Closing Arguments Today in Prop. 8 Trial

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Cameras will be banned from the courtroom during closing arguments for the trial on California’s gay marriage ban today (Wednesday). Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker did not specify why he denied a request from media to televise the closing arguments. Two same-sex couples sued the state to overturn Proposition 8, which voters approved in November 2008. It defines marriage in the California Constitution as a union between a man and a woman.

     Lawyers for each side will answer questions posed by Judge Walker on issues presented in the 12 days of testimony in January, such as whether legal recognition of same-sex marriages will reduce discrimination against gays and lesbians, and what the economic benefit will be to state and local governments if same-sex couples are allowed to marry.
     “Until very recently, same-sex relationships did not enjoy legal protection anywhere in the United States. How does this fact square with plaintiffs’ claim that marriage between persons of the same sex enjoys the status of fundamental right entitled to constitutional protection?” Judge Walker asked the attorneys.
     On whether domestic partnerships are equivalent to marriages, a contentious matter during the trial, Walker asked, “If, under California law, registered domestic partners are to be treated just like married spouses, what purpose is served by differentiating – in name only – between same-sex and opposite-sex unions?”
     To the proposition’s proponents, Walker raised questions on same-sex marriage’s possible influence on the institution of marriage and religious morality.
     What evidence presented during the trial showed that same-sex marriages are a “drastic or far-reaching change to the institution of marriage?” the judge asked. Attorneys for proponents of the ban also will have to answer whether legislation based on moral objection to homosexuality is discriminatory.

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