Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Prop 8 trial

Excerpts of two stories
Prop. 8 backers target 18,000 same-sex marriages

San Francisco Chronicle

As the trial over California's prohibition on same-sex marriage enters its final stage today, the ban's sponsors are urging the judge to go a step further and revoke state recognition of the marriages of 18,000 gay and lesbian couples who wed before voters passed Proposition 8.

"Moral disapproval of homosexual conduct is not tantamount to animus, bigotry or discrimination," said Charles Cooper, lawyer for Protect Marriage, the Prop. 8 campaign organization. "On the contrary, religions that condemn homosexual conduct also teach love of gays and lesbians."

His ruling, which could be weeks away, will be the first round in a battle likely to reach the U.S. Supreme Court within two years.

Theodore Olson, lead attorney for the couples challenging Prop. 8, called the measure "an attempt to enforce private moral beliefs about a disfavored minority." He said the Yes on 8 campaign, supported by the Roman Catholic and Mormon churches, had told voters that same-sex relationships are immoral and had exploited fears that gays menace children.

Prop 8 proponents lose pre-closing skirmish

By Lisa Keen

Closing arguments get underway Wednesday in the Proposition 8 case in California, and attorneys representing the various officials who campaigned for the ban on same-sex marriage were just dealt another blow.

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker issued an order Friday denying their request to strike from the evidence certain emails that demonstrate how heavily involved Catholic and Mormon church officials were in the Yes on 8 campaign.

The evidence is not necessarily critical as a legal matter. There are many grounds on which Walker can decide the fate of the anti-same-sex marriage law without considering anti-gay religious-based sentiment. But the denial does create a public record that could be embarrassing to Catholic and Mormon church officials. Those officials, particularly with the Mormon Church, have been eager to keep their participation private.

But Walker said the First Amendment does not protect an email from disclosure "simply because it was intended to be private." The First Amendment, in the context of an initiative campaign, he said, protects those communications between individuals who make up a formal group, not communications between individuals in various groups.

Closing arguments begin at 1 p.m. Eastern, 10 a.m. Pacific, time Wednesday and are expected to conclude that afternoon. Plaintiffs attorney Ted Olson said he believes Walker could issue a decision "within weeks."

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