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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Lawyers representing two same-sex couples challenging the constitutionality of California’s ban on same-sex marriage have rested their case.
The move came Monday after the attorneys spent more than nine days presenting evidence on the meaning of marriage, the nature of sexual orientation, and the role of religion in shaping attitudes about both.
The trial is the first in a federal court to examine if states violate the U.S. Constitution by preventing same-sex couples from marrying.
Prominent litigators Theodore Olson and David Boies asserted in their case that Proposition 8 is a product of anti-gay bias without justification.
Lawyers for Proposition 8 sponsors have called their first witness, a Claremont College political scientist.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Lawyers representing two gay couples trying to overturn California’s gay marriage ban showed videotape Monday of a simulcast in which speakers said gay marriage would lead to polygamy and bestiality.
The footage was shown as an example of the work of San Diego pastor Jim Garlow, who helped organize evangelical Christian support for the Proposition 8 ballot measure in 2008.
In one video rally led by Garlow, an unidentified pastor warned “the polygamists are waiting in the wings, because if a man can marry a man and a woman can marry a woman, the polygamists are going to use that exact same argument and they probably are going to win.”
An unidentified woman later said “a man wanting to marry a horse, brothers and sisters, any combination would have to be allowed.”
The lawyers appeared to be introducing the material to demonstrate the campaign for the ban appealed to religious-based, anti-gay bias to scare voters into voting for the measure.
Proposition 8 sponsors objected to the video, saying the content of the simulcast was not controlled by campaign managers or leaders.
However, Chief U.S. Judge Vaughn Walker allowed the material to be put into the record because the coalition of religious and conservative groups behind Proposition 8 paid for Garlow’s work.
In the six-minutes of footage shown for Walker, various people opined on the negative consequences of legalizing gay marriage. One unidentified speaker compared the potential social impact of “this social reengineering of marriage” to the way the 9/11 terrorist attacks made the world “a fundamentally different place.”
The clips also included people saying that once same-sex marriage was legalized in Massachusetts, public schools stocked picture books that included gay couples as an example of different types of families.
“If same-sex marriage is legalized, then it must be taught as normal, acceptable and moral behavior in every single public school,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
The plaintiffs also introduced clips from promotional videos produced by other groups for distribution to churches during the Proposition 8 campaign.
In one, produced by the American Family Council in Mississippi, the chairman of the California campaign, Ron Prentice, spoke against same-sex couples raising children.
“Children need and deserve the chance to have both mother love and father love,” Prentice said.
Men and women “don’t bring to a marriage and a family the same natural set of skills and talents.” he said.
Nicole Moss, a lawyer for Proposition 8 sponsors, said the defendants might call campaign manager Frank Schubert to the witness stand to dispute the inflammatory messages came from the campaign.