Gay Marriage Trial Camera Issue

Monday, May 24, 2010  |  Updated 4:15 PM PDT
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Gay Marriage Trial Camera Issue

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WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 1: A rainbow-colored wedding cake is topped with male and female same-sex couple figurines at a symbolic mass gay wedding celebrated by more than 100 same-sex couples on June 1, 2004 in West Hollywood, California. The ceremony kicks off National Gay Pride Month. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

The sponsors of California's ban on same-sex marriage asked a  federal judge in San Francisco today to refuse to allow a broadcast of  closing arguments on whether the measure is constitutional.

      The closing arguments in a lawsuit challenging the voter-approved  Proposition 8 are tentatively scheduled for June 16 in the court of U.S.  District Judge Vaughn Walker.
     
Charles Cooper, a lawyer for the Proposition 8 sponsors, argued in  a letter to Walker that a U.S. Supreme Court order blocking televising of the  testimony portion of the trial in January should also apply to the closing  arguments.
     
Cooper wrote that possible negative effects of broadcasting on  judges and lawyers include "distraction, grandstanding and avoidance of  unpopular decisions or positions."
     
The letter asks that a request by 12 media organizations to  broadcast the arguments should be "promptly rejected."
     
Cooper noted that the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision in January said  the high-profile case was not well-suited for a pilot broadcast project.
     
A broadcast of the arguments, if allowed, would be the first in  nine western states under a pilot program approved by the Judicial Council of  the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in December.
     
While cameras are allowed in the courtroom in California's state  court system, they have not been previously permitted in western federal  courts.
     
The 12 media groups say that broadcasting would be in the public  interest.
     
Their attorney, Thomas Burke, said today, "This is an important  historic opportunity to let the public see firsthand the arguments pro and  con that have been central to this case."
     
Burke said he believes the Supreme Court majority's concerns about  inadequate public comment on the broadcast plan and televising of witnesses  have been allayed, because the district court allowed for further public  comment and there will be no live testimony during the arguments.
     
Walker will decide the Proposition 8 case without a jury and his  ruling is expected to be appealed.
     
Proposition 8 was approved by California voters in 2008. Two  same-sex couples claim in the case before Walker that it violates their  federal constitutional right to equal treatment.
 

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