Proponents of same-sex marriage argued in federal court Thursday that a California ban on gay marriage was motivated by hostility toward gays and lesbians, rendering the law unconstitutional.
Attorneys representing couples who want to wed are preparing to rest their case Friday in the federal court challenge to California's Proposition 8, turning over the courtroom to supporters of the gay-marriage ban.
The trial—the first to bring a state gay-marriage ban into federal court—will decide whether Proposition 8, a 2008 voter initiative that limits marriage to a man and a woman, violated the U.S. Constitution because it codifies discrimination ...Building their argument that Proposition 8 was motivated by discrimination, the plaintiffs on Thursday called to the stand a hostile witness who had asked to be dismissed as a defendant in the case because he feared for his safety.
During the campaign for Proposition 8, Hak-Shing William Tam had likened gay marriage to legalizing prostitution and sex with children. On the stand, Mr. Tam said he wasn't hostile to gays, but believed they are more likely to molest children.
Over the past two weeks, lawyers representing same-sex California couples who want to marry have argued that the law not only harms gays and lesbians, but was driven by a hatred of them.
The defense has labeled much of the plaintiffs' testimony so far as irrelevant. "Nearly all of the testimony has been strictly an emotional appeal to the court with testimony that, though moving, doesn't relate to the legal issues," said Andrew Pugno, the general counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, which is defending the ban in the trial ...
Proponents of same-sex marriage have called to the stand individuals who have given sometimes tearful testimony on the discrimination faced by gays and lesbians.
On Tuesday, the court heard from the mayor of San Diego about why he came to support same-sex marriage for his lesbian daughter, and on Wednesday from a Colorado gay man whose parents put him through "reversal therapy" in his youth.
"We are putting discrimination against gays and lesbians on trial. We are showing what the human costs of that discrimination are," said David Boies, one of the lawyers representing the pro-gay-marriage side. "Every citizen has the right to decide for themselves what is moral, but no group of citizens has the right to discriminate against a minority."
Through expert testimony, the plaintiffs have sought to prove that allowing same-sex marriage doesn't harm society, but banning it does harm to gays and lesbians.
The plaintiffs hope that, plus the personal testimonies, could help make their case that the ban is unconstitutional, in part, because the law singles out a particular group of people.
"They are arguing that there is nothing more than outdated social mores and outright discrimination behind the opposition to same-sex marriage," said David Masci, a senior research fellow at the nonpartisan Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life. "They want to make sure they insulate themselves from what is coming from the defense—the argument that there are very legitimate reasons why some people in our society are opposed to this."
In a two-day cross-examination of witness Gary Segura, a Stanford University political scientist, the defense challenged the idea that gays and lesbians are politically powerless group, and thus deserve special consideration by the court.
Defense counsel David Thompson suggested that gays and lesbians have abundant political influence and support, and don't require special protection against laws affecting them.