Homophobic Testimony

The Supreme Court’s decision not to allow the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial to be broadcast online was disappointing, but it’s not stopping the media from sharing details from time to time. Last Friday, one of the more entertaining developments was noted and published.

One of the official proponents of Proposition 8, a man named Hak-Shing William Tam, took the stand on Thursday and both horrified and entertained me.

Mr. Tam serves as secretary for a Chinese-American Christian group with some pretty explicit views on homosexuality. Those views became the focus of his testimony last week, and caused quite a stir.

Plaintiffs’ attorney David Boies asked Mr. Tam, “Do you believe that homosexuals are 12 times more likely to molest children?” Tam’s response was, “Yeah, based on the different literature that I have read.”

When pressed for details, for books, articles or authors of research that informed Mr. Tam’s views, he couldn’t name any. (On the other hand, a Cambridge University professor testified earlier in the trial that there is no evidence to suggest that gays are more likely to molest children than heterosexuals.)

Tam also testified that he believed that if same-sex marriage were treated as a civil right, “so would pedophilia, polygamy and incest,” and that he came to these conclusions based on an Internet article professing that incest and polygamy became legal in the Netherlands after same-sex marriage was legalized in 2001. (Nevermind that this is patently untrue — these aren’t legal in the Netherlands, it’s just an urban legend that sprung up a couple of years ago.)

Of course, how much he was involved in the actual running of the Proposition 8 campaign is up for debate. The defendants in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger case are quick to distance themselves from Mr. Tam, particularly now that he’s vocally expressed the kind of homophobic ignorance that same-sex marriage opponents try to downplay.

Asked about a conversation he had with his lawyer during a brief break in testimony, Tam replied, “I said I felt like naughty boy being put in front of a classroom and being mocked at.” If having your beliefs spoken out loud and shared with the public embarrasses you, Mr. Tam, perhaps you should consider your views a little more carefully.

But the bottom line is this: the nonsense that Mr. Tam has been spouting off about homosexuality is exactly the sort of deep-seated bias against gays that drives prejudice in our community, and it’s about time that it was said out loud.

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