Prop. 8 Witness Says Gays Excluded

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Gays and lesbians possess the least political power of any minority group, said Stanford political scientist Gary Segura, whose testimony in the trial against California’s Proposition 8 began Wednesday and continued Thursday morning. Even the most stalwart of their allies falter in the face of political reprisals, Segura said, citing President Obama’s unfulfilled promise of repealing the Pentagon’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. “President Obama is the best example of an ally that cannot be counted on,” Segura said.

     “His rhetoric far exceeds his actions. Most gay activists and organizations feel that President Obama has been particularly disappointing.”
     Gays and lesbians are subject to more political exclusion and discrimination than even black Americans were during the Civil Rights movement, Segura said.
     “Though some may argue that blacks suffered more discrimination than gays and lesbians, the 1965 Voting Rights Act allowed African-Americans to elect members of their community to political office. Prior to World War II, Executive Order 8803 prohibited the government from contracting with companies that discriminated against blacks, and in 1948, Truman desegregated the military,” Segura said. “So they at least had some statutory protections and constitutionally established equality.
     “In contrast, gays and lesbians are in a very different position. In 1990, there was not a single constitutional establishment for equality for gays and lesbians.”
     Most states do not have hate crime laws, Segura said, adding that homosexuals are the least able of all minority groups to advance their political causes and pass legislation in their favor. Voters have passed constitutional amendments prohibiting gays and lesbians from marrying in 30 states.
     “They simply do not have the numbers or resources to obtain politically favorable outcomes,” Segura said.
     But it is religion, Segura said, that serves as the chief obstacle for gay and lesbian political progress. Segura said that religion was the driving force behind Prop. 8’s success.
     David Thompson, an attorney for supporters of Prop. 8, objected to the introduction of letters and emails between “Yes on 8” campaign organizers and Evangelical and Mormon church leaders. But U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said the correspondence was not covered by constitutional privacy protections.
     The letters revealed the churches’ plans to provide Prop. 8 supporters with campaign volunteers and donations, which Segura said showed a “fairly close connection between church hierarchy and leaders of the ballot initiative.”
     While most churches supported the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, they oppose homosexuality and same-sex marriage on moral grounds, Segura said, which translated to many “Yes on 8” votes among churchgoers in 2008.
     “The Bible teaches against homosexuality and religion views gays as morally inferior,” he said. “And it’s very hard to overcome that.”

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