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Prop. 8 Trial: Both Sides of Gay Marriage Lawsuit Endure Rough Day at Court


On the third day of the Proposition 8 federal trial in San Francisco, it was tough going for both sides of the big stakes lawsuit over California's gay marriage ban.

For the plaintiffs, who want to overturn Proposition 8, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to indefinitely block a video feed of the trial was far from a good thing.

Pro-gay marriage marchers in Westwood in November, 2008.
Pro-gay marriage marchers in Westwood in November, 2008.
Patrick Range McDonald

Not only will the historic proceedings be unavailable to the general public through YouTube, but, according to Dale Carpenter at the smart, legal blog The Volokh Conspiracy, the ruling is "a potentially ominous development" for the pro-gay marriage side.

"As a (same-sex marriage) advocate," Carpenter writes, "you'd rather not have the ultimate reviewing court call

into question your judge's objectivity on the third day of trial."

Somewhere down the road, the Prop. 8 lawsuit may end up before the U.S. Supreme Court on appeal.

Other legal minds at The Volokh Conspiracy also chime in about the ruling, questioning the U.S. Supreme Court's decision.

Things didn't go so well for Proposition 8 supporters, either.

Before mid-day recess, pro-gay marriage lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies showed a video deposition of William Tam, an official proponent of the successful ballot measure.

Tam said he worked on the "Yes on 8" campaign and believed gays want to have sex with children, among other anti-gay sentiments. (Courage Campaign's Prop. 8 Trial Tracker has solid, live blogging coverage here.)

Tam's statements were then held up as major evidence that discriminatory motivations were behind Proposition 8 -- an important legal point for the plaintiffs' case. 

It was ugly stuff that the defendants, who want to uphold Proposition 8, had to play down in court, according to news reports.

American Foundation for Equal Rights, the Los Angeles-based, pro-gay marriage group that's bankrolling the Prop. 8 lawsuit, emphasized Tam's possibly damaging testimony in a press release.

As the trial resumes today, Dr. Edmund Egan, chief economist for the city of San

Francisco, will take the stand and talk about the economic impact of Proposition 8 in California.

Additionally, Dr. Ilan Meyer from Columbia University will testify about how

discrimination causes a mental health toll on the gay community, and Helen Zia, a lesbian writer, will discuss her

experiences with discrimination and the effects of being denied the right to

marry her partner.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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