A federal three-judge panel has
rejected an appeal by gay rights groups that sought to overturn a
federal judge's order forcing them to surrender documents related to
Proposition 8, the gay marriage ban narrowly approved by California
voters in 2008, Courthouse News Service reported.
Chief US District Judge Vaughn Walker's
ruling required pro-gay marriage groups to hand over Proposition 8
campaign materials to defendants in the high-profile trial
considering the ban's constitutionality.
Equality California, No on Proposition
8 and the Campaign for Marriage Equality appealed the ruling, but the
9th Circuit said it lacks jurisdiction in the case. The
judges said the groups cannot appeal the ruling until they have been
held in contempt for failing to comply with it.
In filing its appeal, the groups argued
that the documents are confidential internal communications protected
by the First Amendment as political speech.
Judge Walker is presiding over the
first federal trial to consider the constitutionality of a gay
marriage ban. During the January trial, plaintiffs argued that
Proposition 8 violates their constitutional rights.
Walker cleared the courtroom after
hearing two and a half weeks worth of testimony without issuing a
ruling or scheduling closing arguments.
The appeal further delayed the trial's
close. The ruling opens up the possibility that closing arguments
are closer at hand.
No matter how Walker rules, the
decision is widely expected to be appealed all the way to the Supreme
Court, whose ruling could affect gay marriage bans throughout the