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PROP 8 TRIAL, Day 11 summary: religious conservatives again targeted

SAN FRANCISCO (BP)–Religious conservatives once again were the target of criticism Tuesday as the California Prop 8 federal trial — which could result in the legalization of “gay marriage” nationwide — concluded its 11th day.

The trial before U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco will determine whether California was within its rights in 2008 to pass Prop 8 and prohibit “gay marriage.” The case could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court and decide the constitutionality of laws and constitutional amendments banning “gay marriage” not only in California but also in every other state.

Religion was the topic of discussion when attorneys for Prop 8 opponents cross-examined Professor Kenneth Miller, a political science professor at Claremont (Calif.) McKenna College.

“In their desperate attempt to make something of their case stick, the anti-Prop 8 lawyer spent extraordinary time — four hours, in fact — trying to get the witness to concede that the margin of victory for Prop 8 in the November 2008 election was driven solely by ‘religious’ voters,” Andy Pugno, general counsel of ProtectMarriage.com, the group that sponsored Prop 8, wrote in his blog. “But Dr. Miller’s testimony provided an impenetrable roadblock, establishing that — while religious views were certainly one of many factors that informed some voters’ support for Prop 8 — no exit poll or voter study has shown that religion alone determined the result of the election.”

Pugno added, “But let’s assume for a moment that it could be shown that religious views formed the basis for even most of the voters who supported Prop 8. So what? Are we to understand that the votes of California’s faithful shouldn’t be counted?

Each day during the trial Baptist Press will post a blog entry from someone in the courtroom. Following is commentary on day 11 of the trial from Austin R. Nimocks, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, which supports Prop 8:

“Day 11, Tuesday, can be aptly described as an exercise in the pot calling the kettle black (or what’s good for the goose is somehow not good for the gander). The plaintiffs’ case, in some part, has hinged upon the premise that reasonable people reflect upon their viewpoints and sometimes change their opinions.

“This is why San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders was called to testify [Jan. 19]. Mayor Sanders used to oppose same-sex ‘marriage,’ but after his daughter elected to enter into a same-sex relationship, he has since transformed his views. The plaintiffs called Mayor Sanders to testify and show how, in their minds, all Californians who oppose same-sex ‘marriage’ should ‘evolve.’ For Mayor Sanders, the plaintiffs are tolerant because, in their minds, he reached the ‘correct’ conclusion. Yet, for those whose conclusions are, in their opinion, ‘incorrect’ the plaintiffs have no tolerance.

“We saw this theme [Tuesday] in the cross-examination of Professor Kenneth Miller, a Harvard lawyer and political science professor at Claremont McKenna College. Dr. Miller was called as a witness by the ProtectMarriage.com legal team, which demonstrated, through his testimony, that the ‘No on 8’ campaign and its political allies have much political power, both in California and nationally. Moreover, Dr. Miller testified in favor of the initiative process in California and the ability of the California citizens to enact laws that they choose to enact.

“However, Dr. Miller did not always hold the opinions that he currently holds. Early in his career as a political scientist, Dr. Miller wrote articles that critiqued the initiative process and questioned its place in American democracy. However, after years of research studying hundreds of initiatives across the country, Dr. Miller came to realize that the initiative process was an effective and necessary tool in the larger democratic process. His research and the evidence of the initiative process nationwide led him to a different conclusion, and he felt so strongly about that conclusion that he wrote a book about it. Dr. Miller’s book ‘Direct Democracy and the Courts’ is a known and authoritative source on the initiative and referendum process in America.

“Yet, in the minds of the plaintiffs, Dr. Miller’s transformed opinion on initiatives apparently isn’t worthy of respect or their tolerance. In large part, the cross-examination of Dr. Miller amounted to an indictment of his current views on initiatives and an attempt to get him to transform his opinions (on the witness stand) to what he used to believe. Thus, for the plaintiffs, it’s perfectly permissible for Mayor Sanders’ beliefs about same-sex ‘marriage’ to evolve, but when it comes to Dr. Miller’s professional studies and writings about the initiative process, any change that he makes which doesn’t fit the goals of those who want to redefine marriage is somehow improper.

“Thus, the plaintiffs showed Tuesday what we already know — that tolerance for them isn’t really a two-way street. Instead, they seemed to be applying their immutability argument to the opinions of the witness just as they have insisted on the ‘immutability’ of sexual attraction. The argument has failed on both fronts. Just as we are supposed to pretend not to notice that one of the [lesbian] plaintiffs was married for 12 years and had children with her husband, the plaintiffs’ attorneys pretended not to notice that Dr. Miller’s ‘initiative orientation’ has changed … and very publicly so.

“In the end, Dr. Miller held his own quite well, and the plaintiffs were unable to undercut Dr. Miller’s powerful testimony that the advocates for marriage redefinition in the United States do not lack political power, but rather have many powerful political allies. And because Dr. Miller wouldn’t abandon his current convictions about the initiative process in America, the plaintiffs eventually ended their questioning of him.

“The next witness called by the ProtectMarriage.com legal team was David Blankenhorn, a Harvard graduate and nationally renowned author and expert on the question of marriage. Mr. Blankenhorn is regularly invited by leading same-sex ‘marriage’ advocates to attend symposiums and debates on the topic, and Mr. Blankenhorn’s two books, ‘The Future of Marriage’ and ‘Fatherless America,’ are well-known and authoritative sources in the marriage arena. In fact, Mr. Blankenhorn was cited by both the California Supreme Court and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court when deciding the questions in their states regarding same-sex ‘marriage.’

“Mr. Blankenhorn made some very powerful points during his examination and firmly disavowed the idea that marriage is merely about the private desires of adults. Throughout its history, marriage has been a child-centered institution, focusing on what’s best for children. Mr. Blankenhorn also affirmed the extremely large body of literature which establishes a broad consensus amongst scholars that the optimal environment for children is where they are raised by their natural mother and father. By defining marriage as one man and one woman, we encourage this optimal environment. Same-sex ‘marriage,’ on the other hand, intentionally deprives children of either a mother or a father, thereby denying them the opportunity for that optimal environment.

“Mr. Blankenhorn also noted the important and disturbing trend about marriage in our country in the last three to five decades — that we, as a society, have been de-institutionalizing marriage ourselves through no-fault divorce, adultery, and out-of-wedlock childbearing. Ushering in same-sex ‘marriage,’ according to Mr. Blankenhorn, would further de-institutionalize and devalue marriage to an unrecognizable point and can usher in what he called “new family forums” like polygamy, polyandry, and polyamory. Clearly, maintaining marriage as the union of one man and one woman is what is best not only for our children, but for society as a whole.”
Compiled by Michael Foust, an assistant editor of Baptist Press. For more information about the trial visit ProtectMarriage.com or www.adfmedia.org/News/PRDetail/3618. Follow it on Twitter at Twitter.com/ProtectMarriage and Twitter.com/ADFMedia. To read about the impact of “gay marriage” on the culture, visit http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=30209.

    About the Author

  • Michael Foust