William Tam: He’s like that Cute Ignorant Uncle That Everybody Cringes At

This is cross-posted from the Prop 8 Trial Tracker, where we are following the Prop 8 trial going on in federal court in San Francisco.

I dropped in to the overflow courtroom to join Rick for a while today. I just couldn’t stay away from the testimony of William Tam.  For those of you not able to make it into the courtroom, I think that the William Tam testimony just might be the highlight of the Prop 8 Trial Renactment Series.

While I was watching Tam squirm in the witness, I was brought back to my youth. I had that uncle that everybody seems to have. The one who would make inappropriate jokes, or say things that just made jaws drop. But with Tam, it wasn’t so much that he was gruff, or trying to be a jokester, just that he simply held some deeply disturbing views.  I expected at any moment for him to just stand up and say “just kidding! Got you big-time, you don’t think I actually believe that garbage, do you? Ha-ha!”

Suffice it to say he never said that. But what he did play was the sympathy card.  More than once, he tried to go for the “aw-shucks, you city lawyers are just too smart for me” card. At the beginning of this liveblog post, Rick points out that Tam said “that Boies is using his legal expertise to pin my words in way I did not intend.” But, from just the plain language, it is hard to argue that what Tam said was anything but some of the most salacious and offbase anti-gay propaganda that I’ve seen outside of the Klan or other similar hate groups.

And Boies just shreds whatever logic or reasonable basis that Tam had for his statements:

Boies: You said that you thought Prop. 8 would lead to legalizing prostitution. Why?

Tam: Measure K in SF. I saw some homosexuals hanging around there.

B: You know that Measure K has nothing to do with Prop. 8.

T: Yes.

So, his first argument was that he saw some homosexuals hanging around San Francisco’s Prop K, a poorly drafted attempt to decriminalize prostitution. Not that all people who opposed Prop 8 supported Prop K, or vice versa. Just that he saw some homosexuals hanging around it.  Well, as somebody intricately involved in San Francisco politics, I can assure you that many in the LGBT community opposed Prop K, including elected leaders and much of the community.  Prop K had nothing, whatsoever, to do with the LGBT community or Prop 8, and Tam acknowledges that. By the way, Prop K lost by a wide margin, even in a city that Tam said was “controlled by homosexuals.”

But that line in the gay agenda that Tam thrusts upon the community pales in comparison to the offensive claim that tops off Tam’s flyer.

B:  You told people that next will be legalizing sex with children. That’s the homosexual agenda. Do you believe this?

T: Yes.

T: Asks and B gives permission to talk. “I’m afraid of the liberal trend. Canada and Europe are liberal and they allow age of consent 13 or 14 and children can have sex with adults and each other.”)

B:  You did not mention age of consent in the fourteen words you wrote?

T:  No.

B: Age of consent has nothing to do with this [But Tam admitted that he told people that’s what would happen if 8 lost.] Age of consent did not change because of passage of ss marriage in Canada or Europe, right?

T: Canada right. I cannot say about Europe.

But this is more than merely patently offensive, it is just plain factually incorrect. And it takes just a few moments of Googling (or binging, whichever you prefer) to figure that one out. Same-sex marriage became the law of the land in Canada in 2005. At the time, the age of consent in Canada was, in fact, 14 years. However, in 2008, while same-sex marriage was legal in Canada, the age of consent was raised to 16.  By Tam’s logic, he should be arguing that it is clear that the gay agenda includes an item of increasing the age of consent.

But, of course, the problem with Tam is his rejection of logic. He uses innuendo and vague emotional statements about the welfare of children, and then depends on the website of NARTH, an ex-gay group condemned by mainstream mental health professionals, over accredited, peer-reviewed scientific studies from real professionals. This has nothing to do with what is going on in the real world, but what is going on in a few small minds.