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California federal court begins Proposition 8 trial

[JURIST] A trial on the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8 [text] same-sex marriage [JURIST archive] ban commenced Monday in the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website]. Proceedings included opening statements from lead attorneys and testimony [San Jose Mercury News report] from plaintiffs seeking the right to marry their same-sex partners. Judge Vaughn Walker, who is presiding over the Proposition 8 trial, ruled [JURIST report] in October that the case could be heard in federal court. Walker has said the trial is necessary to ascertain the level of constitutional protection granted to same-sex couples. Testimony is expected to continue for several weeks.

Because of the explosive impact the trial could have on same-sex marriage rights in the US, the start of the trial has engendered controversy over the broadcast of the proceedings. Earlier Monday, the US Supreme Court temporarily blocked [JURIST report] the broadcast of the trial on the video-sharing site YouTube. The Court's decision overruled Judge Walker's earlier deicision [JURIST report] to allow the trial to be recorded and posted on the District Court's YouTube channel. Proposition 8's supporters have argued that the trial's broadcast could lead to witness intimidation. Proposition 8 was approved [JURIST report] by California voters in November 2008.

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