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Politics

Prop. 8 Trial: Anti-Gay Marriage Witness Says Gays Have Political Clout

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Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 8:00 AM


As testimony for the Proposition 8 trial in San Francisco nears its conclusion, Claremont McKenna College government professor Kenneth Miller, a witness for anti-gay marriage lawyers, took the stand and said gays and lesbians have political clout in California.

click to enlarge Professor Kenneth Miller - CLAREMONT MCKENNA COLLEGE
  • Claremont McKenna College
  • Professor Kenneth Miller

It's one of those key legal points for Prop. 8 defense attorneys, who want to uphold the same sex marriage ban.

The defense wants to persuade U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who's presiding over the case, that since gays have political power, they don't need special protections from the court and, as a result, Proposition 8 should remain in place.

Prop. 8 plaintiffs' attorney David Boies, who wants to overturn the gay marriage ban, disputed Miller's claim during several hours of cross examination, pointing out that no gay man or woman has been elected to statewide office in California, among other things.

Miller will take the stand again this morning.

Lisa Keen of Keen News Service reports that the professor wasn't exactly a star witness for the defense during his first day in court.

Miller pointed to various gay rights victories in California that supposedly show the gay community's political strength, including the state's domestic partnership law.

But, Keen reports, Boies aggressively challenged Miller's expert knowledge of gay politics and history, asking the professor what articles and books he had read about the subjects. Miller had difficulty answering the question.

Miller's performance on the stand prompted San Jose Mercury News reporter Howard Mintz, who's been exceedingly even-handed in his live-blogging coverage of the case, to write this tough critique of pro-Prop. 8 lawyers:

"Memo to Proposition 8 defense

team: perhaps have the defense experts read a few more books and

scholarly articles before they take the stand. Regardless of how Judge

Vaughn Walker views professor Kenneth Miller's testimony on gay and

lesbian political might, Miller's day on the witness stand has been

made more difficult by plaintiffs lawyer David Boies prying confessions

from him that his reading on the subject has not been all that

extensive. Say what you will about those Ivy League plaintiffs experts

and their opinions, but that wasn't an area where the Prop. 8 lawyers

even ventured."

Ouch!

Prop. 8 defense attorneys are expected to call one more witness to the stand on Tuesday. The defense may rest its case once that testimony is completed. Lawyers will then give closing arguments sometime in February.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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