Prop 8 Trial! Day 8 Summary

Once again, from the desk of Howard Mintz:


4:54 p.m.: Plaintiff’s lawyer shows e-mails linking William Tam to Prop 8 campaign

The 8th day of the Prop. 8 trial is done. William Tam, a leading Prop. 8 proponent, spent an eventful afternoon on the stand. Plaintiffs attorney David Boies finished up by trying to debunk the Prop. 8 legal team’s attempt to portray Tam as a rogue official during the campaign who made harsh remarks about gays and lesbians without the stamp of approval from the Prop. 8 campaign. Boies showed a series of e-mails and other evidence that linked Tam to the campaign and leaders, and noted that he was directly involved in organizing rallies against same-sex marriage.

The trial resumes Friday with the plaintiffs final witness, UC-Davis psychology professor Greg Herek, who is expected to testify about the nature of homosexuality. Prop. 8 officials say they then have two expert witnesses to put on the stand.

(Read Howard Mintz’s recap of the day’s proceedings in the Proposition 8 trial later today online on this Web site and in tomorrow’s Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune, and other Bay Area News Group papers. Return to this Web site for live coverage of the Proposition 8 trial each and every day court is in session).

4:21 p.m.: Prop 8 lawyer depicts proponent William Tam as a renegade

Prop. 8 attorney Nicole Moss moved swiftly through her cross-examination of Prop. 8 proponent William Tam, depicting him as a renegade whose often harsh comments about gays and lesbians were never authorized by the Prop. 8 campaign. It is an attempt to distance any Tam remarks that could be perceived as discriminatory from Prop. 8 and its official backers, Plaintiffs lawyer David Boies is about to resume questioning Tam. Surely, he will try to glue Tam back to Prop. 8’s campaign.

4:07 p.m.: Prop 8 proponent says he didn’t get his statements approved by campaign

Plaintiffs attorney David Boies has finished with William Tam, one of the Prop. 8 proponents, and he is now under cross-examination by Prop. 8 attorney Nicole Moss (although Tam is on the Prop. 8 side, it is cross, as he was called by the plaintiffs).

It appears that Tam is getting nudged under the bus a bit by the Prop. 8 team. Boies asked Tam about a variety of inflammatory statements he made about gay marriage during the Prop. 8 campaign, and Moss is now pressing Tam on whether he followed internal guidelines within the campaign to get any messages cleared by the Prop. 8 campaign manager. This was part of “message discipline” guidelines for the campaign’s officials. Asked by Moss whether he got his messages pre-approved, Tam said he did not.

The thrust of the questioning appears to be that Prop. 8 backers believe Tam went rogue during the campaign.Lawyers for same-sex couples are trying to use Tam to show that Prop. 8 was fueled by discrimination against gays and lesbians.

3:30 p.m.: Prop 8 proponent says allowing gay marriage would lead to incest, polygamy

William Tam, the Prop. 8 proponent still on the witness stand, has supplied the day’s sound bite describing his views of same-sex marriage. As plaintiffs attorney David Boies asked him about likening gay marriage to polygamy, incest and other illegal relationships, Tam said:

“I believe if the term marriage can be used beyond one man, one woman, then any two persons of any age, of any relationship, can use the same argument to come and ask for the term marriage. That would lead to incest. That would lead to polygamy. If this is a civil right, what would prevent other groups form asking for the same right.”

Tam uses the phrase “moral decay” to describe allowing gay marriage.

Tam’s testimony is a component of the plaintiffs attempt to show that Prop. 8 was fueled by hostility against gays and lesbians that renders the law discriminatory and a violation of their federal equal protection rights

2:41 p.m.: Prop 8 proponent grilled on views about homosexuality

Here we go. Plaintifs attorney David Boies is baring his Bush v. Gore fangs on William Tam, a leading proponent of Prop. 8 and ardent foe of same-sex marriage. He’s confronted Tam on his advocacy of Prop. 8 during the campaign, when he said allowing gay marriage would lead to legalizing prostitution as well as legalizing sex with children. Boies pointed to a position from Prop. 8 supporters that gays were 12 times more likely to molest children, a fact Tam said he believes.

Where’d you learn that? Boies asked. I don’t recall, Tam replied.

“I’m asking you what you read?” Boies asked, voice rising, wanting to know how that could be put out to support Prop. 8.

“I don’t remember,” Tam said. “Was it a book?” Boies kept on. “An article?” he asked. “Who wrote it?”

“I don’t know,” Tam said.

Boies continued to press on messages from gay marriage opponents that Tam endorsed, including the fact that San Francisco government was “run by homosexuals.” How could that be, the mayor isn’t homosexual, is he? Boies asked. Tam agreed. Boies asked why he pushed Prop. 8 by saying same-sex marriage would result in legalizing prostitution. “That didn’t have anything to do with Proposition 8, did it sir?” Boies asked.

