Prop 8 attorneys talk history of marriage

January 12, 2010 5:35:19 PM PST
The judge in the groundbreaking federal trial on gay marriage heard testimony Tuesday about the history of marriage. Some of that testimony revolved around the definition of marriage. Talking points included the customs, cultures, laws and policies of the institution which gays and lesbians are fighting to join.

Attorneys hoping to strike down Prop 8 picked up where they left off Monday, questioning Harvard history professor Nancy Cott, an expert on American marriage. With her testimony, they hoped to poke holes in arguments made in opening statements by Prop 8 supporters and show how marriage has changed over the course of American history.

Part of their argument is against the claim that procreation benefits from marriage. Cott testified that, "There has never been a requirement that a couple produce children to have a valid marriage."

Cott's testimony highlighted the history and plight of freed slaves to marry, the struggles of interracial couples, and the battle by women to retain personal property within a marriage. She highlighted that a woman "lost her legal individuality. Jane Doe became Mrs. John Smith."

On cross-examination, Prop 8 supporters took aim at Cott's credibility, trying to paint her as an "advocate of same-sex marriage." The often tedious questioning covered her lengthy body of work which dates back to the 1970s. Prop 8 attorney David Thompson questioned her on issues of marriage that ranged from the Puritans coming to America, to the infidelity of Former President Clinton.

Still, the attorneys for the sponsors of Prop 8 feel they damaged testimony of a key expert.

"In some respects, I can say that the testimony became a disaster for the plaintiffs today," Andy Pugno lead counsel for Protect Marriage told ABC7.

Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami are one of the couples who are plaintiffs. They say they were willing to be a part of the case for one key reason.

"Marriage is our civil right, and that being gay does not change our being Americans," Katami said.