Prop. 8 backer questioned about child sex comment
Published: Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 9:44 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 9:44 a.m.
SAN FRANCISCO— Animosity against gays was so prevalent in the campaign to ban same-sex marriage in California that voters were told legalizing sex with children was next if gay couples were given the right to wed, according to attorneys trying to overturn the measure.
San Francisco resident Hak-Shing William Tam, a defendant in the case, wrote in a letter to Chinese-Americans church groups during the 2008 campaign that legalizing same-sex marriage was part of a broader gay agenda.
"On their agenda list is: legalize having sex with children," states the letter, which also cautioned that "other states would fall into Satan's hands" if gays weren't stopped from marrying in California.
On Wednesday, lawyers for two same-sex couples who are challenging the law presented footage of Tam discussing the letter in a deposition taped last month. They're using it to buttress their contention that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional because it was fueled by deep-seated animosity against gays.
The trial — brought by opponents of the state's same-sex marriage prohibition — resumes Thursday with testimony from an economist for the San Francisco city government on the financial costs to the city of not allowing gays to marry.
During his deposition, Tam explained that he based his views on personal experience and a Web site that described a 1972 meeting of gay rights activists.
"My daughter told me her classmates chose to become lesbians and experiment with it after they noticed that same-sex marriage, they think it is a cool thing," Tam said. "They have some problem getting dates with boys, so same-sex marriage, since it is in the air, they think, 'Oh, why not try girls.'"
David Thompson, a lawyer for Proposition 8 backers, told Walker that despite Tam's official role as a sponsor of the measure, Tam had nothing to do with the campaign and "is attempting to withdraw to avoid precisely this kind of focus on his individual views."
The trial under way here is the first in a federal court to examine the constitutionality of laws limiting marriage to a man and a woman. Regardless of the outcome, Walker's ruling is likely to make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where a decision could uphold or overturn bans on gay marriage nationwide.
In other court action, a psychologist from the University of California, Los Angeles, testified on behalf of two same-sex couples in the lawsuit that her research showed gay and straight couples "are indistinguishable" in terms of the stability of and satisfaction with their relationships.
Based on her own and other studies, Letitia Peplau concluded that nothing suggests that extending marriage to same-sex couples would cause marriage rates to fall and divorces to rise for heterosexuals.
But she also acknowledged that her answers were not research-based because there has been no long-term study on the social impact of same-sex marriage.
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