With Friends Like These . . .

The Proposition 8 trial just ended. This is the Federal trial that will decide whether the decision of California voters to stop homosexual marriage stands or falls. As such, it is arguably the most important court trial on marriage this country has ever seen and ultimately will reach the Supreme Court. This case could be the one that decides homosexual marriage once and for all.

You would think the attorney for the defense of traditional marriage would put forward the very best witnesses. But guess who said this under cross-examination: “Legalizing gay and lesbian marriage would benefit gay and lesbian couples as well as any children they raise.”

And who do you suppose said this: “(Domestic partnerships) could be part of a kind of humane compromise in which, on the one hand, we protect marriage and allow it to carry out its distinctive contribution to society, while at the same time extending protections and recognition to gay and lesbian couples”? This witness went on to testify that domestic partnerships, “could possibly have a weakening effect on the marital institution, but I think that it’s something we should do anyway because of other issues involved.”

Worst of all, this witness told the court that “I believe that today the principle of equal human dignity must apply to gay and lesbian persons. In that sense, insofar as we are a nation founded on this principle, we would be more, emphasize more, American on the day we permitted same-sex marriage than we were on the day before.”

Meet David Blankenhorn, president of the New York-based Institute for American Values and star defense witness in the Proposition 8 trial. Blankenhorn is one of the leading scholars in America on the question of marriage. He is the author of two influential books, “Fatherless America” and “The Future of Marriage,” as well as one of the founders of the Fatherhood Initiative.

Blankenhorn and his IAV colleagues have done yeoman’s work in developing a body of literature that shows people are better off in the married state than in any other and that children are far better off being raised by two biological parents than in any other family structure. He is close to many genuine conservative heroes such as Princeton’s Professor Robert George, marriage battler Maggie Gallagher, and many others. In short, Blankenhorn is fully credentialed to make the scholarly case in defense of traditional marriage. Except that he didn’t.

Understand that Blankenhorn delivered testimony under direct examination that was quite helpful in defending traditional marriage. Using the work of others, he showed how man/woman marriage has been the rule throughout history and is the ideal institution for begetting and raising children. Over the years though, and perhaps all along, he has developed some decidedly heterodox views on homosexuality sufficient to make one wonder if he was the best witness to call in the most important marriage trial in American history.

At one point, the razor sharp plaintiffs’ attorney David Boies quoted Blankenhorn’s own words to him: “To the degree that I must choose, with some anguish (italics added) I will choose children’s collective rights and needs. I will choose marriage as a public good over the rights and needs of gay and lesbian adults and those same-sex couples who are raising children.” Wouldn’t you think that defense counsel could have found a scholar who is not anguished at all about making this choice for traditional marriage?

This case already saw the high level defection of someone long considered a conservative hero. Plaintiffs’ co-counsel with David Boies was none other than Ted Olsen, who served in the Office of Legal Counsel under Ronald Reagan and was Solicitor General under George W. Bush. He is so highly thought of in conservative legal circles that each year he delivers the state of the Supreme Court presentation to the annual Federalist Society conference. The Giuliani camp once trotted him out to assure social conservatives that, even though Rudy was not with us on the life issues, at least we had Ted Olsen. That cut exactly no ice with most social conservatives. And guess what? Not only is he not a social conservative; one wonders how he keeps his Federalist Society membership after this. After all, what he and Boise are arguing for in this Prop 8 suit is nothing short of a Roe v. Wade-like judicial usurpation and imposition of homosexual marriage on an unwilling populace.

The plaintiffs’ case was weak. It hinged largely on testimony that supporters of Proposition 8 were mean and motivated by animus toward homosexuals – themselves guilty of that odious, all-purpose, pseudo-scientific offense: homophobia. The judge very clearly sided with the plaintiffs; in fact, news reports suggest  that he himself is a homosexual. This is the guy who tried to get the case shown on TV, all the better to scare defense witnesses. It is unlikely anything could have persuaded him to favor the defense.

Inevitably, this case will find its way to the Supreme Court, where sits Justice Anthony Kennedy who believes each of us gets to define the universe, and that homosexual sodomy is a constitutional right. Heaven help us. A Catholic, he was once supposed to be a social conservative, too.

Austin Ruse is the President of the New York and Washington, D.C.-based Center for Family & Human Rights (C-Fam), a research institute that focuses exclusively on international social policy. The opinions expressed here are Mr. Ruse’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of C-Fam.