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Witness in Prop. 8 trial cites wide support for gays and lesbians

January 25, 2010 |  4:17 pm

A political scientist testified at a federal trial today that gays and lesbians enjoy wide support from the Democratic party, unions and many corporations, as do other minorities, including African Americans.

Professor Kenneth P. Miller, who teaches political science at Claremont McKenna College, was the first witness called by defenders of Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage in the state.

Miller testified that the Democratic Party in California was on record in support of the repeal of Proposition 8. He also testified that the California Teachers Assn. contributed $1.3 million to defeat the marriage ban and that leading industries in Silicon Valley also participated in efforts to defeat Proposition 8.

Miller's testimony portrayed California's approval of initiatives to restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples as exceptions to the state's traditional support for gay and lesbian causes. He testified that three past ballot initiatives opposed by gays and lesbians, including one that would have subjected those who were infected with HIV to quarantine, have failed overwhelmingly.

During cross-examination, David Boies, an attorney for the challengers, got Miller to admit that the entities that support gay rights also support rights for other minorities.

Boies asked Miller for examples of official discrimination against gays. Miller mentioned the federal law banning openly gay people in the military.

Under further questioning, Miller cited a federal law that defines marriage as an opposite-sex relationship and California's marriage ban that was enacted as Proposition 8.

"Looking at the institution of marriage, the state does treat heterosexual couples differently than same-sex couples," Miller said.

Miller took the stand after challengers of Proposition 8 rested their case. They introduced videos produced by supporters of Proposition 8 warning that same-sex marriage could lead to incest and other social ills.

The official Proposition 8 paid for satellite transmission of the videos to churches in California.

A woman, speaking in one of the simulcasts, warned that same-sex marriage would lead to incest and polygamy.

"Then pedophiles would have to be allowed to marry 6-, 7-, 8-year-olds," she predicted. "The man from Massachusetts who petitioned to marry his horse after [gay] marriage was instituted in Massachusetts. He'd have to be allowed to do so. Mothers and sons, sisters and brothers, any, any combination would have to be allowed."

One video showed an African American expressing irritation with comparisons of bias against gays to discrimination against African Americans, noting that people were comparing "my skin to their sin." Photographs of gay men kissing each other at their weddings also were shown.

-- Maura Dolan at the San Francisco federal courthouse