SAN FRANCISCO (BP)–Southern Baptist Convention and Catholic belief statements on homosexuality and “gay marriage” were read Wednesday during the California Prop 8 trial as examples of prejudice and bias against homosexuals — a courtroom moment conservative attorneys say underscores that religious liberty is at stake.
The exchange on day three of the federal trial occurred when San Francisco attorney Therese Stewart asked Yale University Professor George Chauncey — both of whom support “gay marriage” — to read the respective religious denomination documents. She then asked him if they derived from stereotypical and prejudice views of homosexuals, and he replied “yes.” At Stewart’s prodding, Chauncey then said views on racial segregation also were built upon deeply held religious views.
Alliance Defense Fund attorney Jordan Lorence, who was in the courtroom, called the exchange “chilling.”
“This is further proof that this case, and the very definition of marriage, is about much more than the personal relationships and the inner feelings of people who choose same-sex relationships,” he wrote on a blog. “It is about imposing a different and intolerant ‘morality’ on America and eradicating opposing ideas.”
Lorence further wrote, “It’s not hard to figure out what is so frightening about an attempt in federal court to attack and delegitimize the views of the two largest Christian denominations in America.”
Maggie Gallagher, an opponent of “gay marriage” and the president of the National Organization for Marriage, asked in a posting at NationalReview.com, “Could you try any harder to confirm religious people’s fears about where gay marriage is heading?”
Stewart had Chauncey read portions of two resolutions passed by Southern Baptist messengers concerning “gay marriage,” apparently from 2003 and the other from 2008. The portions he read stated in part that “legalizing same-sex ‘marriage’ would convey a societal approval of a homosexual lifestyle, which the Bible calls sinful and dangerous both to the individuals involved and to society at large” and that “we call on Southern Baptists not only to stand against same-sex unions, but to demonstrate our love for those practicing homosexuality by sharing with them the forgiving and transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
The 2003 Vatican document read by Chauncey read in part, “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law.”
The trial before U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco could last several weeks and will determine whether California was within its constitutional rights to prohibit “gay marriage” in 2008 by adopting Proposition 8. The highly publicized case likely will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court and determine the constitutionality of laws and constitutional amendments banning “gay marriage” not only in California but also in every other state.
Each day during the trial Baptist Press will post a blog entry from someone in the courtroom. Following is the remainder of Lorence’s commentary:
“Wednesday began with the cross-examination of Yale history professor George Chauncey. In his direct testimony, he painted a dark history for people engaged in homosexual behavior in America. However, Professor Chauncey reluctantly admitted that he has also written that the environment for this group has improved markedly in America. He also admitted that people voted for Proposition 8 for a range of reasons — and that not all of them had invidious intent to ‘discriminate.’
“Professor Chauncey also had a frustrating habit of falsely linking the motivations of those who supported Proposition 8 to those who supported racial segregation a half century ago. He reluctantly agreed that there is nothing wrong with voters considering their individual moral values to decide how to vote on an issue, but then added that people supported racial segregation because of their moral beliefs. People also use their personal moral values to support environmental legislation or health care legislation. Does that mean those voters are just like those who supported racial segregation?
“The fact is two-thirds of black Americans, many of whom personally suffered under segregation, affirm the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. If anyone would notice a civil rights issue when he saw one, it is a black voter. The truth is skin color is not a moral category, but demanding unquestioned public affirmation of certain sexual behaviors on society is an inescapably moral issue. The comparison is apples and sea urchins — a P.R. ploy — but unfortunately, it has fooled many.”
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press. For more information about the trial visit ProtectMarriage.com or www.adfmedia.org/News/PRDetail/3618. To read about the impact of “gay marriage” on the culture, visit http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=30209.