Prop. 8 backer stands by views on pedophilia - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Prop. 8 backer stands by views on pedophilia

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Hak-Shing William Tam Hak-Shing William Tam
Andrew Pugno, lead counsel for, speaks at news conference in San Francisco, Calif., Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010. Andrew Pugno, lead counsel for, speaks at news conference in San Francisco, Calif., Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A proponent of California's same-sex marriage ban testified Thursday that he thinks gays are more likely to be pedophiles and that allowing them to wed would lead to efforts to lower the age at which teenagers can legally have sex with adults.

Lawyers for two couples suing to overturn the ban, known as Proposition 8, called Hak-Shing William Tam of San Francisco to testify as a hostile witness to prove that bias toward gays fueled the campaign to pass the measure.

Proposition 8 sponsors have tried to distance themselves from Tam, even though his name appeared alongside ballot arguments for the measure in voter information pamphlets during the 2008 campaign.

In federal court, attorney David Boies spent time walking Tam through a Web site for a Chinese-American evangelical Christian group that featured a headline reading "Studies Show That Homosexuality Is Linked to Pedophilia."

Tam serves as secretary of the group, known as the American Return to God Prayer Movement.

The Web site also contained a link to another article claiming gays were 12 times more likely to molest children.

"So you supported this Web site making these kind of statements?" Boies asked.

"Uh, yes," Tam said.

"Do you believe that homosexuals are 12 times more likely to molest children?" the lawyer continued.

"Yeah, based on the different literature that I have read," Tam replied.

Boies pressed Tam to cite books, articles or authors he had read to substantiate the views, but Tam said he could not remember specifics.

During a news conference outside court, lawyer Andy Pugno, who represents Proposition 8 backers, said Tam had "next to nothing" to do with the campaign, even though he was one of the measure's official proponents.

Tam said he spent a lot of time working on the campaign and frequently communicated with its leaders but modestly added he did not consider himself a major player.

Tam explained that he got involved in early efforts to promote the gay marriage ban in 2007, gathering signatures to qualify it for the ballot. He became an official proponent because of his concern that legalizing same-sex marriage would encourage young people to pursue gay partners, he said.

"I think it's very important for the next generation to understand the historical meaning of marriage," he said. "I think it is very important that children won't grow up to fantasize or think about should I marry Jane or John when I grow up, because this is very important for Asian families."

Under questioning by Boies, Tam also said he agreed with a statement on the Web site for the Chinese-American Christian group that said if same-sex marriage was treated as a civil right, "so would pedophilia, polygamy and incest."

"And that is what you were telling people in encouraging them to vote for Proposition 8?" Boies asked.

"Yes," Tam answered.

Earlier in the day, lawyers defending the ban said gay rights advocates lost public support during the election when they used economic boycotts, vandalism and alleged death threats against backers of California's same-sex marriage ban.

David Thompson, who is representing Proposition 8 sponsors, presented news coverage of the tactics to counter an assertion by a political scientist that gays are a politically unpopular group facing intense opposition from powerful religious groups and ongoing threats of violence themselves.

The point is central to the contention that state bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional because they single out a disadvantaged group.

"When people read about this on the Internet, would (it) have the potential to diminish political support?" Thompson asked Stanford University professor Gary M. Segura about the tactics of gays. "Politically, it's kryptonite, is that correct?"

Segura answered that he considered boycotts an acceptable political tool, but that "organized violence or even broad disorderly behavior certainly has a negative impact."

He said such behavior could be "a cry for help or expression of frustration or maybe the ultimate expression of powerlessness."


Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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