By Jami Laubich, Communications Intern
Jan. 11 marked the first day of the federal trial challenging California’s Proposition 8. Voted into law in 2008, Prop 8 made same-sex marriage illegal in the state of California. The California State Supreme Court upheld the ban in May of 2009. Just one day after that ruling, in a determined attempt to gain the right to marry, two same-sex couples filed suit in federal court on the basis that the amendment violates their constitutional rights. The trial opened with personal testimony from the case’s four plaintiffs: Kristin Perry, Sandra Stier, Jeff Zarillo and Paul Katami.
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker is presiding over the jury-less case, and in an effort to embrace both courtroom transparency and 21st century technology, he decided to make video of the proceeding available on YouTube. Attorneys defending Prop 8 appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, stating a concern for the safety of witnesses testifying in support of banning same-sex marriage. The high court put a temporary ban on any broadcasting of the trial while the justices reviewed the issue more closely.
It should be noted that the identities of witnesses could be hidden with the correct provisions. According to Metro Weekly, Judge Walker announced to the court on Monday that his office had received 138,574 messages about posting the court proceedings on YouTube, and that only 32 of those comments were against taping the trial.
Of the nine justices on the Supreme Court, only Justice Stephen Breyer voted against the YouTube ban, which will be in place until Jan. 13 at 4 pm when the court will issue a final decision. The first amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the public the right to know about what happens in the courtroom, so let’s hope that the Prop 8 court trial will be available to view on YouTube in the immediate future.