  13. Rich
    06/20/2010 at 1:53 AM

    Dear Editors:

    Here’s a new angle:

    Why not conduct a straw poll and query this readership for its position regardig the case.

    How many folks believe the guys are:

  14. Gama
    06/20/2010 at 1:55 AM

    OT to this particular post of the editors but a few days ago I ran into something I wanted to share.

    But I held back. I have lived in lower Manhattan for years and I am still not only appalled but horrified when when anyone thinks it’s OK to use 9/11 for humor or as part of a joke. So my apologies to anyone who thinks I am making light of the terrible tragedy that befell Mr. Wone and those who loved him and I understand if you want to accuse me of dreadful taste or worse. I’m probably guilty as charged and I apologize now.

    Still I finally decided I wanted to share this because it is priceless. I think I have found Joe’s intruder:

    http://www.popjolly.com/burglar-did-washing-up-at-properties-he-raided-729

    • Carolina
      06/20/2010 at 3:06 AM

      Thank you. I would leave my door unlocked for him, especially on laundry day.

    • Bill Orange
      06/20/2010 at 10:13 AM

      This reminds me of the case a few years ago where someone went into a Starbucks, locked the staff in a closet, and emptied the cash register. They apparently weren’t satisfied with their haul, so they started selling coffee to squeeze a little more money out of the crime.

      As for 9/11 and humor, I initially thought it was totally off-limits and I would never laugh again, but then “The Onion” published its “Holy Fucking Shit” issue, and I thankfully changed my mind.

      • weaver
        06/20/2010 at 10:30 AM

        I would love to look up the Starbucks case if you can point me in the right direction.

        I have the two Smoking Gun books “The Dog Called 911” and got quite a few laughs from both books.

  15. Rich
    06/20/2010 at 2:17 AM

    Sorry About The Typo:

    How many folks believe the guys are:

    a.) Innocent
    b.) Guilty

    Breakdown the possibilities of an out come;

    a.) Joe Does Time
    b.) Dylan Does Time
    c.) Victor Does Time

    All three do time? and , breAK DOW THE CHARGES. fOR wHAT:

    A.) TAMPERING
    b>) OBSTRUCTION
    C.) Conspiracy

    Seems like Load of Folks Have Loads of Views and We Shoud Hear Them Before the Final Outcome.

    Frankly, I believe Victor and /0r Ward make a grand announcemeeent shortly before sentancing

    • weaver
      06/20/2010 at 10:26 AM

      I think they are all guilty of all the charges, and at least one is guilty of murder, but honestly I think they likely all took part in the planning of this crime, and then the murder. NOBODY stands by while a person is being forcibly restrained, drugged, sexually abused and KILLED unless they think it is “okay” and then they are “okay” to cover up such a horrific act upon another person.

      I think they will all be found guilty, (minus the tampering charge for D&V), but I also agree with you that once prison time is on the horizon they will go into survival mode and start turning on each other– happens all the time when the guilty “pack” faces serious prison time.

    • Bill Orange
      06/20/2010 at 11:21 AM

      Well, I’ll take (b) for the first one. I think there’s about an 80-90% chance that they’re all going to be found guilty of all the crimes that are still on the table, but obviously that means that I think there’s about a 10-20% chance that they’re all going to walk. I think a split-verdict is fairly unlikely at this point, given that the judge has already lopped off the weakest charges.

      As for the sentencing, I would say that IF this judge hands down any guilty verdicts, the sentences are going to be quite severe. This is a no-nonsense judge, and these are very serious charges. Guilty verdicts essentially mean that the defendants enabled a murderer to escape justice. I would be stunned by any sentence of less than 5 years. I think that 10-15 years each is about what she’ll hand down.

      I would put the chances of Victor and/or Dylan flipping in the 30-40% range. Of the three defendants, I think that the evidence against Dylan FOR THE CURRENT CHARGES is the weakest. (I think that he was there for the murder, though, whereas I think Victor simply walked in on the aftermath.) I would guess that his defense team had told him that he had the best chance of walking away last week, and that didn’t happen. I think Dylan is more likely to initiate a plea bargain that Victor is, because I think Dylan has less of an emotional attachment to Joe. (Unlike Victor, Dylan tried to walk away from this relationship a few years ago.) I also think Dylan is a lot more street-smart than Victor is, and he’s done more time already than Victor, so he has a clearer picture of what the stakes are.

      The fact that Victor and Dylan were chatting outside the courtroom last week raises my eyebrows. It’s possible that they both just had to pee at the same time, so I don’t want to read much into it. But I think that Dylan is going to try to cleave Victor away from Joe, and he knows that now (after Victor just heard all of those e-mails) is the best time to do it. And this is where it gets interesting.

      I think that Victor walked in on a clean-up, and I think the prosecution is going to believe him if that’s what he says, so I think he can get a reasonably good deal. If he says that Michael Price and/or Louis Hinton were there, that will help him even more, since they can pressure Hinton with obstruction charges (especially if he wasn’t there and only provided an alibi for Michael). Victor’s testimony would help the prosecution convict both Joe and Dylan and will likely give them more leverage in the sentencing. Cutting a deal with him is a no-brainer for the prosecution.

      Dylan, on the other hand, is in a different situation. There’s a good chance that he was the actual killer, and the prosecution surely suspects this. (They probably have a good idea one way or another, since they’ve got the polygraph results.) He has a very strong motivation to try to pin this on Joe or Michael, which lowers his value as a witness. He’s going to want a deal that involves no jail time, and I just can’t see the prosecution going for this. I think the prosecution will offer 2-4 years in a cushy prison IF they’re fairly sure he wasn’t the killer. On the other hand, if they’re fairly sure that he IS the killer, they probably won’t cut a deal with him, because it would look pretty bad for the prosecution if they made a deal with Dylan, and Joe was able to provide some sort of proof that Dylan was the killer.

      I think if I were the prosecution, I would cut deals with Victor (no jail time) and Dylan (2-4 years), and then I would only put Victor on the stand to testify against Joe. That would secure convictions against all three, and it would turn them all against each other, which is ultimately what it’s going to take to shake loose the truth.

  16. YournormalJoe
    06/20/2010 at 2:54 AM

    Can I just say something…?

    I’m secretly attracted to Bea.

    Now, back to the topic at hand.

    • WhatACase
      06/20/2010 at 6:29 AM

      Joe — Get in line! Bea’s comments, insights and analysis are a big part of the value here.

      • Bea
        06/20/2010 at 2:02 PM

        (Blushing) Ah, you guys. . .

  17. tassojunior
    06/20/2010 at 10:38 AM

    WaPo has an excellent (for WaPo) discussion of Prop 8 ramifications:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/18/AR2010061805140.html

    In Virginia the constitutional amendment passed to oppose gay marriage went on to ban domestic partnership also. This hurt more people than marriage would have helped.

Comments are closed.