A federal judge on Monday ordered the
release of video of last year's trial that resulted in declaring
Proposition 8, California's gay marriage ban, unconstitutional, the
“No compelling reasons exist for
continued sealing of the digital recording of the trial,” U.S.
District Court Judge James Ware wrote in his decision.
Ware stayed his own ruling until
September 30 to allow for an expected appeal.
Proponents of Proposition 8 turned to
Ware after 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
February in Arizona. They asked the court to stop Walker from
showing the video again. Opponents volleyed back with a request to
make the recordings available for broadcast.
At issue was whether release of the
recording 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 during a hearing.
But Ware disagreed, saying the court's
order didn't amount to a requirement to seal the tapes.
“The Court finds that the record does
not support the contention that Judge Walker limited the digital
recording to chambers use only,” Ware wrote. “Judge Walker,
without objection, made copies of the digital recording available to
the parties for use during closing arguments.”
The ruling arrives on the day 8
premieres on Broadway. The Dustin Lance Black play is based on
trial transcripts and interviews. Black said he wrote the play in
part because the video was not available for public viewing.