The high-profile trial of Proposition 8
ended Wednesday, but a ruling likely won't arrive until March.
Lawyers fighting for and against
Proposition 8, the gay marriage ban approved by California voters in
2008, jostled for the last time as the trial concluded its
two-and-a-half week run of contentious testimony in a San Francisco
Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R.
Walker cleared the courtroom without a ruling, saying he wanted to
review the evidence before listening to closing arguments, perhaps in
February. The decision to wrap up at a later date has likely pushed
back a ruling until March.
“I'd like to take some time to go
over all the material,” Walker told the army of lawyers arguing the
case before dismissing the courtroom.
Inside the courtroom, David Boies, a
lawyer for the plaintiffs, picked up where he left off Tuesday:
grilling defense witness David Blankenhorn.
In the cross-examining, Blankenhorn,
founder and president of the conservative think tank Institute for
American Values, became visibly exasperated at Boies' persistent
attack, accusing him of setting up “gotcha” moments.
Boies devastated the witness, whose
surprising testimony included the admission that legalizing gay
marriage would “improve the well-being of gay and lesbian
households and their children,” that homophobia is a “real
presence” in our society and that gay marriage in the United States
would make the country “more American.”
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 Tuesday 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.”
Prevailing wisdom is that Walker will
rule in favor of Proposition 8 opponents, if only for the failure of
ban supporters to attract credible witnesses. Proposition 8 lawyers
called only 2 witnesses to testify in favor of the gay marriage ban,
while lawyers for the plaintiffs strung together weeks' worth of
testimony from 17 experts.
Opponents of gay marriage, however, are
likely to appeal Walker's ruling. The case is expected to reach the
Supreme Court, where a favorable ruling has the possibility of
striking down gay marriage bans in dozens of states simultaneously.
Gay marriage activists have warned that the high court remains too
conservative to rule in their favor and an unfriendly ruling would
set back the movement, possibly by decades.