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Gay Rights Advocates React With Disappointment To SCOTUS Ruling Blocking Video Of Prop 8 Trial

In Pasadena, several gay rights advocates who had been hoping to view the Prop 8 trial which began a little less than an hour ago at a US District Court in San Francisco expressed disappointment with the ruling from the Supreme Court blocking video feed access.

“The Supreme Court has decided to deny people their Constitutional rights to access to the courts,” said Brian Brookey, a Pasadena lawyer and one of the 18,000 same-sex couples who married in between the CA State Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage and the passage of Prop. 8. Brookey works around the corner from the Richard H. Chambers courthouse and has been “following the case obsessively,” so he came down to watch the first day of proceedings.

Tracey, a student and another married same-sex partner who wed when it was legal in California to do so, was similarly upset. “Shock is what I’m feeling, number one. But also, if they’re (anti-equality forces) stooping this low, that means we might have enough of a case to have them shaking in their boots.”

The Supreme Court’s stay on remote access of the trial expires on Wednesday. The ruling only includes the simulcast feeds to courthouses outside of San Francisco and the tape-delayed broadcast of the trial to YouTube. Justice Stephen Breyer objected to the stay, but he would have to convince his colleagues for it to be lifted.

Mr. Brookey, who is on the board of Lesbian and Gay Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, said that the arguments from anti-equality groups for wanting to block video feeds and YouTube broadcast were specious. “They said, ‘this threatens our fundamental constitutional rights!’ Oh, and how does that feel?”

Tracey, who is African-American, added that she talked to her father right before the trial began. “He grew up in the Jim Crow south,” she said. “And he said this was civil rights fight of our time. That’s why I wanted to be here, to say I was here right at the beginning.” She has considered driving up to San Francisco for the trial for the rest of the week.

Both agreed that the courts were the proper venue for attaining the civil right of marriage for same-sex couples. “The minority shouldn’t have to go to the ballot to beg for their civil rights,” Mr. Brookey said. “That’s not how it works in this country. The only way is to go to the courts.” Tracey added, “If you look at civil rights for gays, African-Americans, even veterans because I am a veteran too, we all had to go through a lot to get stuff done. And things start moving when you get into the courts.”

FDL’s Teddy Partridge is liveblogging the courtroom proceedings from San Francisco.

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David Dayen

David Dayen