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Ninth Circuit to rule Thursday on Proposition 8 trial video

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals announced today that it plans to file an opinion by 10 am PT Thursday, Feb. 2, regarding the public release of Proposition 8 trial videotapes.

San Diego Gay & Lesbian News will cover the breaking news tomorrow.

Chief District Judge James Ware on Sept. 19, 2011, granted a motion to temporarily unseal the video recordings in the Proposition 8 trial, refuting every single argument made by opponents of marriage equality.

But Ware granted only a temporary unsealing of the trial video, allowing time for the opponents to appeal his decision. The opponents indeed appealed that decision, and the Ninth Circuit heard the appeal on Dec. 8, along with a second motion relating to the case.

Ninth Circuit Judges Michael Daly Hawkins (a Clinton nominee), Stephen Reinhardt (a Carter nominee) and N. Randy Smith (a George W. Bush nominee) presided over the appeals court hearing.

Representing the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the high-powered legal team led by Ted Olson and David Boies had successfully argued in District Court that the Prop 8 trial video should be available for viewing by the public.

Also arguing that the tapes should be released is a media coalition comprised of The Associated Press, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, FOX News, NBC News, the Hearst Corp., Dow Jones & Co., and others.

Marriage equality supporters and court observers say that the Yes on 8 attorneys want to prevent the public from seeing the Prop 8 trial video because they know that they had no defense for marriage discrimination.

Attorney David Thompson, representing the Yes on 8 side, argued that release of the trial tape would subject their two witnesses to intimidation and harassment, distort their testimony, misrepresent their opinions and cause systemic harm.

After that hearing, Rick Jacobs of the Courage Campaign tweeted that he thinks the judges are learning toward keeping the video under seal.