It’s coming to a close.
The historic and highly controversial federal proceedings testing the validity of Proposition 8 are scheduled to take place tomorrow, Wednesday, June 16th, at the federal courthouse in San Francisco, Justice Vaughn Walker presiding. Both the plaintiffs and the prosecution are expected to share their closing arguments with the court, thus rounding out both teams’ sentiments concerning the issue of gay marriage in the state. The outcome will determine whether the infamous proposition can legally bar gays from marrying within California, where gay marriage had temporarily been legalized prior to the proposition’s win in November 2008, or whether such a measure is a direct infringement on basic equal rights protected by the Constitution.
The Sacramento Bee reported on Monday that lead defense attorney Andrew Pugno, who co-wrote Prop 8, plans on focusing on “the novelty of gay marriage,” and how the notion of gay marriage can’t be a fundamental human right, since its inclusion into American public life has been so contemporary. He aims to highlight voter rights as well as urge his belief that “opposite-sex relationships are unique and deserving of the unique status of marriage … It’s as simple as the bees and the birds. It’s common sense and reasonable that the ideal for a child is to have a mother and father, and that it’s rational for the state to promote this.”
On the other side of the courtroom, plaintiff attorney David Boies surmised quite the opposite, conjecturing that “none of the defendants’ witnesses supported those propositions. In fact all of the (defense) witnesses who spoke on those issues ended up giving contrary testimony.” He continued by noting that even one of the opposing teams top attorneys, while under cross-examination by Judge Walker, admitted that “people are allowed to marry under all sorts of circumstances where procreation is not the goal, (and) not even possible.”
Both sides wouldn’t speculate on which way they believed the court to be leaning, however each vowed to file an appeal depending on how the gavel falls after Wednesday’s final hearings.
Prior to Wednesday’s hearings, Walker did solicit both sides to answer a series of questions, a move not unusual in a non-jury trial such as this. For the defending attorneys, those representing Prop 8, the tone of the questioning focused heavily on why they believed marriage to be an inherent right available solely to heterosexual couples and why amending the California Constitution, thus banning gays from marriage, was a necessary step.
For the prosecution, Walker’s questioning concentrated more on whether or not gays are a minority group entitled to protection by the court, and how blocking them from marriage in California violates their equal rights.
And as an unfortunate side development, as reported by SF gate last Friday, Judge Walker has denied the media access to filming the final proceedings of the Prop 8 trial, despite their formal request made several weeks prior. Thomas Burke, attorney representing the media, said, “the public will again only hear about this case second-hand.” (Sad but true.) Pugno, Prop 8 lawyer, countered, “the purpose of the court is not to entertain or educate the public, but to protect the right to a fair and impartial trial.”
Justice Walker did not expatiate on his decision. The trial will be filmed on closed-circuit TV however, but only broadcast in the “overflow” courtroom, adjoining the court.
For more information on the historic final proceedings please visit: sacbee.com.