A federal judge in San Francisco will
hear closing arguments Wednesday in the first federal trial to
consider the constitutionality of a gay marriage ban.
Saying he wanted to review the evidence
before listening to closing arguments, Chief U.S. District Judge
Vaughn Walker cleared out his courtroom in January after hearing
two-and-a-half weeks' worth of testimony without issuing a ruling.
Walker is expected to rule on whether
California's gay marriage ban, Proposition 8, approved by voters in
November of 2008, violates the U.S. Constitution.
On Wednesday, lawyers will summarize
their arguments and answer remaining questions issued by Walker.
The legal team of Ted Olson and David
Boies are representing a gay couple and a lesbian couple who have
been denied the right to marry because of Proposition 8.
Olson – President George W. Bush's
solicitor general – drew heavy criticism from social conservatives
for taking up the cause of gay marriage. Gay rights advocates
initially feared working with the 69-year-old conservative, saying he
was sabotaging the issue by prematurely taking it to the federal
level and ultimately the Supreme Court, which gay activists say
remains too conservative to rule in their favor.
But on the eve of final arguments,
Olson was sounding confident, telling a group of gay law students
over the weekend that “civil rights are not won by people saying,
'Wait until the right time.'”
During the trial, lawyers opposed to
Proposition 8 argued that proponents had approved the measure out of
animus towards gay men and lesbians, stripping such couples of their
ProtectMarriage.com, the primary
sponsor of Proposition 8, is defending the measure. They argued that
voters approved the measure because they believe allowing gay men and
lesbians to marry would hurt children, an argument advanced during
the campaign to approve the amendment.
On Friday, Walker denied a motion to
strike from evidence emails from religious groups involved in the Yes
on 8 campaign, primarily members of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) and the Roman Catholic church.
Mormon officials continue to deny they directly supported passage of
Walker could decide to overturn the gay
marriage ban and allow gay couples to begin marrying in California
immediately. But such a ruling would likely be quickly appealed to
the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In fact, both parties have
suggested the trial is the opening act in a road show headed to the