The federal judge presiding over a trial on California’s Proposition 8 issued a list today of 39 wide-ranging questions to be answered in closing arguments in San Francisco next week.
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker is conducting a nonjury trial on a lawsuit in which two couples contend that Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban enacted by state voters in 2008, is unconstitutional. The trial is the nation’s first on a U.S. constitutional challenge to a prohibition on gay marriage.
Walker heard two and a half weeks of testimony in January and has scheduled a daylong hearing on closing arguments on June 16. The queries posed by Walker cover all sides and angles of the case on topics ranging from voter intent and the role of churches in the 2008 election campaign to the definition and purpose of marriage.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs are asked to answer, “What is the import of evidence showing that marriage has been historically limited to a man and a woman?” On the other side, the judge asked the sponsors of Proposition 8, “What evidence in the record shows that same-sex marriage is a drastic or far-reaching change to the institution of marriage?”
Both sides were asked, “What purpose does a law requiring that a marital partnership consist of one man and one woman serve?”
The list of questions has a dozen for each side and 15 more queries for both sides. The plaintiffs are asked what the significance would be if the trial evidence shows that Mormon, Roman Catholic and evangelical churches participated in the Proposition 8 election campaign in “an attempt to enforce private morality.” The defenders of Proposition 8 are asked, “Why is legislating based on moral disapproval of homosexuality not tantamount to discrimination?”
Walker’s decision in the case is expected to be issued in writing sometime after the closing arguments. The case is certain to be appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and may reach the U.S. Supreme Court.