Court Blocks Taping of Gay Marriage Trial

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On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the broadcast of the California trial over the state's gay marriage ban.

The court banned the broadcast and Internet posting of the trial for at least a few days until it can review the issue.

It's a highly volatile issue that Californians have gone to the polls about twice and there's a lot at stake in this battle over marriage.

The voter-backed gay marriage ban in California is once again on trial as a result of a lawsuit filed by two same-sex couples who argue that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution.

Protecting the biblical institution of marriage, the will and power of the people's vote and even the safety of witnesses in the trial are at stake.

Austin Nimocks of the Alliance Defense Fund appeared on Monday's CBN Newschannel's Morning program to discuss the judge's decision to broadcast the trial on the Internet website YouTube.

Click play to watch the interview.

"It isn't just California and it isn't just people who wanted to get married -- it is civil rights in this country and decency and fairness," said Ted Olson, attorney for the plaintiffs.

Proposition 8 was the second voter-approved ban on gay marriage in California, and now the plaintiffs in the case are hoping to see the will of the people overruled again.

"If the majority could vote on minority rights, we wouldn't have any minority rights in this country," said Geoff Kors, CEO for Equality California.

"In a democracy the majority always rules," said Austin R. Nimocks of The Alliance Defense Fund. "I mean that's the principle of democracy. If that doesn't exist you really don't have a democracy."

Adding to the drama of this case, before the Supreme Court overruled his decision, San Francisco federal Judge Vaughn Walker made the last minute decision to revise the court's rules and put video of the trial on the popular YouTube website.

The court normally bans television, radio and photography, but late last year, the Judicial Council of the 9th Circuit approved the limited use of cameras, saying the goal is a better public understanding of judicial processes.

Walker is the first federal trial judge to implement this experimental program. However, Prop 8 supporters explain it was intended for low-profile cases.

"One cannot think of a higher profile case than the Perry case, so it's a big mistake on his part, but it shows what he's done all along," said Brian Brown, executive director for the National Organization for Marriage.

Proposition 8 supporters say Judge Walker has been biased in previous court proceedings involving Prop 8.

"The reason that the courts don't broadcast these cases is because there's a threat of intimidation and harrassment," Brown continued. "And in the case of Proposition 8, where there's already a history of donors and supporters being threatened, intimidated and harassed, this is the worst possible idea."

Brown said Prop 8 supporters have received threatening calls, including at least one death threat. He is also concerned that trial witnesses seen on YouTube could experience the same thing.

Gay rights groups said the coverage will help expose the American public to the arguments by both sides, but Brown believes the judge's decision does not make sense, especially if witnesses get hurt.

"What he's essentially trying to do is to put the people of California who voted for Prop 8 on trial," Brown explained. "And by implication, all of America on trial, because this case has ramifications for all of the states that have protected marriage as the union of a man and a woman, so he wants to make this a circus, and he wants to be the ringmaster."

For right now, the "circus" is on hold, while the Supreme Court considers if this highly publicized trial should get even more attention.

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Mark Martin

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Mark Martin is a reporter and anchor at CBN News, covering various issues from military matters to alternative fuels. Mark has reported internationally in the Middle East and traveled to Bahrain to cover stories on the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkMartinCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/MarkMartinCBN.