The legal battle for same-sex marriage in California continues! A lawsuit brought in federal court, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, challenges the Constitutionality of Proposition 8. It’s gotten a lot of press, with heated debate and some pre-trial grilling of attorneys, in the months since it’s filing in May of 2009.
And the trial is now set to begin next Monday, January 11, 2009. And it looks like we may have the opportunity to watch the trial online.
Supporters of Prop 8 (those who want to prevent any more same-sex marriages in California) have argued against allowing cameras in the courtroom, claiming it would make the trial into a “circus” and arguing that witnesses might be intimidated.
Opponents of Prop 8, who want the lawsuit to succeed and ultimately result in same-sex marriage being legal, believe that Prop 8 supporters are basing their defense against the lawsuit on bigoted and anti-gay biases, and are afraid to be seen on television making their case.
Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, presiding over the case, asked for public opinion on whether or not to televise the trial. Boy, did he get it! Some pro-gay groups went to work, and collected tens of thousands of electronic signatures in support of televising the trial. I’ve read several accounts quoting more than 50,000 signatures in the first twelve hours, and a couple of others quoting more than 70,000 in the first twenty-four hours. Either way, that’s a whole lot of public opinion.
In the end, Judge Walker struck an unusual compromise: instead of allowing live television cameras, he is permitting the trial to be videotaped and broadcast over the Internet. “This certainly is a case that has sparked widespread interest. … I think a trial can be highly informative,” he said during a hearing.
News reports say that the delay will be at least a couple of hours, and that Judge Walker has asserted that he’ll reserve the right to stop the video at any time. Still, this is a meaningful development, as it will be the first time a federal trial in the 9th Circuit (made up of the Western nine states) is videotaped and made available to the public.
I, for one, firmly believe that it’s about time people who have anti-gay convictions are forced to put up or shut up. If you believe that same-sex marriage should not be legal, so much so that you’re willing to take away someone else’s opportunity to marry the partner of their choice because of YOUR religious/political/societal views, than you should believe it strongly enough to say so in front of a camera.
If you’re not that zealous in your beliefs, not that solidly convinced that you’re in the moral right, and not that righteous in your convictions, then who are you to force your beliefs onto the law?