“Right,” Tam said.

Boies also confronted Tam with e-mails in which he said California would fall into the “hands of Satan” if gay marriage were permitted. The questioning continues.

2:20 p.m.: Prop 8 leader supports domestic partner rights, also supports linking homosexuality to pedophilia

William Tam, a leading Prop. 8 proponent from San Francisco, has just outlined his primary reasons for supporting a ban on same-sex marriage, under questioning from plaintiffs attorney David Boies. “It is very important for the next generation to understand the historical meaning of marriage,” he said. “It is very important our children won’t grow up to fantasize or think about “should I marry Jane or John when I grow up.—

Tam said these principles are important to the Asian community, which he tried to mobilize in favor of Prop. 8.

Responding to Boies, Tam said he supported domestic partner rights for gays and lesbians, as well as protections in employment and housing. He said he had not “come to conclusion” about whether they should be permitted to adopt children. He did, however, support the message on a Web site that linked homosexuality to pedophilia.

At the same time, asked whether he considers himself “hostile to gays and lesbians,” Tam replied: “No, I don’t.”

1:40 p.m.: Prop. 8 proponent William Tam begins testimony

Proposition 8 proponent William Tam is on the witness stand, being questioned by plaintiffs attorney David Boies. Boies is starting slowly with Tam, going through how he got enlisted in the campaign to outlaw same-sex marriage in California. Tam’s lawyer has objected to any questions related to Tam’s political views or motivation for pushing Proposition 8, but it is clear Chief Judge Vaughn Walker will consider such questions fair game.

Tam’s testimony is a key ingredient in the plaintiffs’ effort to show that hostility and animus toward gays and lesbians fueled the passage of Proposition 8. Defenders say it was designed to preserve traditional marriage, not as a form of bias against gays and lesbians.

1:22 p.m.: Leading Prop. 8 proponent to take stand

The trial has resumed with William Tam, a leading Proposition 8 proponent, preparing to take the stand. His lawyer is currently asking Judge Vaughn Walker about Tam’s request to withdraw as a named intervenor in defense of Proposition 8 (Tam asked to withdraw because of what he considers the burden of the litigation and threats to his family.) Walker appears reluctant to let him out.

It is unlikely to have an impact on his testimony; he’s been subpoenaed either way.

12:13 p.m.: Lunch break, then Prop. 8 proponent will be on hot seat

Buckle your seat belts, Proposition 8 trial watchers. William Tam, a controversial proponent behind the ban on same-sex marriage, is ready to take the stand, setting up a chance for gay-marriage advocates to go toe to toe with a leading Proposition 8 backer who will be under oath in a federal courtroom.

Tam asked Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker to let him out of the legal challenge as a named defendant, worried about threats to his family and himself from gay rights advocates. Now, Tam will be in the hot seat. Among other things, he has said gay marriage would lead to “legalizing having sex with children,” and encourage children to embrace a homosexual lifestyle. He also said same-sex marriage is the work of Satan.

But first, lunch. Walker has taken the daily break.

Stanford law Professor Gary Segura finished up a full day of testimony, reiterating his central point, that gays and lesbians are bereft of true political power and are as vulnerable as any minority group to ever encounter discrimination.

11:22 a.m.: Prof likens gay and lesbian boycotts, protest to civil rights movement of 1960s

Proposition 8 lawyer David Thompson has finished his cross-examination of Stanford professor and plaintiffs expert Gary Segura, although, it would appear, reluctantly. After spending all afternoon Wednesday and through this morning in his questioning, Chief Judge Vaughn Walker indicated he’d given Thompson more than enough time to make his point with Segura, who is on the stand to outline the vulnerability of gays and lesbians in the American political process. Indeed, when Thompson was prepared to keep going, the judge interceded, saying the length of his examination was “at the edge of the pale.” (Not beyond, mind you, at the edge).

Thompson asked one more question and retreated to the defense table. Plaintiffs attorney Theodore Boutrous Jr. is now requestioning Segura, trying to counteract Thompson’s line of attack on the issue of gay and lesbian boycotts, protests and incidents of confronting Proposition 8 supporters. Segura, likening it to the civil rights movement of the 1960s, said such incidents aren’t always positive, but added, “I don’t think that’s indictment of the entire group.”

10:46 a.m.: Bill O’Reilly makes cameo appearance via video clip

Familiar faces in the national debate over same-sex marriage continue to make cameos in the Proposition 8 trial. This time, it was Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly, shown in a video clip of one of his shows during the Proposition 8 campaign. Proposition 8 attorney David Thompson introduced the clip of an interview with a young woman who said she was attacked in San Francisco’s Castro District during a demonstration before the election, supposedly hit over the head by a “gay activist” with a bible and assaulted. Thompson was using the clip as part of his effort in cross-examining plaintiffs expert Gary Segura to show incidents of unruly and violent outbursts by gays and lesbians against supporters of Proposition 8. The Stanford professor has been testifying for nearly a full day on what he considers the political vulnerability of gays and lesbians.

