It’s a big day for gay marriage across the nation. In San Francisco, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker has ruled that a potential legal revolution to overturn Prop 8 will not be televised live, though it will be YouTubed.
The judge will preside over the federal trial, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, in which a civil rights group, two gay couples, and the City of San Francisco are arguing that Prop 8 is a violation of their constitutional guarantee to equal protection under the law. Defenders of Prop 8 are not very happy about the judge’s decision, fearing that being exposed on YouTube will intimidate their witnesses. Somehow, they equate witnesses answering under oath in a court of law to Carrie Prejean answering to Perez Hilton in the Miss America Pageant . They think the proponents of “opposite marriage” will be intimidated out of speaking truth to power, for fear that they will receive the same harrowing shake down that Prejean suffered. So much for bravely standing up for their conservative principals in public, not to mention the fact that that all court witnesses and testimonies are a matter of public record, televised or not.
Gay rights activists are generally pleased with the judge’s decision, though they don’t think it goes far enough. The Courage Campaign is calling for the proceedings to be televised live, rather than to have them broadcast hours later, as doing so through YouTube would necessitate.
Meanwhile, just across the river in the New Jersey, a marriage equality bill will be getting a vote in the state Senate this afternoon. Though Democrats hold 23 of the 40 seats in the Senate, only 13 have publicly endorsed the bill, while five have said they won’t vote for it. That means, to get to 21 votes, the Democrats will need at least all five undeclared Democrats, plus at least three Republicans. They already have one — William Baroni — and it remains to be seen if he can pull along any of his Republican colleagues.
And, in Washington D.C. today, 39 Republican members of Congress have joined forces with local opponents there to oppose marriage equality. Though gay marriage was effectively legalized in the District last month by the D.C. City Council and mayor Adrian Fenty, a lawsuit filed today in D.C. Superior Court alleges that decision should be put directly to the voters. Two Republican Senators and 37 Republican Members of the House signed an amicus brief in support, despite tradition that federal legislators not get involved in local D.C. civic affairs.
The federal lawsuit in San Francisco has the potential to render all of these local arguments moot.
The New Jersey Senate vote will be streamed today at 2:00 PM at advocate.com.
The Prop 8 Trial begins on Monday, and recorded footage will be available shortly thereafter at youtube.com/usdccand.