The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear two motions pertaining to Proposition 8 this Thursday, December 8 at 2:30 pm (PST) in San Francisco, California. The hearing is expected to take two hours and will be broadcast on a delay in Pasadena, CA, Portland, OR, and Seattle, WA. The trial can also be followed via live twitter updates from the American Foundation for Equal Rights.
Hour One: Motion to release the Prop 8 trial video.
The first motion seeks to release Prop 8 trial tapes to the public. Ted Olson and David Boies of the American Foundation for Equal Rights will be arguing on the behalf of the motion, stating that the “public has a First Amendment right to see video footage of the historic Prop 8 trial.” Opposition to this motion fears that witnesses will be targeted for harassment because of their testimony if the tapes are released. AFER argues that supporters of Prop 8 oppose this motion because they “don’t want anyone to know that they failed in court.”
If this motion passes, the public and a selected media coalition will be allowed access to the Prop 8 trial video tapes. If not, the tapes will remain within the court. The losing side is likely to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Hour Two: Motion to throw out the case due to the judge’s undisclosed sexual orientation.
The second motion seeks to throw out the case because Judge Vaughn Walker did not disclose his sexual orientation at the beginning of the trial. Since Judge Walker is a gay man in a long-term relationship with another man, marriage ban supporters assert that he was unfit to issue a ruling on the Prop 8 trial and should have recused himself due to personal bias. However, AFER remains positive about the motion’s future ruling: “We are confident that the appeals court will affirm that being gay has no bearing on a judge’s impartiality, just as the courts have historically done with cases involving race, gender, and religion.”
If the three judges involved in this hearing rule in favor of this motion, the famous ruling which gave lesbian, gay, and bisexual couples marriage equality in California will be thrown out completely, and the marriage ban would stand. A ruling in favor of dismissing the case would also set an astonishing precedent, implying that a LGB judge should not preside over trials involving LGB rights. The decision could set the stage for similar motions for dismissal based on the sexual orientation or relationship status of a judge. Again, the losing side is allowed to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Future of Proposition 8
AFER anticipates a ruling before the end of the year or shortly after. The decisions made in this seemly short two hour hearing could possibly send the Prop 8 case to the U.S. Supreme Court, making California the first state to bring a proposed marriage ban to the federal appeals level.
Take Action: The fate of Proposition 8 is now in the hands of the court system. However, you can raise your voice in support of the federal bill called the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 1116/ S.598) which seeks to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act. Contact your members of congress today and encourage them to co-sponsor the bill—every person, regardless of their sexual orientation, deserves the right to express their life-long commitment to the one they love.