Court to Rule on Gay Marriage Trial Tape

9th Circuit CourthouseThe 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will announce on Thursday whether the public can view video recordings of last year’s landmark same-sex marriage trial.  The court put out a brief notice that it will issue a decision at 10 a.m. on whether the tapes may be made public.  The fight over public access to the tapes grew out of the San Francisco trial over California’s Proposition 8, which constitutionally banned gay and lesbian marriage in California. 

The appeals court is currently reviewing the constitutionality of Prop. 8.  That will NOT be decided Thursday.

The federal courts generally ban recording proceedings, but at the outset of the Prop. 8 trial former Judge Vaughn Walker embarked on an experiment to allow cameras to record the trial.  It was part of a larger court-wide experiment to allow cameras in some civil trials.  But the same-sex marriage trial occurred before the pilot project was approved.

The U.S. Supreme Court blocked even the planned limited telecast of the trial, but Walker continued to tape the session, keeping the tapes under wraps.

 Ultimately, Walker held that the voter initiative discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation and gender.  Although Walker retired in February, his successor, Chief Judge James Ware inherited the case.  In September Ware ruled the recordings should be released now that the trial is over.

 Case:  Perry v. Brown, No.  11-17255

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