Gay vs. anti-gay on US Supreme Court ruling against televising Prop 8 trial

By a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court kept in place Wednesday its order blocking video coverage of the trial of California's Proposition 8, with a conservative majority ruling that defenders of the ban on same-sex marriage would likely face "irreparable harm" if the proceedings were broadcast to the public.

In response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling prohibiting the video transmission of the proceedings in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's Chief Executive Officer Lorri L. Jean has issued the following statement:

It is very troubling that the Supreme Court has decided to prohibit, even on a delayed basis, any video transmission of the proceedings in Perry v. Schwarzenegger. In doing so, the Court has failed to recognize that where matters so basic to the dignity and equality of millions of Americans are at issue, it is even more imperative than usual that all of the constitutional arguments, pro and con, be exposed to the greatest possible public scrutiny.

Given its widespread interest and potentially historic implications, there couldn't be a more ideal case with which to launch the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' new initiative to allow video cameras in the courtroom, as Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker confirmed in his order of only last week.

Moreover, it is a new height in gall, but also extraordinarily telling, that the backers of Proposition 8, who only months ago were spending millions of dollars to broadcast their lies and distortions about marriage equality up and down the state of California, are now the ones petitioning the courts to shield their anti-gay arguments from public view. They clearly know full well that without the appeals to fear and prejudice, which have become their stock-in-trade, they have no case to make against fairness and equal treatment for all Americans.

But they should make no mistake ... whether or not cameras are there to record it, they will not be able to hide for very long the poverty of their arguments, or the injustice of their cause.

On the opposite side, Andy Pugno, general counsel for issues a press release saying:

We are relieved that the United States Supreme Court intervened today to protect our witnesses from the harm that would come with televising the Prop 8 trial. As we have said from the start, televising the proceedings in a high-profile case is unprecedented in federal court, and impedes our ability to get a fair and impartial trial. Most importantly, putting Prop 8 supporters on the witness stand and broadcasting their testimony worldwide would virtually guarantee a serious risk of harm threatened by anti-Prop 8 extremists.

In fact, the Supreme Court decision expressly acknowledged that there is already a track record of Prop 8 supporters being subjected to "harassment as a result of public disclosure of their support," including death threats, confrontational phone calls and e-mail messages, lost jobs, Internet blacklists, boycotts, vandalism and physical violence.

The Supreme Court said it intervened to prevent the televising of the Prop 8 trial because the trial court, with help form the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, had violated federal law by suspending the current rules prohibiting the televising of trial "at the eleventh hour" without going through the proper legal process.

Wednesday's ruling means the only place people can watch the case on TV is in a 19th floor conference room at the Golden Gate Avenue courthouse that seats about 150. Thirty-six seats are available to the public for the trial itself in Walker's courtroom on the 17th floor.

Photo: Fritz Liess


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