If anyone needs further proof that people respond to smart, grassroots organizing through the Internet, he only needs to look at yesterday's Courage Campaign petition drive.

According to a Courage Campaign press release today, more than 50,000 people signed an online petition to demand that U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker televise the upcoming Proposition 8 federal trial in San Francisco…and the number of signatures continues to grow.

“The response to our call for openness is simply incredible,” Campaign Courage founder Rick Jacobs says in the press release. “From the

moment Prop. 8 passed, our online community has been leading the battle

to overturn Prop. 8. Today was an amazing example of their activism in

support of marriage equality.”

Walker has set a Friday deadline for all public comments to reach him.

Proposition 8 supporters, in the meantime, are saying a televised trial may cause safety problems for witnesses who want to ban gay marriage.

“The question is really whether Judge Walker can put people on the

stand where they can be threatened,” National Organization for Marriage executive director Brian Brown recently told the Washington Times. “It's a question

of people's safety.”

Brown is a leading, national voice in banning same sex marriage across the country, which brings up an interesting point.

So far, according to Frontiers news editor Karen Ocamb, witnesses who may be asked to testify are not ordinary citizens who voted for Proposition 8, but well-known, very public leaders of the anti-gay marriage movement such as ProtectMarriage.com's Ron Prentice and “Yes on 8” campaign manager Frank Schubert.

These witnesses, in other words, have already gone public in a very big way, and a televised trial isn't going to suddenly throw them in the limelight.

Regardless, no one forced Schubert and company to play a major role in taking away an existing right that allowed gays and lesbians to legally marry in California. They jumped on that bandwagon and steered it all themselves.

It makes us think of that old line whenever these kinds of situations pop up:  “If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.”

UPDATE: U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker has decided today to NOT allow a “live” broadcast of the upcoming Prop. 8 trial. According to Frontiers news editor Karen Ocamb, the judge wants to allow the proceedings to be taped for a delayed broadcast on the Internet, but he still needs the approval of the federal court system. Courage Campaign continues to ask the public to demand for some kind of televised coverage of the trial.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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