The first federal case to challenge the constitutionality of a gay marriage ban will be streamed over the Internet, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled Wednesday.

Supporters of Proposition 8, the voter-approved measure that placed a gay marriage ban in the California Constitution and trumped a state Supreme Court ruling that granted gay couples the right to marry, have protested the idea, saying it posed a potential threat to trial participants. reported that Walker will allow the trial – which begins January 11 – to be broadcast over YouTube, the video-sharing site owned by Google Inc.

“This is a case which merits a very serious consideration for widespread distribution,” Walker said during Wednesday's hearing.

Walker is acting after a pilot program that would for the first time allow cameras in civil trials was approved by the governing body for federal courts in Western states.

Kristin Perry v Arnold Schwarzenegger is the first such case to be heard in a federal courtroom, but three more are wending their way through the system, including a suit brought by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who is campaigning for the Senate seat vacated by the late Senator Ted Kennedy.