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|Posted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 3:50 pm Post subject: Prop 8 trial: Defense witness says gay marriage would help c
|Prop 8 trial: Defense witness says gay marriage would help children
By The Associated Press
01.27.2010 9:01am EST
(San Francisco) Allowing same-sex couples to get married would improve the well-being of children raised by gay parents but should not be pursued as social policy because it would further weaken marriage as an institution, the head of a private think tank testified during a federal trial challenging California’s gay marriage ban.
David Blankenhorn, president of the New York-based Institute for American Values, took the stand Tuesday as the second and final expert witness for the ban’s sponsors. Their lawyers are trying to prove that the voter-approved initiative, known as Proposition 8, serves a legitimate public purpose.
Blankenhorn faced an exhaustive and frequently biting cross-examination from David Boies, a lead lawyer for two same-sex couples suing to overturn the 2008 ballot measure as a violation of their constitutional rights. Boies tried to discredit Blankenhorn by getting him to acknowledge that his advanced degree is in comparative labor history and that he has not conducted any independent research on same-sex marriage.
“I have read articles and had conversations with people and tried to be an informed person about it, and that really has been the extent of it,” he said.
Blankenhorn said he thought it was important to preserve the child-rearing function of marriage because research by others showed that being raised by biological parents in a stable marriage produced the most well-adjusted children. But he said he was unaware of any studies showing that children raised by gay or lesbian couples since birth fared more poorly than children brought up by their biological mother and father.
“Do you believe that legalizing same-sex marriage would improve the well-being of children raised by those households,” Boies asked.
“Adopting same-sex marriage would be likely to improve the well-being of gay and lesbian households and their children,” Blankenhorn said.
The evidence phase of the trial, the first in a federal court to examine if the U.S. Constitution prohibits denying gays and lesbians the right to wed, is expected to wrap up on Wednesday after Blankenhorn is questioned again by defense lawyers.
Chief U.S. Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who is hearing the case without a jury, said he wanted a few weeks to review the 12 days of testimony before hearing closing arguments.
Earlier Tuesday, Blankenhorn testified that marriage developed to provide children with clear ties to their biological parents but is in such tenuous condition that extending the institution to same-sex couples could be its death blow. Heterosexuals were responsible for rising divorce and out-of-wedlock birth rates, he said, but that legalizing same-sex marriages could accelerate the process and possibly lead to the legalization of polygamy.
“The man-woman customary basis for marriage in turn reinforces limiting marriage to two. If you knock out one of those pillars, the other becomes less comprehensible and therefore less defensible,” he said.
Blankenhorn and Boies had some tense exchanges when Boies tried to get Blankenhorn to say the none of the documents he relied on in preparing his testimony concluded that same-sex marriage would undermine heterosexual marriages. Blankenhorn wanted to give nuanced answers while Boies told him he could only answer yes, no or I don’t know. After attempting to talk over one another, both men looked beseechingly at the judge to intervene.
“I get to ask the questions. You get to answer them,” Boies snapped.
“That’s what they tell me,” Blankenhorn countered.