The attorneys who prevailed in last year’s trial overturning California’s ban on same-sex marriage want the trial video made public, saying Monday that it might swing public opinion.
U.S. District Court Chief Judge James Ware heard arguments from both sides in San Francisco yesterday and promised to issue a ruling soon.
Theodore Boutrous, attorney for the two same-sex couples in the case, said after the hearing that Proposition 8 proponents worry that their supporters could have a change of heart after viewing the footage.
“Once they hear the arguments of our side … about how Prop. 8 is discriminatory, how it serves no purpose, how it hurts children, how it hurts families … it can change people’s minds, it changes their perspectives,” Boutrous said.
Proposition 8 proponents said trial Judge Vaughn Walker — whose August ruling that the measure was unconstitutional is under appeal — had said the trial videotape would be used only for his review in chambers during the trial. They argued that its public release could put witnesses in the trial at risk of harassment, intimidation or violence, and dissuade future witnesses from testifying against same-sex marriage.
The witnesses who testified in the case are known publicly and the court transcript is already available, but ProtectMarriage.com general counsel Andrew Pugno said following the hearing that there’s a difference with people watching the video.
“It just evokes different emotions than reading a document,” he said.
Boutrous called the videotape “the quintessential judicial record.” He argued its release was a First Amendment issue and would serve the public interest.
Proposition 8 proponents called only two witnesses at the trial. One, Institute for American Values founder David Blankenhorn, said that same-sex marriage would likely benefit gay and lesbian couples and their children, and that the country would be “more American” for allowing it.