On the second day of the trial of
Proposition 8, lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that discrimination
was at the root of the gay marriage ban.
Two Ivy League historians testified on
the discrimination faced by gay men and lesbians on Tuesday.
The trial – the first federal case to
challenge the constitutionality of a gay marriage ban – began
Monday in San Francisco with the emotional testimony of a gay and a
lesbian couple who have been denied the right to marry in California
because of Proposition 8, the gay marriage ban approved by voters in
Harvard University professor Nancy
Cott, an expert on marriage in the United States, and George
Chauncey, a Yale University historian who has written about anti-gay
discrimination testified for the plaintiffs. Chauncey is the author
of Why Marriage? The history shaping today's debate over gay
equality and Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the
Making of the Gay Male World, 1890 – 1940.
Cott's testimony was designed to poke
holes at arguments made by Proposition 8 supporters in their opening
statements, including the argument that marriage is designed
primarily for procreation.
“The institution of marriage has
always been at least [as much] about supporting adults as it has about
supporting minors,” she testified, then added, “There has never
been a requirement that a couple produce children to have a valid
Chauncey testified on more than 100
years of discrimination against gay men and lesbians, telling the
court that “demonic stereotypes” of gay people continue today,
especially with folks who interact with children such as teachers and
When asked, Chauncey agreed that
negative gay stereotypes had been used in the campaign to approve
Proposition 8. While admitting that the campaign did not call gay
people child molesters, he said its focus on kids implied as much.
Proponents for Proposition 8 attempted
to discredit both witnesses by labeling them gay rights advocates.
Within minutes of leaving the stand, Proposition 8 counsel Andrew
Pugno called Cott's testimony “a disaster for the plaintiffs”
during a midday press conference.
Lawyers return to the courtroom on