A high-profile trial challenging the constitutionality of California's recently passed Proposition 8 turned yesterday to evidence involving religion, presumably asking if the ban on gay marriage is an improperly religious law; and, how involved were religious institutions in the campaign for the ballot initiative? The LATimes reports:
Attorneys challenging Proposition 8… presented videotaped testimony from two experts on religion who had been retained by the measure's defenders. The experts have since withdrawn from the case.
The experts agreed under questioning that some churches have contributed to discrimination against gays and that religion also has been used to justify discrimination against African Americans and women.
David Boies, a lawyer for the challengers who questioned the experts, ended the video presentation with a question about whether some state laws were based on religion.
"No," said Katherine Young, a religious studies professor at McGill University, "because you have the doctrine of separation of church and state."
They also introduced evidence of the role of the Mormon and Catholic churches in organizing against for the ballot proposal. There's nothing wrong – by the Constitution or the tax code – with churches and religious organizations advocating in ballot initiatives (so long as a substantial part of resources aren't used just for that kind of advocacy). So, I'm not entirely sure where they are going with the investigation of church coordination and funding, unless it's in some tangential support of the argument that such a ban has a primarily religious purpose. (The complaint (pdf) in this case – so far as I can tell – refers only to Due Process and Equal Protection arguments.) Attorneys supporting the ballot referendum expressed shock that the court allowed internal church documents to be admitted into evidence.