The audience in today’s closing arguments in a federal marriage trial in San Francisco will include a small troupe of Hollywood actors preparing for a YouTube performance.
The arguments before U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker are the final stage in a trial in which two same-sex couples claim that Proposition 8, California’s voter-approved ban on gay and lesbian marriage, violates their federal constitutional rights.
Co-producers John Ireland and John Ainsworth of Los Angeles said the six actors plan to re-enact the five hours of arguments later this week for posting on a website, MarriageTrial.com, hosted by YouTube.
The re-enactment is part of a larger project in which 42 volunteer actors in the roles of Walker, the two couples, witnesses and attorneys have replayed the entire trial for posting on the Internet, using publicly available transcripts of the trial as their script.
Thus far, the group has re-enacted and posted 55 hours of the testimony portion of the trial held before Walker in January.
The producers got the idea for the project after the U.S. Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote blocked Walker’s plan to allow a delayed broadcast of the nation’s first federal trial on a constitutional challenge to a state ban on same-sex marriage. The purpose is to make the historic trial more accessible to the public.
“When the Supreme Court ruled in January that the Prop 8 trial could not be televised, we knew what we had to do,” Ainsworth said on Tuesday.
The producers said that while the actors in the first 55 hours of the re-enactment studied their roles by reading transcripts, those attending today’s session wanted to study the judge and the attorneys firsthand during the arguments.
“As the trial draws to a close, we want our actors to see their real-life counterparts up close–to study their final moments making their case before the judge issues his ruling,” Ainsworth said.
The actors will return to Hollywood to do the filming and plan to do the re-enactment as soon as they receive the transcripts of the session.
Walker is expected to take the case under consideration and issue a written ruling at a later date.
Ireland said the MarriageTrial.com project is planning to re-enact the ruling as well, by having actor Ted Heyck, who has taken the role of Walker, read the decision aloud–even though the document could be as long as 50 or more pages because of the complexity of the case.
Ireland said although it is not known when the ruling will come out, Heyck will be on call, and when the decision is issued, “He will skim the text, don the robe and we go live,” with a webcast the group hopes will be in time for the evening news on the day of the ruling.
Walker’s eventual decision is certain to be appealed to a federal appeals court and may reach the U.S. Supreme Court.