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Reversing course: Prop 8 star witness against gay weddings now supports marriage equality

WASHINGTON – In a stunning reversal, the star witness against same-sex marriage at the Proposition 8 trial in California has come out in support of gay weddings.

David Blankenhorn, founder and president of the Institute for American Values and author of "The Future Of Marriage," said today in The New York Times that he now supports the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, calling it “a victory for basic fairness.”

Here is how Blankenhorn started his op-ed piece in the NYT:

IN my 2007 book, “The Future of Marriage,” and in my 2010 court testimony concerning Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that defined marriage as between a man and a woman, I took a stand against gay marriage. But as a marriage advocate, the time has come for me to accept gay marriage and emphasize the good that it can do. I’d like to explain why.

At the Prop 8 trial, Perry v. Brown, Blankenhorn testified that he opposed marriage for same-sex couples and was one of only a couple of witnesses to testify in favor of Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that took away marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples in California.

A federal judge and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have agreed that Prop 8 law is unconstitutional, and the U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to take up the case. The nation's high court will review the case in October and decide whether to uphold the ruling or take up the case in the spring of 2013.

Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry, commented on Blankenhorn's change of heart.

“David Blankenhorn’s announcement today reflects the shift towards understanding among the majority of people when they hear the stories and see for themselves why marriage matters to same-sex couples," Wolfson said.

"As the leader of a right-of-center think tank and network that promotes conservative values, David knows that children grow up best when they are raised in families that are treated with fairness, respect, and dignity. His journey towards marriage has been a long time in the making and he is a welcome addition to the majority of Americans who support the freedom to marry.”

Freedom to Marriage wrote:

Blankenhorn’s 2007 book, "The Future Of Marriage," discusses the importance of strengthening the institution of marriage and includes accounts of conversations with Wolfson. “We would be more American on the day we permitted same-sex marriage than we were on the day before,” Blankenhorn wrote.

Adam Umhoefer, executive director of the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), which sued to overturn Prop 8, applauded Blankenhorn today.

“Like David Blankenhorn, growing numbers of people across the nation are realizing that marriage equality will make us more American. Marriage equality has always been about building strong families and ensuring that loving couples and their families not be denied the fundamental freedom to marry. We are happy to consider Mr. Blankenhorn a supporter in that endeavor and applaud his commitment to equality,” Umhoefer said.

AFER wrote:

In January 2010, Blankenhorn was one of two witnesses for the proponents of Proposition 8 during the historic Federal District Court trial of Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Perry v. Brown). He testified under oath that “we would be more American on the day we permitted same-sex marriage than we were on the day before.” The District Court found Proposition 8 unconstitutional in August 2010. That ruling was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in February 2012.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, also welcomed Blankenhorn into the fold.

“David Blankenhorn’s evolution on marriage equality is emblematic of the paradigm shift we are experiencing as a country on this issue. Loving gay and lesbian couples should not be denied the ability to make the same lifelong commitment as everyone else and Blankenhorn’s agreement with that proposition puts him in the mainstream of American opinion," Griffin said.

“What David Blankenhorn has shown the world is that through careful deliberation and a deepening understanding of LGBT people, one can only draw the conclusion that the answer is full equality. While it can be difficult as a public figure to change course, I applaud him for taking a courageous and principled stand. His experience wrestling with the issue of marriage equality and coming out on the right side of history will be an inspiration to millions of fair-minded Americans who are in the same place.”