Proposition 8 backers have prevailed in
their appeal of a federal court order to turn over communications
related to last year's successful campaign to ban gay marriage in
California, the AP reported.
In a unanimous ruling released Friday,
the Ninth U.S. Circuit of Appeals in San Francisco reversed Chief
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's order to hand over internal
emails, memos and records associated with its strategy to ban gay
marriage in the state.
Gay marriage backers argued in Perry
v. Schwarzenegger that Proposition 8, the voter-approved measure
that repealed gay marriage in California, “was only made on the
grounds of animus towards same-sex couples.” A claim
ProtectMarriage.com has denied, saying the state's restriction of
marriage to heterosexual couples fosters procreation.
Lawyers for ProtectMarriage.com argued
that making Proposition 8 discussions between top campaign officials
public would violate the group's free speech rights and subject
supporters to harassment. The three-judge panel agreed.
“Disclosure of internal campaign
information can have a deterrent effect on the free flow of
information within campaigns,” judges wrote in their 38-page
ruling. “Implicit in the right to associate with others to advance
one's shared political beliefs is the right to exchange ideas and
formulate strategy and messages, and do so in private.”
The lawsuit was filed in May by a
lesbian couple and a gay couple who would like to marry in California
but were denied a license because of the ban. The gay couples are
being represented by the legal team of Ted Olson and David Boies,
who've argued that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution.
The case is expected to go to trial on January 11 before Judge Walker
in San Francisco.