By James Tillman
August 17, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In the wake of Judge Vaughn Walker’s controversial decision finding Proposition 8 (California’s constitutional amendment protecting true marriage) unconstitutional, an internal spat has broken out between two different Christian legal societies about the manner in which the defense of Prop. 8 was handled.
Both the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) and Liberty Counsel (LC) are dedicated to promoting religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and family values. Thus, when California Attorney General Jerry Brown decided not to defend California’s ban on homosexual “marriage,” both groups sought to intervene.
But according to Liberty Counsel, the ADF kept them out of the Proposition 8 trial because they disagreed over legal strategy - a disagreement that LC says resulted in a radically weakened argument that ignored the central reasons to oppose homosexual "marriage."
At the time, the ADF's Andrew Pugno said that Liberty Counsel should not defend the proposition. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Pugno has said that the Campaign for California Families (CCF), Liberty Counsel's client, "represents the extreme fringe and is not representative of the coalition that got [Proposition 8] passed."
"The proponents believed that intervention by that group would harm, not help, our case," Pugno told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN).
Pugno also said that the CCF had opposed "efforts to qualify Proposition 8 for the ballot, and actively campaigned against it." According to an ADF-supported brief opposing the CCF’s entry as a proponent, the “CCF maintained its antagonism to Proposition 8 for many years; it was not until quite some time after the Proposition 8 campaign began, and just a short period of time before the November 2008 election, that CCF first indicated any support for that measure.”
The ADF successfully prevented the Liberty Council and CCF from intervening.
But Matthew Staver, chairman of the LC, denies that that the CCF had worked against Proposition 8, and told LSN that there were two reasons the ADF opposed LC's intervention.
"First was a misplaced idea of competition or domination of the case," he said. "And second, a desire to narrow the defense so as not to focus or even address the consequences of homosexuality and homosexual marriage."
"We wanted to include that as part of our defense," he continued.
According to Staver, the ADF "basically gave away the essence of the case, because they wanted to shy away from homosexuality and really were not willing to take the issue directly head on."
The ADF wished to stipulate, he said, that counseling some homosexuals to change could be harmful, that homosexual partners form long and lasting relationships, and that homosexuality does not impair any area of life. Liberty Counsel was not willing to do so.
Regardless of the reason that the ADF opposed Liberty Counsel’s entrance, the attitude that the ADF wished to project towards the court was reflected in the witnesses they planned on calling: at least three seemed to think that homosexuality, in itself, was perfectly fine.
Katherine Young and Paul Nathanson had been slated to testify before the court for the proponents of Proposition 8, but they were both withdrawn before they did so. Advocates of same-sex “marriage,” however, used Young’s and Nathanson’s videotaped depositions to help bolster their own arguments.
In Nathanson's deposition he stated that homosexuals can be good parents, while Young said in his videotaped testimony that homosexuality is a normal variant of human sexuality and that homosexuals have the same potential and desire as heterosexual couples to raise children.
In 2003, Katherine Young and Paul Nathanson wrote that although legalizing "same sex marriage is a bad idea" they only opposed "gay marriage, not gay relationships."
"There's nothing wrong with homosexuality," they stated. "One of us, in fact, is gay."
One of the two witnesses that proponents of Proposition 8 did not withdraw, David Blankenhorn, founder of the Institute for American Values, had previously written that the U.S. would be "more American on the day we permit same-sex marriage than we were on the day before."
He has since defended himself against charges of anti-homosexual bigotry in the courtroom by pointing out that he "told the court that [he] believe[s] in the equal dignity of homosexual love."
The ADF, however, says that the openly homosexual Judge Walker, whom conservative pundits have accused of bias, ignored perfectly good evidence that was presented in the courtroom. "The court flat-out ignored extensive written evidence and testimony presented during cross-examination of plaintiffs’ witnesses," the ADF's Jim Campbell told LSN.
For instance, under cross-examination, UCLA social psychology professor Dr. Letitia Peppeau, an expert witness for the plaintiffs, admitted that sexual exclusivity among gay men is the exception rather than the rule. The Proposition 8 ruling nevertheless included in its 48th “finding of fact” that the statement that “same-sex couples are identical to opposite-sex couples in the characteristics relevant to the ability to form successful marital unions.”
"It’s obvious that no number of witnesses for the defense would have changed the result," said Campbell.
Matthew Staver nevertheless says he thinks that far better witnesses could have been selected.
"We would have called a number of witnesses who have high credentials in the area of homosexuality and homosexual behavior, marriage, and reparative therapy," he said.
He said that he had spoken to a number of well-known experts on homosexuality whom the ADF did not decide to contact. "None of them had even been called," he said. "They were shocked; we were shocked."
Staver believes that addressing the negative aspects of homosexuality is "a very critical component to the case, as to why same-sex marriage would ultimately harm marriage."
The ADF nevertheless "completely refused to put on that kind of testimony," he said.