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PROP 8 TRIAL summary, Day 8: Chinese religious leader criticized for views

SAN FRANCISCO (BP)–Attorneys seeking to overturn California Prop 8 continued Thursday what critics called a chilling attack on religious freedom, as Prop 8 opponents called to the witness stand and questioned Hak-Shing William Tam, a leader in the Chinese Christian community who backed Prop 8.

The federal 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 the constitutional marriage amendment. 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.

Tam helped lead the effort to get support in the Chinese community for Prop 8. Lawyers for Prop 8 opponents tried to show that Tam was motivated by bias againtst homosexuals.

“For the first time (we believe) ever in a court of law, a proponent of a voter initiative was put on the stand to be interrogated under oath about his own political, moral and religious views,” Andy Pugno, general counsel of ProtectMarriage.com, the group that sponsored Prop 8, wrote in his blog. “Not only was the Prop 8 supporter forced to reveal his political and religious views under penalty of perjury, but he was further forced to defend and substantiate his views so the court can decide whether his views are ‘improper.’

“Clearly the plaintiffs will go to any lengths — even if it means sacrificing the precious protections of the First Amendment — to achieve their goal of invalidating the vote of the people.”

Each day during the trial Baptist Press will post a blog entry from someone in the courtroom. Following is commentary on day eight of the trial from Austin R. Nimocks, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, who writes about the controversy about Tim but also about other portions of Thursday’s trial (ADF supports Prop 8):

“Thursday revealed a staggering amount of anti-Christian sentiments put forth in the plaintiffs’ case, in addition to their continued attack against the democratic process. Completing the cross-examination of Dr. Gary M. Segura, the professor of political science from Stanford, was the first order of the day. While Dr. Segura continued his own theme that religion is standing in the way of those who want to redefine marriage from gaining political power, he was also required to make several concessions which were damaging to the plaintiffs’ case.

“Among these admissions were several about the reactionary behavior of those who opposed Proposition 8, which resulted in a self-inflicted loss of their own political clout. Though Dr. Segura attempted to diminish the severity of the wound, something already known by those who supported Proposition 8 became abundantly clear for everyone else during the discussion: many who opposed Proposition 8 used threats, harassment, intimidation, violence, and property damage to carry their message, while those who supported Proposition 8 employed lawful means to make their points.

“This entire trial has been little more than an attempt by activists advancing the homosexual legal agenda to use emotion and sympathy in order to convince the court that marriage is unconstitutional. But when presented with a real victim, a young girl assaulted by a Castro mob, the mask fell off. The video played, and as the girl described the attack, jeers, scoffs, and giggles filled the courtroom.

“Before leaving the witness stand, Dr. Segura made an astounding statement. One of his opinions was that the ‘gay and lesbian community” possessed no ‘reliable allies’ in the political world. This includes, in his opinion, President Obama, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Rep. Barney Frank, and others whom he dismisses as not being true political allies of those who want to redefine marriage. This was quite an interesting statement because, as Dr. Segura was giving that testimony, I could not ignore that I was sitting at the counsel table, occupying chairs that are supposed to be occupied by attorneys for both the governor and attorney general of the State of California. Both Gov. [Arnold] Schwarzenegger and [Attorney] General [Jerry] Brown took solemn oaths to uphold, protect, and defend the constitution and laws of the State of California. Yet, here the plaintiffs are, attacking the constitution of the State of California, and both Gov. Schwarzenegger and [Attorney] General Brown, as we all know, are refusing to defend the case. Other examples could be given as well. Nonetheless, Dr. Segura had the audacity to testify, under oath, that in California, the ‘gay and lesbian community’ has no ‘reliable allies’ in politics.

“Following the testimony of Dr. Segura, in a desperate attempt to continue to paint the over 7 million Californians who voted ‘yes’ on Proposition 8 as bigots, the plaintiffs called to the stand Dr. Hak-Shing Tam, one of the official proponents of Proposition 8. In the courtroom, Dr. Tam represented many of us who are concerned about attempts to redefine marriage in our country. Dr. Tam is a chemical engineer who cares about his family, his community, and his state. He decided, like so many others, to get involved and make a difference, so he used his contacts with the Chinese press and Chinese churches to help support Proposition 8.

“Like millions of Californians, Dr. Tam shared with the court his belief that the redefinition of marriage in our society will take a grave toll on our communities and children. There is a lot of evidence to prove this fact. Adultery, no-fault divorce, and fatherlessness are just a few of the large problems associated with the erosion of the marriage culture in our country already. Yet, the plaintiffs [Thursday] possessed no shame in their efforts to mock Dr. Tam for holding these beliefs. Dr. Tam was questioned about his affiliations, his associations, who he knew (and who the plaintiffs demanded that he knew, even though he didn’t know them), and what he believed. In other words, Dr. Tam had his religious and political views placed under a judicial microscope to determine whether they were ‘correct’ in the eyes of the law. Yes, you heard me right. The plaintiffs are trying hard to cast as legally wrong the political and religious beliefs of those who do not agree with them.

“As the day lingered on, and the assault on Dr. Tam continued, I couldn’t help but think of a famous moment from the past involving Sen. Joseph McCarthy during his grilling of several American citizens during committee hearings. At a critical moment, when Sen. McCarthy breached an agreement regarding the hearings, Army attorney Joseph Welch came down on him saying, ‘Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator…. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?’ Had someone stood up and said this [Thursday] during the cross-examination of Dr. Tam, it wouldn’t have come a moment too soon.”
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.

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