News (USA)

Judge to schedule closing arguments as Prop 8 trial attorneys file final briefs

Judge to schedule closing arguments as Prop 8 trial attorneys file final briefs

Yesterday marked the deadline for final briefs to be submitted in the federal trial over California’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Plantiffs (left to right) Paul Katami, Jeff Zarillo, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier.

The two sides in the case — two same-sex couples as plaintiffs, and the sponsors of California’s Proposition 8 as defendants — filed their final briefs late Friday shortly before a midnight deadline.

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who presided over 12 days of testimony in the case, could soon announce when’s he scheduling closing arguments.

Eventually, following closing arguments, Walker will issue a written ruling on a suit to determine if the enactment of Proposition 8 violated the defendant’s federal constitutional rights. His ruling is expected sometime in March.

Legal experts following the trial expect Walker to find that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. Even the “Yes on 8″ legal team intimated in the final days of testimony that they were bracing for a decision favorable to the plaintiffs.

Walker’s eventual ruling can be appealed to a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, then to an 11-judge panel of the same court and finally to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Earlier this month, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Walker himself is gay. And though there has been no comment from the proponents of Proposition 8, it is widely expected that Walker’s sexual orientation will become an issue if they lose the case, and front and center in their arguments on appeal.

Proposition 8 was the November 2008 voter approved ban on gay marriage, which amended the California state constitution. Earlier that year, the California Supreme Court ruled to extend marriage rights to all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation.

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