An official sponsor of Proposition 8 testified in federal court in San Francisco today that he believes same-sex marriage would lead to “social moral decay.”
Hak-Shing William Tam of San Francisco, a chemical engineer who directs a group called Traditional Family Coalition, is one of five sponsors of Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban enacted by state voters in 2008.
He was called to the stand at a trial before U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker as a hostile witness by lawyers for two same-sex couples who claim the measure violates their federal constitutional rights.
The couples are seeking to use his testimony to support their argument that one reason for striking down Proposition 8 is that it was improperly motivated by moral disapproval of gays and lesbians.
Under questioning from plaintiffs’ attorney David Boies, Tam said, “If same-sex marriage is legal, it would encourage children to explore having someone of the same sex as their future marriage partner.
“From both the Asian cultural view and also from the Christian angle, we think this is social moral decay,” he said.
Tam said he believes same-sex marriage could lead to allowing incest, pedophilia and polygamy.
He testified he agreed with a Web site statement in which an evangelical group of which he is secretary said homosexuals are 12 times more likely than heterosexuals to molest children.
Tam said he had read that statement “in the literature,” but told Boies he couldn’t remember what book or article he had read.
In cross-examination, Nicole Moss, a lawyer for Proposition 8 defenders, sought to show that Tam wasn’t acting with approval of the measure’s campaign committee, ProtectMarriage.com, when he made such statements.
“I was acting independently,” Tam said.
But under return questioning from Boies, Tam agreed he had participated in weekly campaign conference calls, invited campaign chairman Ron Prentice to an outdoor rally and, together with a colleague, received campaign funding for television and newspaper ads.
The trial, in its eighth day today, is nearing the end of the plaintiffs’ case.
The same-sex couples will present their last witness on Friday. He is psychology professor Gregory Herek of University of California at Davis, who will testify about sexual orientation.
The Proposition 8 sponsors will present at least two experts as defense witnesses to testify about the institution of marriage and the political power of homosexuals.
The trial is scheduled to end Tuesday and the judge, who is hearing the case without a jury, will issue a written ruling later.
The trial is the nation’s first in federal court on a U.S. constitutional challenge to restrictions on same-sex marriage.
Last year, all five sponsors of Proposition 8 won court approval to join the case as official parties defending the initiative. Since then, Tam has sought to withdraw as a defendant, saying he fears he and his family could be subject to vandalism or threats to their safety.
Walker said today he will decide on Tam’s status in the case later, but said Tam could be called as a witness.