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Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student


Gay rights trial begins

The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO – The first federal trial to determine whether the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from outlawing same-sex marriage got under way Monday.

Expected to last two to three weeks, the proceedings involve a challenge to Proposition 8, the gay marriage ban approved by California voters in November 2008.
Regardless of the outcome, the case will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court, where it ultimately could become a landmark case determining if gay Americans have the right to marry.

The judge, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, has asked lawyers on both sides to present the facts underlying much of the political rhetoric surrounding same-sex marriage, including whether sexual orientation can be changed, the effect on traditional marriages and the effect on children being raised by same-sex couples.

Jennifer Pizer, marriage director for the gay law advocacy group Lambda Legal, said the case is exciting due to the issues it raises.

“Can the state reserve the esteemed language and status of marriage just for heterosexual couples and relegate same-sex couples to a lesser status? Are there any adequate public interests to justify reimposing such a caste system for gay people, especially by a majority vote to take a cherished right from a historically mistreated minority?” Pizer said.

The sponsors of Proposition 8, which passed with 52 percent of the vote, won permission to defend the law in court after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown refused to.

Both are defendants in the case due to their positions in state government.

Lawyers for the measure’s backers plan to argue that because same-sex marriage is still a social experiment, it is wise for states like California to take a wait-and-see approach.

Gay marriage is legal in only a handful of U.S. states, though many other states recognize civil unions that provide some but not all of the same benefits.

Among those set to testify are the leaders of the Proposition 8 campaign, academic experts from the fields of political science, history, psychology and economics, and the two plaintiff couples.

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