Backers of a gay marriage ban in
California struck back at witnesses for the plaintiffs during day
three of the first federal case to challenge the constitutionality of
a gay marriage ban.
The trial began on 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 2008.
Jeffrey Zarrillo said he loved Paul Katami “probably more than I
love myself.” And Sandra Stiers testified that she was a plaintiff
in the case because she wanted to marry her partner of ten years,
On Wednesday, Letitia A. Peplau, a
social psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles,
took the stand. Peplau's UCLA bio says her “research focuses on
topics at the intersection of gender, sexual orientation, and
Peplau testified that her research
showed that “on average the level of quality is the same” as
measured by closeness, love and stability between gay and straight
She also challenged the notion that
legalizing gay marriage would have a detrimental effect on
“I have a hard time believing that a
straight couple is going to say, 'Gertrude we've been together for 30
years, but now we have to throw in the towel because Adam and Stuart
down the street are getting married,'” she said.
But during cross-examination,
Proposition 8 lawyers managed to get Peplau to concede to the
possibility that gay men are less monogamous than heterosexual men
Citing a 25-year-old paper in which
Peplau wrote “sexual exclusivity may be more the exception than the
rule in gay male relationships,” Nicole Moss asked, “You write
about a study that says 36 percent of gay men said it's important to
be monogamous, versus 70 percent of lesbians, 80 percent of straight
women and 75 percent of straight men. Is it still a fact that less
gay men believe that monogamy is important?”
Peplau agreed, saying “as a
generalization that the percentage differs,” but then added that
the paper was outdated, and written at a time when “gay
relationships were much more secretive.”
In an attempt to shore up the defense's
argument that marriage is designed primarily for procreation, Moss
questioned Peplau about the children of such marriages.
The questioned flummoxed Peplau who
eventually responded, “If your question is if two lesbians can
accidentally, spontaneously impregnate each other: not to my
Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R.
Walker also viewed a video deposition of San Francisco resident
Hak-Shing William Tam, a defendant in the case, who discussed a
letter he wrote to Chinese-American church groups in support of
Tam wrote that legalizing gay marriage
is part of a broader gay agenda that includes the legalization of sex
“On their agenda list is: legalize
having sex with children,” Tam wrote. The letter goes on to warn
that “other states would fall into Satan's hands” if the gay
marriage ban is not approved.
Opponents of Proposition 8 say the
measure – approved by 52% of voters – was approved out of animus
towards gay men and lesbians. Backers disagree, saying they only
wanted to preserve traditional marriage.
The trial resumes Thursday.