Prop 8 Defenders Call Up First Witness

Defenders of California's constitutional amendment on marriage presented their first witness Monday after the plaintiffs in the critical trial closed their case following two weeks of hearings.

To start things off, lawyers defending Proposition 8 called to the stand Claremont McKenna College professor Dr. Kenneth Miller, who testified as an expert on American politics and California politics.

Miller – who has degrees from Pomona College, Harvard Law School, and UC Berkeley – informed the court that, contrary to the testimony of an earlier witness, gays and lesbians are a politically powerful force, with friends in high office, unions, corporations, the media, and even churches and faith-based organizations.

"Gays and lesbians are able to achieve positive outcomes in the political process" and have "the ability to attract the attention of lawmakers," said Miller.

Last week, the plaintiffs had called up Stanford University professor Gary Segura, who said gays and lesbians have little power and few reliable allies.

Miller showed, however, that the LGBT community fits the mold of a politically powerful group, having a slew of allies in the largely blue state of California. He pointed to the Prop 8 campaign as evidence of this observation, noting that the "No on Prop 8" campaign drew more than $43 million in funding - $3 million more than the "Yes of 8" campaign.

"It is true that in 2000 and 2008 the LGBT community, gays and lesbians, lost ballot measure contests" over same-sex marriage, Miller said. "However, California voters have not used the initiative process nor the popular referendum to repeal or limit the Legislature's other broad expansions of LGBT rights."

On cross examination, Miller was questioned on his knowledge of pro-gay political gains, asked whether it came from his own research or had been told to him by defense lawyers.

At one point, the trial was halted for almost 20 minutes while Miller combed his written report to check off which evidence he had found on his own and which he had received from the lawyers.

"Some of them were provided for me by counsel, but most of them I found myself," Miller concluded.

The trial resumes Tuesday with the defense's second witness – David Blankenhorn, founder and president of the Institute for American Values, a private group that advocates on behalf of responsible fatherhood and traditional marriage.

The case, which is being watched closely by people on both sides of the marriage debate, could lead to a precedent for whether gay marriage becomes legal nationwide and, as traditional marriage advocates say, whether the nation's democratic principles will be upheld.

Regardless of how the trial in San Francisco concludes, an appeal will likely be filed to the Supreme Court, which could end up determining whether gay Americans have a right to marry.

The case is Perry v. Schwarzenegger.

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