Statement by NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter

(San Francisco, CA, August 29, 2011)—Today, U.S. District Court Judge James Ware heard oral arguments about whether to unseal the video recording of the historic trial in Perry v. Brown, the challenge to Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that stripped the freedom to marry from same-sex couples in California. In August 2010, after a three-week trial in January, now-retired Chief District Judge Vaughan Walker held that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. That ruling has been on hold while Prop 8 proponents appeal Judge Walker’s ruling.

Since suffering a devastating loss at trial, Prop 8 proponents have fought to prevent the public from viewing the official video recording of the trial. The proponents initially sought a court order requiring that all copies of the videotape be returned to the Court, which Judge Ware denied earlier this year. The same-sex couples who are challenging Prop 8 filed a motion seeking to unseal the video recording, which the proponents oppose. The City and County of San Francisco and Media Coalition members including The LA Times, CNN, The New York Times, FOX News, NBC News, The Associated Press, and others filed friend-of-the court briefs asking the court to release the videotape of the public trial.

At the close of today’s hearing, Judge Ware indicated that he would issue his ruling on the issue promptly.

Statement by NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter: 

“The proponents of Proposition 8 showed again today that they do not have a single legitimate argument for barring the public from seeing the recording of this historic trial. The proponents presented a case based on bigotry and fear, and now they are desperately seeking to bury the record of that shameful performance from public view. We salute the efforts of the plaintiffs, the City and County of San Francisco, and the major news outlets that are seeking to uphold the First Amendment and vindicate the public’s right of access to a trial that addresses vital constitutional rights of California’s citizens.”

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The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.