Prop 8 trial witnesses: who said what on the stand

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Lawyers seeking to overturn California's ban on gay marriage presented witnesses this week that showed the impact legal marriage has on same-sex relationships.  Witness Helen Zia testified that getting married to her partner Lia Shigemura brought big changes to her life.

â┚¬Å”Marriage made it very clear that I was family, that we were family, and I was where I belonged,â┚¬Â Zia said.

Zia and her partner were among an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples that married in 2008 during a four-month window when the practice was legal in California. Until then, they had been domestic partners.

Individual testimony was presented to show that California's domestic partnership law, which grants same-sex couples the rights of marriage but not the title or the federal benefits, is not an acceptable substitute.

Brian Raum, a defense lawyer representing sponsors of Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage ballot measure approved by California voters in 2008, objected to the testimony and argued that individual experiences were irrelevant to the trial's constitutional questions.

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who is hearing the case without a jury, said he would allow individuals to testify then give those statements their appropriate weight in his deliberations.

Earlier in the day, a Cambridge University psychologist testified that children raised by same-sex parents are as well-adjusted and safe from abuse as kids who grow up with a mother and father.
Lamb said there was no evidence that children with gay parents were more likely to become gay themselves or become victims of sexual abuse or incest. In addition, he said no evidence exists that gays or lesbians were more likely to sexually abuse children.

Sponsors of Proposition 8 have said restricting marriage to a man and woman can be justified by the need to foster procreation and to make sure that children are raised by their biological parents.

Earlier, chief city economist Edmund Egan testified that a state ban on gay marriage is costing the city of San Francisco millions of dollars a year in lost revenue and increased services. He said married people accumulate more wealth and have more to spend on property and consumer goods, which bolsters tax revenue.

Before the trial started, the U.S. Supreme Court voted to block cameras from covering the high-profile case. Walker had authorized real-time streaming of the proceedings for viewing in other federal courthouses in California, New York, Oregon and Washington. However, a conservative 5-4 majority ruled against streaming the trial to the other courts.

Gay rights advocates condemned the ruling sought by lawyers representing proponents of gay marriage who were concerned that broadcasts would expose their trial witnesses to retaliation from gay marriage supporters.

â┚¬Å”The Supreme Court struck a huge blow against transparency and accountability,â┚¬Â said Rick Jacobs, chairman of the Courage Campaign, a Los Angeles-based gay rights organization. â┚¬Å”This historic trial will remain largely hidden from public view, despite its historic potential to challenge and change the minds of Americans.â┚¬Â

Lawyers for Proposition 8 sponsors were expected to start presenting their case late this week.

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