A federal trial on same-sex marriage moved into its second week in San Francisco today with testimony from the mayor of San Diego on why he supports gay and lesbian marriage.
Mayor Jerry Sanders, a Republican, testified that he initially opposed same-sex marriage but changed his views after learning that one of his daughters is a lesbian who wanted to marry her partner.
“I believe the government should allow everyone to get married in exactly the same way,” Sanders said.
The trial before U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker is the first federal trial in the nation on a challenge under the U.S. Constitution to a ban on same-sex marriage.
A lesbian couple from Berkeley and a gay couple from Burbank claim in a civil rights lawsuit that California’s ban, enacted by voters in 2008 as Proposition 8, violates their rights to due process and equal treatment.
Walker will decide the case without a jury.
Sanders was questioned by San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera. The city of San Francisco was allowed to join the case on the side of the same-sex couples to support their claims that denial of marriage is costly to local governments.
Sanders testified that he believes Proposition 8 and similar laws have discriminatory intent.
He said the laws have the effect of saying, “We don’t think that you folks have the same type of relationship or love each other as much, so we’re not going to allow you to be married.”
During cross-examination, Brian Raum, a lawyer for Proposition 8 sponsors, showed a 2008 campaign television advertisement that alleged that same-sex marriage advocates stole campaign signs, defaced a church and assaulted Proposition 8 donors.
Sanders said he doesn’t condone violence, and that he doesn’t have firsthand information about the allegations in the video.