Court Rules Prop. 8 Tapes to Stay Sealed

In a victory for supporters of California's Proposition 8 – the measure that bans gay marriage in the state – an appeals court ruled on Thursday not to release video footage of the historic 2010 trial where Judge Vaughn Walker overturned the voter-supported initiative.

Walker, who is now retired, had originally made the tapes for private use in helping him reach a verdict and gave instructions that the tapes not be used publicly.

However, Walker's successor, Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware ruled last September that the tapes should be released on the basis that public access to judicial proceedings is "foremost among the aspects of the federal judicial system that foster public confidence in the fairness and integrity of the process."

On Thursday, a three judge-panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, overturned Ware saying that, "the district court failed to appreciate the nature of the statements that the trial judge had made to the litigants, the specific factual and legal context in which he made them, and the consequences of his having done so."

"The integrity of our judicial system depends in no small part on the ability of litigants and members of the public to rely on a judge's word," they added.

Meanwhile, gay rights activists are planning to go national with a theatrical piece titled "8," which raised more than $1 million at its premier last September on Broadway.

Dozens of productions of the play, which is mostly based on transcripts of the 2010 trial, are being sponsored by The American Foundation for Equal Rights and Broadway Impact.

"In places where there is specific action being taken – where marriage equality is going to become a reality or going to be prohibited legally, or perhaps, in the case of New Hampshire, repealed – that is a focus and where we want to make sure this play is seen and heard," Adam Umhoefer, project director for the Foundation, told the Associated Press.

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