Prop 8 Videos to Remain Sealed

The court was asked to decide whether video recordings of the 2010 Prop 8 trial should be made public

Thursday, Feb 2, 2012  |  Updated 1:39 PM PDT
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A federal appeals court ruled in San Francisco that a video recording of a 2010 trial on the constitutionality of Proposition 8 must  remain sealed.

The three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said  it was bound by a promise made by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco during that trial that the video would not be broadcast.   

Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote, "The trial judge on several  occasions unequivocally promised that the recording of the trial would be  used only in chambers and not publicly broadcast."   

The 2010 trial was the first in federal court to examine whether prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying violates their constitutional rights. The recordings are not expected to reveal new evidence or testimony because the case received significant media coverage.

Media organizations and lawyers for the two couples who successfully sued to overturn Proposition 8 in Judge Vaughn Walker's court petitioned to have the recordings made public. Walker's successor as the chief U.S. district judge in Northern California, James Ware, agreed in September and planned to unseal the videos, but the 9th Circuit halted the process when Proposition 8 supporters appealed Ware's decision.

Same-sex marriage rights advocates have indicated they wanted to use the recordings to address political arguments used by opponents of same-sex marriage.

The announcement came a day after the Washington Senate passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. A final vote is expected is expected in the House.

Opponents have until June 6 to turn in petition signatures. The measure's passage would make Washington the seventh state to recognize same-sex marriage.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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