Tuesday, during the federal trial to
decide the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the defense's second –
and final – witness surprised when he testified that legalizing gay
marriage would “improve the well-being of gay and lesbian
households and their children.”
The trial, now in its third week, began
with the emotional testimony of a gay and a lesbian couple, each of
which has been denied the right to marry in California because of
Proposition 8, the gay marriage ban approved by voters in 2008.
David Blankenhorn, founder and
president of the conservative think tank Institute for American
Values, also told the court that homophobia is a “real presence”
in our society. He said, I “regret and deplore it, and wish it to
But he also asserted that the best
environment for children is a heterosexual marriage.
“The optimal environment for children
is if they're raised from birth by their own natural mother, who is
married to their own natural father,” he testified.
Blankenhorn has written extensively on
the subject of marriage and fatherhood. He is the author of The
Future of Marriage and Fatherless America: Confronting our
Most Urgent Social Problem.
Last February, Blankenhorn, along with
co-author Jonathan Rauch, made a bit of a splash in the gay
blogosphere when his A
Reconciliation on Gay Marriage op-ed appeared in the New
York Times. The piece offered a compromise of sorts on gay
“It would work like this: Congress
would bestow the status of federal civil unions on same-sex marriage
and civil unions granted at the state level, thereby conferring upon
them most or all of the federal benefits and rights of marriage. But
there would be a condition: Washington would recognize only those
unions licensed in states with robust religious-conscience
exceptions, which provide that religious organizations need not
recognize same-sex unions against their will. The federal government
would also enact religious-conscience protections of its own. All of
these changes would be enacted in the same bill.”
During a sometimes heated
cross-examination, David Boies, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, hammered
out more concessions from the defense's final witness.
Without elaboration, Blankenhorn said
that gay marriage in the United States would make the country “more
Lawyers in favor of gay marriage have
argued that proponents of Proposition 8 approved the measure out of
animus towards gay men and lesbians. The defense says limiting
marriage to heterosexual unions fosters a stable environment to raise
Blankenhorn's testimony drove home
their argument: “Marriage is a socially approved sexual
relationship between a man and a woman. Marriage does a number of
things, but the most important thing it does is regulate affiliation.
It establishes who are the child's legal and social parents.”
The trial resumes Wednesday, when
lawyers are expected to present final evidence, but Chief US District
Judge Vaughn R. Walker is not expected to hear closing arguments.
Walker has said he wants to review the evidence first.