A federal judge on Monday hinted that
he agrees with opponents of California's gay marriage ban,
Proposition 8, who want video of last year's trial on the
constitutionality of the measure made public.
For roughly 2 hours, Chief U.S.
District Judge James Ware considered arguments in the legal skirmish,
which was sparked in February when U.S. District Judge Vaughn R.
Walker, now retired, used a clip from the 2010 trial he presided over
during a speech he gave in Arizona.
Prop 8 proponents asked the court to
stop Walker from showing the video again. Opponents volleyed back
with a request to make the recordings public for broadcast.
At issue was whether release of the
videotapes would put defense witnesses at risk of harassment from
opponents of the constitutional amendment which overruled a 2008
California Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage in the
David Thompson, a lawyer for Protect
Marriage, the coalition of mostly religious groups that sponsored
Proposition 8, told Ware that his concern was with the video “being
He added that the Supreme Court had
blocked Walker's plan to broadcast the trial. Walker kept the
cameras rolling but sealed the videos.
“We were entitled to rely on those
unqualified assurances, and we did,” Thompson said.
“The proponents have been utterly
unable to explain why the public should be barred from seeing and
hearing for themselves what happened in a public trial potentially
affecting the rights of millions of Americans,” said Theodore J.
Boutrous, an attorney for the two gay couples challenging the
measure. “The real reason that the proponents are fighting public
release is that they do not want the world to see the powerful
evidence we submitted showing that Proposition 8 flatly violates the
Constitution and the extraordinarily weak case that they put on
trying to defend this discriminatory law.”
At times, Judge Ware appeared to side
with Boutrous, saying that the record “should be open unless there
are compelling reasons not to.”
But he later added: “It does seem to
me that it is part of the record and I am bothered by the question of
what to do with something that is made a part of the record by the
Ware said he would issue his ruling