This was the day of the highly anticipated testimony of William Tam, the controversial evangelical defender of Proposition 8 who is a central part of the plaintiffs point that the motive of the initiative was not to protect the state’s interest, but animus toward gays and lesbians.
A letter that Tam sent to prospective supporters during the campaign already was revealed during the discovery process, in which Tam warned that California would fall into the “hands of Satan” if Prop 8 didn’t pass, and in which he equated same-sex marriage with pedophilia and incest.
Tam was a member of the Prop 8 campaign, as his name appeared in their ballot arguments, and he also joined the case as one of its defendants. But just days before the trial started, he asked to be removed from the case, citing the fear of harassment and recrimination from the publicity generated by the case. Judge Vaughn Walker, however, refused to release him from testifying.
Under questioning by David Boies, Tam didn’t disappoint. In fact, he confirmed many of the statements that he put into the letter.
Via Howard Mintz of the San Jose Mercury News, here is one exchange:
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.
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.”
Nicole Moss, attorney for Prop 8 proponents, tried to show that Tam wasn’t acting on behalf of the campaign, that he essentially took it upon himself to make such statements without clearing it first. Yet Boies also produced e-mails showing that Tam had a substantial role.
Earlier in the day, Stanford political science professor Gary Segura continued his testimony that gays and lesbians have no meaningful political power, countering efforts by another attorney for Prop 8 proponents, David Thompson, to show that they do wield influence. As an example, he pointed to out Hollywood celebrities and other famous figures, as well as John Perez, the newly elected speaker of the House in California.
Curiously, Thompson also played a segment of “The O’Reilly Factor” that ran during the campaign in which a Prop 8 supporter reports being beaten in the Castro district. But Segura testified that such incidents can’t be taken as reflective of the gay movement, and noted that there was an increase in anti-gay violence during 2008 as well.
Andrew Pugno, attorney for Protect Marriage.com, noted the extent of the influence of gays and lesbians, contending that “homosexual political advocates have the support of Hollywood, labor
unions, the technology sector, leaders of corporate California, and
nearly every single newspaper editorial board in the state.”
He wrote, “Only down Professor Segura’s rabbit hole does the fantasy of gays
lacking political power exist, leading to the conclusion that gays and
lesbians are a defenseless minority entitled to extraordinary legal
protection. In the real world, gays and lesbians are one of the most
powerful, effective special interest groups who wield power far in
excess of their numbers. The fact that they have amassed untold
millions of dollars to fund a legal team that includes dozens of
lawyers and some of the nation’s top litigators to come into federal
court claiming to be powerless is rich with irony.”
His argument isn’t without merit, according to Margaret Talbot in the New Yorker. She writes that Segura’s testimony was “awkward timing,” given that on Wednesday a picture of Cindy McCain surfaced on the Web in which she poses for a Hollywood photographer whose waging a campaign against Prop 8.