Judge Vaughn Walker did ask Segura whether he’d explored any political fallout against African-Americans as a result of riots and demonstrations during the 1960s civil rights movement. It wasn’t entirely clear where the judge was going with that one.

When Segura is done testifying, the trial will shift into full confrontation mode with the testimony of William Tam, a controversial leader in the Proposition 8 campaign.

10:05 a.m.: Lawyer introduces information about attacks on Prop. 8 supporters

Chief Judge Vaughn Walker just took a brief break in the Proposition 8 trial, in part to swear in two lawyers to the federal bar. Stanford Professor Gary Segura remains under cross-examination, and will be stuck there for another hour. (Proposition 8 lawyer David Thompson told the judge he was moving slower than he anticipated, to which the judge replied: Yes, you are.) Thompson has introduced information about several incidents of vandalism or physical attacks on Proposition 8 supporters during the campaign, trying to get Segura to admit they undercut gay and lesbian political power. Segura has acknowledged such incidents never look good for any side, but downplays their importance in the larger picture of gay and lesbian political clout (or lack of it).

9:23 a.m.: Prop. 8 lawyer: Religious belief spurred voter attitudes

Stanford University political-science Professor Gary Segura has been back under cross-examination by Proposition 8 lawyer David Thompson, who is probing the plaintiffs’ expert on the religious motivations behind voters approving California’s ban on same-sex marriage. At one point, when Thompson noted that religious beliefs spurred voter attitudes, Segura quipped: “Mr. Thompson, have you switched sides? That is correct.”

Segura has been testifying for nearly a day on the political “powerlessness” of gays and lesbians that leaves them vulnerable and in need of greater federal constitutional protection, an important ingredient in the attempt to invalidate Proposition 8. Proposition 8 supporters insist voters support a gay marriage ban to protect traditional heterosexual marriage, not out of hatred and bias against gays and lesbians.

The plaintiffs have two witnesses left today and tomorrow. One is William Tam, a controversial Proposition 8 proponent, and the other is Greg Herek, a University of California-Davis psychology professor who will testify on mental health research on gays and lesbians and the impact of denying them the right to marry.

8:25 a.m.: Cross-examination of Stanford prof about to resume

The Proposition 8 trial will resume at 8:30 a.m. Stanford University Professor Gary Segura will be back on the stand under cross-examination by Proposition 8 lawyers. Segura has been testifying that gays and lesbians don’t have meaningful political power. Proposition 8 lawyers indicated late Wednesday that they plan to cross-examine Segura for about 90 minutes more.


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Joel on January 26, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    A couple things that bother me about the trailer for that film. –
    1.) The LDS church funded a lot of the campaigning for prop 8. Yes. Last time I checked, thats pretty much what people need to do to get a voice out. Good for us for being proactive. We wont cry when some rich homsexual person funds a campaign for his/her own agenda. God for him/her for being proactive. California voted. Why not get mad at california?
    2.) The signs that say “homo sex is sin” were NOT held up by LDS people. Pretty much gauranteed. As a whole, we behave in public very well. There are crazy religious zealots in all christian faiths, and the director obviously is misleading people by insinuating that those signs were made by LDS people. Thats ok though, because ignorant people will believe anything they see that ignites their passion. Have you seen the people protesting outside our temple? Those guys are the nuttiest of the nutty, but we really dont care. And we dont film them and show them to other people to help our plight. Its not worth our time.
    3.) The backlash against the church after prop 8 was violent and damaging to church property. Grafitti on temples etc. However, we didnt make a big deal about it.
    4.) The camera cuts make the LDS church leaders look evil. And, the edits from general conference talks were taken out of context, and made to beef up the overall mormons-are-evil image of the film.

    Just thought I would point those things out. If you see the film, and you get all heated up, that means you need to take a step back and realize that not everything is what it seems. We’re an easy target and this film might do some damage, but we wont cry.


    • Posted by ethingtoneric on January 27, 2010 at 10:49 am

      Joel; The issue is what the causes were of the LDS Church’s actions. Of the horror, violence and bigotry that resulted from their actions. Also, please check facts before making assumptions like the “homo sex is sin” signs were “guaranteed” not being held by LDS people. Ever heard of America Forever? Anti-gay LDS group. And just so you know, the general conference talks were not taken out of context, each one referenced specifically the Mormon Church’s fight to force people who are not members of their religion to conform to their standards (Hey, where have I heard that line of think before? Some story about the pre-existence right?)

