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Court to hear arguments on Prop. 8 video in December

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Now-retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said Proposition 8 violates the federal Constitution's guarantees of equal treatment and due process. (AP file photo) - NOW-RETIRED U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE VAUGHN WALKER SAID PROPOSITION 8 VIOLATES THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION'S GUARANTEES OF EQUAL TREATMENT AND DUE PROCESS. (AP FILE PHOTO)
  • Now-retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said Proposition 8 violates the federal Constitution's guarantees of equal treatment and due process. (AP file photo)
  • Now-retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said Proposition 8 violates the federal Constitution's guarantees of equal treatment and due process. (AP file photo)

A federal appeals court announced Monday it will hear arguments in San Francisco in early December on whether to unseal a video recording of last year's trial on Proposition 8.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also ordered the recording remain sealed until then.

The order extends a previous short-term stay in which the appeals court temporarily blocked a lower court ruling mandating public release of the video.

Proposition 8 bans same-sex marriage in California and was approved by state voters in 2008.

Sponsors of the measure are appealing a decision in which U.S. District Judge James Ware ruled in September that the video, as part of the trial record, should be made public.

In the trial, now-retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said Proposition 8 violates the federal Constitution's guarantees of equal treatment and due process. He ruled in a lawsuit filed by two same-sex couples.

That decision is also being appealed by the supporters of Proposition 8 and has also been put on hold during the appeal process.

The video of the trial was originally intended by Walker for possible delayed broadcasting on a YouTube government channel, but that plan was blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The sponsors of Proposition 8 contend that unsealing the tape could lead to harassment of witnesses and could possibly deter people from testifying in future trials.

Lawyers for the couples who challenged the measure and for a coalition of media organizations argue that releasing the recording is in the public interest. Ware agreed in a Sept. 19 decision.

In Monday's order, a three-judge panel of the appeals court said it will expedite its consideration of the video appeal and will hear an hour of arguments during the week of Dec. 5.

The panel also set a briefing schedule, with principal briefs from both sides due by Nov. 14 and reply briefs by Nov. 28.

Written transcripts of the 12 days of trial testimony and one day of closing arguments have already been made public, and gay marriage supporters have posted a video re-enactment of the trial on the Internet.