The first week in the historic case challenging California’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage — Proposition 8 — came to a close on Friday, following a day of testimony in which child-rearing dominated the discussion, followed by a personal account of how marriage changed one lesbian’s life.
The trial’s fifth day began with expert witness Michael Lamb, chairman of the department of social and developmental psychology at Cambridge University in England, testifying for the plaintiffs that there is “substantial evidence” that children raised by same-sex couples “are just as likely to be as well adjusted as children raised by heterosexual parents.”
Lamb quoted the American Psychological Association’s 2004 policy statement that gays and lesbians are “as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children.”
Seven other nationwide professional organizations have taken similar positions, he said.
Lamb also said children reared by gays weren’t more likely to become gay than other children, but were more likely to be teased about their families by other children, citing review of approximately 100 studies that compared children of gay families to those reared by heterosexual couples.
The testimony was aimed at undermining warnings by Proposition 8 supporters during the campaign that gay marriage was an outright threat to children in general.
Under cross-examination, Prop 8 attorney Proposition 8 lawyer David Thompson labeled Lamb a “committed liberal,” citing his associations with the ACLU, the National Organization for Women, the NAACP and Amnesty International, and contributions to PBS.
Lamb also conceded he advocates same-sex marriage.
Thompson spent the better part of his four hour cross-examination trying to show, through other studies, that children need to be raised by their biological parents, but Lamb sticks to his research that children do just fine when raised by same-sex couples.
Lamb concluded his testimony shorty after 3 p.m., again telling presiding Judge Vaughn R. Walker: Having a gay and lesbian parent “does not make children more likely to be maladjusted than a child raised by a heterosexual couple.”
The late afternoon session was punctuated by testimony from Helen Zia, a San Francisco writer and lesbian, who is called to recount how marriage has transformed her life.
Zia is allowed to take the stand over objections from the Prop 8 side, who say her testimony is irrelevant. Walker, however, says the advantage of a non-jury trial enables him to evaluate the worth of the testimony once it is completed.
Zia testifies that she and her partner, Lia Shigemura, first married in 2004, when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom issued marriage licenses before the courts intervened.
When that marriage was invalidated, Zia testified they “felt devastated. We grieved … We felt as human beings we had been invalidated.”
The couple again married in June 2008, after the California Supreme Court struck down the state’s prior ban on gay marriage. Zia’s marriage remained intact after Prop 8 went into effect when the Court refused to dissolve unions that took place prior to the election.
Zia told the court that marriage has changed how their families perceive their relationship, “In those most important moments in our lives, marriage made it very clear we are family and where we stand,” as compared to just being “some partner.”
The day concluded without the highly anticipated testimony from William Tam, who during the campaign warned that gay marriage needed to be overturned or “one by one, other states would fall into Satan’s hands” and that children “when growing up, would fantasize marrying someone of the same sex.”
Tam is expected to be called to testify on Tuesday when the case Perry v. Schwarzenegger resumes in federal court in San Francisco.
The court is in recess Monday for the Martin Luther King holiday.
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