U.S. Supreme Court urged to uphold release of same-sex marriage trial video

Gay newlyweds walk on a giant rainbow flag. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

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  • Landmark trial in California in 2010 struck state ban on gay marriage
  • Gibson Dunn, Davis Wright press for video’s release
  • Petition in March argued for continued seal of recording

(Reuters) – Advocates for same-sex marriage and for court transparency on Tuesday urged the U.S. Supreme Court not to block the public release of video recordings from the landmark federal court trial in California in 2010 that overturned the state’s ban on gay marriage.

The Supreme Court is weighing a challenge from one-time proponents of the ban, known as Proposition 8, to keep the video of the trial under seal. The challengers last year lost their bid in the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to stop the video’s release.

The disclosure is on hold pending review in the Supreme Court.

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“The Ninth Circuit correctly found that the Proponents of Proposition 8 will suffer no injury from the unsealing of a recording of a major public trial of constitutional rights that occurred in an open federal courtroom more than 12 years ago,” Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Christopher Dusseault, a lawyer for the same-sex marriage couples, told Reuters.

He added: “We expect that the petition will be denied and the public will finally have access to this important historical record.”

Davis Wright Tremaine represents the public radio and television broadcaster KQED Inc, which has fought for public access to the video. San Francisco’s city attorney also joined Tuesday’s filing in the Supreme Court.

Charles Cooper of Washington, D.C.-based Cooper & Kirk, representing the same-sex marriage ban proponents, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

In 2010, now-retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker used the trial video to help him consider the marriage case. The Supreme Court in the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges case invalidated same-sex marriage restrictions.

Cooper told the justices that Walker had said the recording would stay under seal.

In November, the 9th Circuit divided 2-1 in ruling that the video of the trial could be released.

Circuit Judge William Fletcher said for the majority that Prop 8 supporters had failed to show how they’d be harmed by the disclosure of the video.

Circuit Judge Sandra Ikuta in a dissent called the court’s order “another sad chapter in the story of how the judiciary has been willing to bend or break its own rules.”

A transcript of the trial has been available since its conclusion.

The case is Hollingsworth et al. v. Perry et al., U.S. Supreme Court, No. 21-1304.

For Dennis Hollingsworth: Charles Cooper of Cooper & Kirk

For Kristin Perry: Christopher Dusseault of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; for KQED Inc: Thomas Burke of Davis Wright Tremaine

Read more:

U.S. Supreme Court asked to keep landmark gay-marriage trial video sealed

Video of landmark gay marriage trial can be released: 9th Circuit

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