SAN FRANCISCO — The legal sparring over California's same-sex marriage ban returned to a federal courtroom Monday with a judge hearing arguments on whether he should unseal video recordings of last year's landmark trial on the constitutionality of the voter-approved measure.
Lawyers representing two same-sex couples, the city of San Francisco and a coalition of media groups that includes The Associated Press asked Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware to make the recordings public.
They maintained that allowing people to see the proceedings for themselves was necessary to demonstrate why Ware's predecessor, former Chief Judge Vaughn Walker, ultimately struck down the ban, known as Proposition 8, and to counter any perceptions that Walker was biased against same-sex marriage opponents from the start.
"Releasing the video would allow everyone to review and make their own judgment about what happened," Theodore Boutrous, the couples' attorney, told the judge.
Ware did not rule at the end of Monday's hearing but said he would issue a written ruling at a later date.
Attorneys for the ban's backers want to keep the videos under wraps. They argued that disseminating oral and visual recordings of the 13-day trial would be a direct violation of the U.S. Supreme Court's position on the issue.
As the trial got under way in January 2010, the high court, on a 5-4 vote, blocked cameras from covering the high-profile case so they could be streamed live to other federal courthouses and possibly posted on YouTube.