A Stanford professor who said homosexuals lack political power and a gay man who said conversion therapy made him suicidal took the stand at a same-sex marriage trial in San Francisco today.
Stanford political science professor Gary Segura and Denver resident Ryan Kendall testified on behalf of two same-sex couples on the seventh day of the trial before U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker.
The couples claim in a civil rights lawsuit that California's ban on same-sex marriage, enacted by voters as Proposition 8 in 2008, violates their federal constitutional rights to due process and equal protection.
The case, which will be decided by Walker without a jury, is the nation's first federal trial on a U.S. constitutional challenge to restrictions on gay marriage.
Segura, an expert on the political power or lack of power of minority groups, told Walker that in the United States, "Gays and lesbians do not possess a meaningful degree of political power.
"They are not able to protect their basic interests and effectuate them into law. They simply don't have the numbers and resources to play a part in the political arena," Segura said.
Kendall, 26, testified that sexual orientation conversion therapy his parents forced him to undergo as a teenager made him "a 16-year-old kid who had lost everything" and caused him to feel suicidal, but didn't change his homosexuality.
"I knew I was gay. I knew I could not be changed," he said.
Both witnesses' testimony bears on the plaintiffs' claim that gay rights deserve the highest level of legal protection because homosexuals lack political power and have suffered discrimination on the basis of a characteristic--their sexual orientation - that most of them cannot change.