Defense lawyers rest case at Prop 8 trial

January 27, 2010 8:41:02 PM PST
After twelve days, testimony in the landmark Proposition 8 trial is over. This was the first trial in federal court to challenge the state's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. Wednesday was the final day of an often tense cross examination.

The San Francisco courtroom had never held a trial like this and there was high drama to the very end. The final witness was David Blankenhorn, founder of The American Values Institute.

He's an opponent of same-sex marriage and endured a relentless cross examination by attorney David Boies. The back and forth became so combative, Judge Walker stepped in, cautioning Blankenhorn about being viewed as a negative witness.

Blakenhorn testified that he endorses the protection of marriage, but also acknowledged several likely positives of allowing gays and lesbians to Wed. Including increased stability, greater social acceptance, and a decline in economic inequality.

Anti-Prop 8 attorneys say those concessions helped demolish the other side's case and made theirs.

"The witness they brought admitted that what was at work here was a religious divide based on prejudice and stereotypes and there was no justification?none?zero, for depriving gays and lesbians the right to marry," said Boies.

The pro-Prop 8 attorneys conceded their rivals put on "a spectacular show," but say it was irrelevant.

"I think that the plaintiffs have established there is a history of discrimination and there are people out there with anti-gay bias, but I think they completely failed to show the reason that seven million Californians voted for Prop 8 was to do harm to same-sex couples, to gays and lesbians. I don't believe that for a minute and I don't think it was proven in this case," said pro-Prop 8 attorney Andy Pugno.

ABC7's legal analyst Dean Johnson believes the judge will ultimately side with the gay couples.

"I think the only thing that's up for grabs is how broad that decision is going to be. Judge Walker could come out with a decision that says that same-sex marriage is a Constitutional right, period. Or he could decide this on equal protection grounds," says Johnson.

The attorneys have been given until February 26th to submit to the judge details of evidence they consider vital to their case. He'll review, then call them back for closing arguments. There is no date yet set for that.