      While I admire your passion Joel. Please study up before coming to the table next time mmk?


  2. Posted by Joel on January 27, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    America Forever does not represent the church. You know that. If reed cowan filmed America Forever and portrayed it as the LDS church, then that is just as wrong and dishonest. I find it funny that while you are an intelligent person and do good research for your cause, you can’t identify simple things like that.
    You are being irrational and unfair when you say the church caused all sorts of violence and bigotry, and “forcing” ways upon the nation. You love that word, because it is a “i am the victim” word. Isn’t the LBGT community fighting to “force” their ways on us, if you look at it that way? Gay marriage did not always exist, and you know that. You could say everything was fine and dandy until people starting fighting for gay marriage, thus “forcing” your ways on us. What I mean is, theres no forcing going on. Ballots are what makes laws pass. If gay marriage becomes legal, then my kid has to sit in school and listen to that. Thats why democracy is so important. The majority voted “yes” on Prop 8 . If they vote “no” later, then that is what the country wants. 51-52% of californians voted yes on prop 8. Focusing your hate on the LDS church is childish, and beats around the fact that there are PLENTY of not people not LDS that will not stand for gay marriage in our great country. The whole thing with the issue is that when the LGBT community fails at something, they make themselves look like the victim. Since you seem to have an understanding of doctrine, you know why we pushed for prop 8 to pass. Sorry you interpret it as hatred and bigotry. And you dont admire my passion, so dont say stupid things like that. Be honest with yourself.


    • Posted by ethingtoneric on January 28, 2010 at 12:08 pm

      Quite contrary to your snide remark, I do admire your passion. Too many people in this country have no opinion at all, so even though I disagree with you I’m still glad that you are at least thinking about the issues. As to your first remark, I have never claimed or insinuated that America Forever represents the LDS church as a whole, however I mentioned them as an example to disprove your claims that no Mormons would hold signs like that.

      As to your next comments, you’re looking at this issue in a very…shall we say “interesting” light. You seem to think that this is similar to passing a new speed limit law, in that it’s something mundane but will still have a direct impact on you because it will put other cars at risk if the limit is increased. This is about humans. Can you try to understand that please? This is about the right of people to live as they see best in their own lives. This whole argument you’re claiming, trying to turn this around and claim we are trying to force this on you.. fluff. Same-sex marriage becoming legal would not force you to marry someone of the same sex would it? Or even obligate you to? Of course not. We are talking about creating equal rights. Meaning that I will have the same legal protections as you. Isn’t that what our constitution is founded on? Justice and equality for all?
      But really to look at it another way, I’m going to assume (forgive me if I’m incorrect) that you’re married. How does being married make you feel? Do you draw strength from your marriage? Would you say it creates happiness in your life. Can’t you understand that we are trying to achieve that in our lives too? We want the same possibility that you have to be happy and have that fulfillment in our lives.
      Oh and by the way, don’t try to start with that whole “it’ll be taught to my kids in school” stuff. That was very quickly proven to be a false, and misleading propaganda tactic of the Pro 8 campaign which has no basis in fact whatsoever.


      • Posted by Joel on January 28, 2010 at 2:51 pm

        Yes I understand your argument, and I do feel somewhat sympathetic towards the marriage issue. (ie Not being able to marry someone you love) I truly do. I guess that is where I dont have anything more to say though, because I dont totally understand what gay marriage would do to this country. I have some ideas, but thats pretty much it. Other than that, Im just trying to follow the prophet.
        I dont know if you were a member before, but I actually have a gay friend in the church who was supporting prop 8 because he felt it was right. It was really hard for him and he struggles everyday but he pushes through. It seems to me that most of your anger/frustration is channeled towards the church, as if the LDS church is the source of all suffering for gays. I read that a newspaper in sacramento estimated that only a quarter of the money used for funding was from the LDS church. Thats definitely not a majority. unless the other 75% was given by numerous groups, which would skew the ratio. Whatever.

        I would be interested to know if you were a member before, why you left the church?

      • Posted by ethingtoneric on January 28, 2010 at 3:23 pm

        Those numbers are a bit skewed just fyi, yes about 25% came directly from the church, but another 50% came from LDS members who were directly pressured to give as much possible. Many members had their bishops come to their homes with their previous-years tithing statements saying, “based off you making this much we believe you can afford to donate this much,” then threatening them with dis-fellowship or loss of callings if they did not write the check. I grew up LDS, and that does not sound anything like the church I was taught to believe in.
        Please understand, if I sound upset with the church there is good reason behind it. While I fully respect the rights of the religion to teach what it chooses (that’s freedom of religion after all) even if I disagree with them, the church has enough blood on it’s hands with the thousands of gay youth who commit suicide because of what their parents do or say in the name of their church.
        If you would like to know my full story, read it here.

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