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Anti-Gay Prop 8 Trial Witness Testifies of ‘Moral & Societal Decay’

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Proposition 8 supporter Hak-Shing William Tam held fast to his view that allowing same-sex couples to marry would bring about "moral and societal decay." Tam, who allied with defendant-intervenor ProtectMarriage.com in the "Yes on 8" campaign, was called to testify as a hostile witness though lawyers for proponents of California's gay marriage ban objected.

Tam's lawyer Terry Lee Thompson filed a motion on Jan. 8 to remove Tam from the witness list. But U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said Thursday that it was unfair "to join a lawsuit and then just decide to withdraw," finding it "prudent to hear Tam's testimony."

As president of the Traditional Family Coalition, Tam has been a particularly controversial friend to Prop. 8, having made inflammatory statements against gays and lesbians in various "Yes on 8" campaign materials.

David Boies, an attorney for opponents of Prop. 8, asked Tam about an article he wrote to stir up support for Prop. 8, titled "What If We Lose?" in which Tam suggested that same-sex marriage threatened children.

"What will be next? On their agenda is legalizing having sex with children," Tam's article stated.

"Is this what you told people to get them to vote for Prop. 8?" Boies asked.

Tam replied, "Yes, it was. I look at liberal countries in Europe and even Canada. Their legal age of consent is 14 or even as young as 13 years old. That is having sex with children. And these countries legalized same-sex marriage. The liberal trend, that's what I was afraid of."

But Boies said that neither Canada nor any European country changed its age of consent as a result of adopting same-sex marriage.

Tam testified that he believes homosexuality to be linked to pedophilia, and that homosexuals are 12 times more likely to molest children.

Tam cited "different literature" he had read to support his conclusion, none of which he could recall in response to Boies' questioning.

Tam said he believed homosexuality was not "genetically wired," an opinion he formed after doing some reading on the Internet, on the Web site of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) Web site.

When Boies asked if he had ever tried to find what the American Psychological Association said about homosexuality, Tam replied that he had not, but nonetheless he trusted NARTH's definition.

Ryan Kendall testified on Wednesday that NARTH, which is run by Focus on the Family, attempted to make him heterosexual through "conversion therapy," but only succeeded in turning him suicidal.

Despite his moral objections to homosexuality, Tam said he is a proponent of domestic partnerships. He said he did not support civil unions, however, until Boies said the two are one and the same.

Tam said he opposes gay marriage because of the serious connotation of the word "marriage," and its potential to harm children.

"You may say I'm a very paranoid Chinese parent," Tam said, adding that he believes children will "fantasize" about marrying people of the same sex if they are exposed to gay marriage. "But a domestic partnership, it's not called marriage, then we have something our children can understand."

Boies showed Tam a "Yes on 8" flier distributed with Tam's authorization, advertising his belief that same-sex marriage would lead to bigamy, polygamy and incest, which Tam said is likely to happen "when a country is liberal with a law regarding sex between people."

Drawing on Tam's support for domestic partnerships as a reasonable alternative to marriage, Boies said, "but two kids cannot get a domestic partnership, or a brother and sister."

"Oh, now I see where you're going with this," Tam said. "Your logic is good."

Lawyers for ProtectMarriage.com tried to downplay Tam's role in the "Yes on 8" campaign, saying he had helped gather signatures to place Prop. 8 on the 2008 ballot and that ProtectMarriage.com never approved Tam's fliers or articles.

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