The influence of homosexuals in US politics is significant and growing, an expert testified, as opponents of same-sex marriage opened their case in a federal trial challenging California's gay marriage ban.
Kenneth Miller, a professor at Claremont McKenna College, described gays and lesbians as riding an "upward trajectory of power" in the United States, as the landmark trial entered its third week.
Advertisement"I believe that gays and lesbians do have power at the national level," Miller said adding the group enjoyed political power in California as well.
Same-sex marriage supporters are seeking to overturn a California law known as Proposition 8, which limits marriage to unions between men and women.
Supporters of the ban are attempting to argue that their political influence proves gays and lesbians are not a minority which is proportionally under-represented in the political process.
Last week, Gary M. Segura, a professor of American politics at Stanford University, testified that gays and lesbians are politically vulnerable.
"Gays and lesbians do not possess a meaningful degree of political power," he said. "They are not able to protect their basic interests and effectuate their interests into law and to secure those."
Miller said Monday however, for his part, told the court that: "The public has demonstrated increasing support for the political objectives of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) persons and that can be measured in a number of different ways."
Thirty states have adopted hate-crimes legislation, Miller said, and 21 have adopted protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
President Barack Obama, he said, "has given significant support to the LGBT rights movement."
On cross examination, plaintiffs' attorney, David Boies pointed out that no openly gay candidates have been elected to statewide office in California.