SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Three federal appeals court judges were hearing arguments in San Francisco Thursday afternoon on two issues related to last year’s trial on Proposition 8, California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.
On one issue, the judges of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will consider whether to unseal a video recording made of the trial on the constitutionality of Proposition 8.
On the second issue, the panel will review whether the trial judge in the case, now-retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, had a conflict of interest because he was in a long-term gay relationship.
But the court won’t be hearing any debate Thursday on the central issue of whether Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution.
The same panel previously heard arguments on that question a year ago—on Dec. 6, 2010 — and now has that part of the case under consideration.
The panel will hand down a written ruling or rulings on all three issues at a later date, perhaps not until early next year.
In the main part of the case, Walker ruled last year that the 2008 ballot initiative violated the Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection.
But that decision has been put on hold while the appeal proceeds.
All three issues before the circuit court are being appealed by the sponsors of Proposition 8 and their committee, Protect Marriage.
The case may not be resolved for a year or more because the panel’s eventual ruling can be appealed to a larger 11-judge panel and then to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The three judges conducting Thursday’s hearing were Stephen Reinhardt of Los Angeles, Randy Smith of Pocatello, Idaho, and Michael Hawkins of Phoenix.
Supporters of same-sex marriage were planning a 1 p.m. rally titled “Free the Tapes and Motion for Marriage” outside the 9th Circuit courthouse at Seventh and Mission streets in San Francisco.
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