The first day of the federal trial to overturn Proposition 8 started in San Francisco yesterday, with attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies, who want to end the gay marriage ban in California, first pulling on the heartstrings and then following it up with expert testimony to appeal to the brain.

Variety Managing Editor Ted Johnson provides solid, courthouse coverage of the first day, which saw one of the plaintiffs in the case, Jeff Zarrillo, “choking up” at times when he explained why Proposition 8 is unacceptable.

“Domestic partnership would relegate me to a level of second class

citizenship, maybe third class citizenship,” said Zarrillo. “That is not enough.”

The three other plaintiffs — Kris Perry, Sandy Stier and Paul Katami — also testified at the beginning of the trial.

From there, things got a bit more cerebral.

In the late afternoon, Harvard University professor Nancy Cott started her testimony, which went into the history of marriage.

Cott did not finish her time on the witness stand and will continue this morning.

The Harvard professor will then be followed by another Ivy League witness — Yale professor George Chauncey. He will

testify about the history of discrimination experienced by gays and

lesbians in the United States.

In the meantime, gay blogger Michael Petrelis and Courage Campaign Institute are providing live blogging coverage of the trial.

The American Foundation for Equal Rights, the Los Angeles-based, pro-gay marriage group that's bankrolling the federal lawsuit, has also set up an informative Web site.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at

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