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PROP 8 TRIAL, Day 7 summary: prof says religion ‘chief obstacle’ to gay progress

SAN FRANCISCO (BP)–A Stanford University professor Wednesday criticized the traditional beliefs on marriage by Southern Baptists and Catholics, saying during the California Prop 8 federal trial that “religion is the chief obstacle” to political progress by homosexuals.

The trial before U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco could last several weeks and will determine whether California was within its rights to prohibit “gay marriage” in 2008 by adopting Prop 8. The case likely will 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.

Each day during the trial Baptist Press will post a blog entry from someone in the courtroom. Following is commentary on day seven of the trial from Andy Pugno, general counsel of ProtectMarriage.com, the group that sponsored Prop 8:

“[On Wednesday], the legal challenge to Prop 8 took an ugly turn as religion itself was put on trial. Plaintiffs’ witness Gary Segura, a Stanford University political science professor with expertise in the area of the political power of minorities including homosexuals, summed it up when he said ‘religion is the chief obstacle’ for gays’ and lesbians’ political progress.

“In trying to make the case that homosexuals are a vulnerable minority with no ability to achieve and secure success in the political system for their interests, Professor Segura blamed hostility, political opposition and even violence towards gays and lesbians on the teachings of major religious denominations. He further testified that there is no more powerful organization in the United States — save the government — than the church. Particular scrutiny was given to the official religious doctrines of the Catholic Church and Southern Baptists about marriage, family and sexual relationships. Therefore, according to his logic, gays and lesbians must be given special legal protection by the U.S. Constitution against religion itself.

“If it weren’t such a serious and troubling matter, their line of attack against people of faith would be laughable. To suggest that the people of California cannot consider their own political, moral and religious views when casting their vote on Prop 8 is preposterous. Every election, many issues are presented to voters that involve moral issues, including stem-cell research, the treatment of animals, assisted suicide, the death penalty, health care reform and so on.

“In any event, religion has taken the stage, front and center, in the battle over the constitutionality of Prop 8, and is being portrayed as an illegitimate basis for supporting traditional marriage. Religious bigotry surely found expression in [Wednesday’s] presentation by the plaintiffs…. [Segura] said it is almost impossible for gays to overcome the religious views of churches.

“Upon another outstanding cross examination by Prop 8 defense attorney David Thompson, it became clear to any reasonable person that gays and lesbians have had substantial amounts of political capital in their grasp for at least the last decade, the two initiatives (Prop 8 and Prop 22) on same-sex marriage notwithstanding.

“Much of [Wednesday] felt as if the plaintiffs had dragged us down the proverbial rabbit hole into an alternate world of fantasy where up is down. In the real world, it is impossible to square the claim that homosexuals do not enjoy significant political power in California when the newly elected Assembly Speaker is an openly gay man and numerous state and local elected officials are openly homosexual. California has extensive domestic partnership protections which provide all the legal provisions of marriage, and the Governor, Attorney General, both our United States Senators and Superintendent of Public Instruction all aggressively opposed Prop 8. In 2008, our opponents raised $43 million to attempt to defeat Prop 8 and outspent us by over $3 million. Equality California (the state’s most influential homosexual rights lobby) secured the passage of 11 separate pieces of legislation benefitting homosexuals. And homosexual political advocates have the support of Hollywood, labor unions, the technology sector, leaders of corporate California, and nearly every single newspaper editorial board in the state.

“Add to that laundry list the fact that the United States Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is a Democrat from the most gay friendly region of California and that there is not a single state with more anti-discrimination laws specific to homosexuals on its books. I’m left shaking my head how a political science professor from a prestigious university reaches the conclusion that homosexuals are politically powerless in the United States, let alone California.

“Apparently Professor Segura’s conclusion that gays are politically powerless hasn’t reached the gay community itself. You’d think that a group that sees itself as powerless wouldn’t be eager to push a ballot initiative on same-sex marriage. Yet that is exactly what groups like Equality California, the Courage Campaign and others are focused on doing — if not for 2010 then for 2012.

“Only down Professor Segura’s rabbit hole does the fantasy of gays lacking political power exist, leading to the conclusion that gays and lesbians are a defenseless minority entitled to extraordinary legal protection. In the real world, gays and lesbians are one of the most powerful, effective special interest groups who wield power far in excess of their numbers. The fact that they have amassed untold millions of dollars to fund a legal team that includes dozens of lawyers and some of the nation’s top litigators to come into federal court claiming to be powerless is rich with irony.”
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/ADFMedia and Twitter.com/ProtectMarriage. To read about the impact of “gay marriage” on the culture, visit http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=30209.

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