SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Expert witness testimony began Monday for proponents of Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, with political scientist Kenneth Miller testifying that gays and lesbians do not lack political power, but have plenty of friends in high places. Then the attorney for opponents of Prop. 8 tried to undermine Miller’s status as an expert with questions about gay discrimination laws and whether gay people have been elected to statewide office.
Monday’s testimony from the Claremont-McKenna professor contradicted arguments made last week by Stanford political scientist Gary Segura, who testified that gays and lesbians are the most politically vulnerable minority group and have few reliable political allies.
When it comes to politics, gays and lesbians can count on the California Legislature and elected officials, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Attorney General Jerry Brown and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, all of whom support gay rights, including same-sex marriage, Miller said.
The Legislature passed a resolution in 2007 titled “Support Same-Sex Couples in Their Right to Marry by Repealing Prop. 8,” he pointed out.
Organized labor, including the California Teacher Association and the Service Employees International Union all strongly endorsed the “No on 8” campaign, donating $1.3 million and $500,000, respectively.
“I was struck by the extent to which organized labor coalesced around the issue of same-sex relationships,” Miller said. The “No on 8” campaign raised $43 million, $3 million more than the ballot initiative’s supporters.
Voters approved Prop. 8 in 2008 by an 18 percentage point margin, Miller said. In 2000, he added, voters approved Proposition 22, the Defense of Marriage Act, by a 22 percentage point margin. Miller that said shows that the political power of gays and lesbians is growing.
In 1978 voters rejected Proposition 6, which would have allowed public schools to fire gay teachers.
David Boies, attorney form opponents of Prop. 8, then tried to expose Miller as less than expert. Boies asked Miller how many states had laws banning discrimination against gays and lesbians, and whether any openly gay or lesbian people had ever been elected to statewide office in California.
Miller could not answer either question, but stuck to his view that despite a long history of prejudice against homosexuals, things are improving for them.
“Nationally and statewide, do African-Americans have more political power than homosexuals?” Boies asked.
Miller replied that this was not something that could be determined.