Sponsors of Proposition 8 presented their first witness in defense of the voter initiative in federal court in San Francisco Monday, bringing to the stand a professor who testified that gays and lesbians are a potent political force in California.
Kenneth Miller, an assistant professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, testified on the 10th day of a trial on a lawsuit challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage.
Two same-sex couples claim the measure, approved by voters in 2008 as Proposition 8, violates heir federal constitutional rights. U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker will decide the case without jury.
Miller's testimony was intended to refute the plaintiffs' claim that homosexual rights deserve the highest level of legal protection, in the same way that racial minority rights have been safeguarded by courts, because gays lack political power and have suffered discrimination based on a characteristic they can't change.
He said gays and lesbians have access to many of the "key determinants of political power" in California, including money-raising ability and alliances with other groups such as the Democratic Party, corporations, labor unions, newspapers and celebrities.
He said that during the Proposition 8 campaign, "It was startling to me to see the amount of money raised on both sides of the election, but the $43 million raised by opponents exceeded the amount raised by the Yes on 8 campaign."
Supporters of the successful measure raised $40 million.
Miller said creating alliances with other groups has historically been a way that minority groups in the United States exert power.
"In the American political system, basically everybody has to form alliances to achieve political goals," Miller said.
He said many states now have laws forbidding discrimination against gays.
Under cross-examination from plaintiffs' attorney David Boies, Miller admitted that some of the materials he relied on in his testimony were supplied by lawyers for Proposition 8 rather than his own research.
The Proposition 8 sponsors are seeking to use Miller's testimony on political power to counter the views spoken by Stanford University political science professor Gary Segura on behalf of the plaintiffs last week.
Testimony in Walker's Federal Building courtroom is scheduled to end today and the judge will hear closing arguments at a later date.
Today's trial session will begin with continued cross-examination of Miller. The Proposition 8 sponsors' second and possibly final witness will be David Blankenhorn, founder of the New York-based Institute for American Values, who will testify about family structure and marriage as an institution.