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Going Hostile: Boies & Co. Attack Motivations of Prop. 8 Backers

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  • Going Hostile: Boies & Co. Attack Motivations of Prop. 8 Backers

    With everything that’s gone on the past two weeks — Citizens United, Haiti, an election in Massachusetts — it’s perhaps easy to forget that a little trial out in San Francisco involving prominent lawyers and the hottest of hot-button cultural issues is well underway.

    But the trial over the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 is wrapping up its second week of testimony. How’s it gone? The Journal’s Geoffrey Fowler on Friday weighs in with a snapshot of Thursday’s proceedings, in which opponents of same-sex marriage argued that a California ban on gay marriage was motivated by hostility toward gays and lesbians, rendering the law unconstitutional. The defense is expected to begin its portion of the case on Friday. Click here for previous LB coverage of the Prop. 8 trial.

    In support of their argument, the plaintiffs on Thursday called to the stand a hostile witness who had asked to be dismissed as a defendant in the case because he feared for his safety.

    During the campaign for Proposition 8, Hak-Shing William Tam had likened gay marriage to legalizing prostitution and sex with children. On the stand, Tam said he wasn’t hostile to gays, but believed they are more likely to molest children.

    The maneuver was part of the plaintiffs’ strategy: to argue that the law not only harms gays and lesbians, but was driven by a hatred of them. “We are putting discrimination against gays and lesbians on trial. We are showing what the human costs of that discrimination are,” said David Boies, one of the lawyers representing the pro-gay-marriage side. “Every citizen has the right to decide for themselves what is moral, but no group of citizens has the right to discriminate against a minority.”

    The plaintiffs hope that, plus the personal testimonies, could help make their case that the ban is unconstitutional, in part, because the law singles out a particular group of people.

    The defense has labeled much of the plaintiffs’ testimony so far as irrelevant. “Most of what we have heard belongs in the public debate over a campaign,” he added, “but should not be used in a courtroom to interpret constitutional rights.”

    When the defense begins its portion of the trial as soon as Friday, said Andrew Pugno, the lawyer for, it will likely put on the stand experts who will testify that traditional definitions of marriage have special benefit for children that can’t be duplicated by relationships between same-sex couples.

    “We do not have to show that same-sex marriage would harm traditional marriage—but just that traditional marriage is a reasonable tool to promote the public’s interest,” said Pugno.

    Photo: AP

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