Witness in marriage trial says gays face job bias - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Witness in marriage trial says gays face job bias

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San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, left, hugs his daughter Lisa as her wife Meaghan Yaple, right, watches after a news conference in San Francisco, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, left, hugs his daughter Lisa as her wife Meaghan Yaple, right, watches after a news conference in San Francisco, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A political scientist testified Tuesday in a trial challenging California's ban on same-sex marriage that gays and lesbians face significant discrimination in the workplace.

Claremont McKenna College Professor Kenneth Miller said under cross-examination that he did not know how frequently gay Americans are fired or harassed at work but assumed it happens often.

Miller was called as a defense witness in the trial, the first in a federal court to examine whether decisions by states denying gays the right to wed violate their constitutional rights.

On Monday, Miller testified that the gay rights movement enjoys substantial political power in California that helps shield them from bias.

Lawyers for two same-sex couples suing to overturn the voter-approved ban known as Proposition 8 are trying to prove that deep-seated prejudice motivated the measure.

Plaintiffs' attorney David Boies asked Miller, "You do agree there are some gays and lesbians who are fired from their jobs, refused jobs and paid less because of their sexual orientation?"

"I have no reason to disagree with that. I expect that's the case," Miller replied.

Boies also introduced some of Miller's writings that criticized California's initiative process, saying it had historically been used to target unpopular minorities. The lawyer asserted churches opposed to same-sex marriage and voters' religious views played a big role in the passage of Proposition 8.

"You are saying the general principle that a religious majority should not be able to use law to impose their views on others is a generally accepted principle in political science?" Boies asked, citing Miller's work.

Miller replied, "There might be exceptions, but that is a generally accepted principle."

His voice occasionally rising, Boies also prodded Miller to explain why voters in a state known for being gay-friendly overwhelming supported Barack Obama yet denied gays the right to wed.

"I believe religiosity is a critical factor, among other things," Miller said. "I didn't list any other that were critical, but I haven't done any other investigation whether those factors were critical."

Miller acknowledged that about half of the research materials he used in preparing his testimony was supplied by defense attorneys.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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