The fight over same-sex marriage returns to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco this afternoon, with opponents of the ban on marriage planning a courthouse rally before the hearing.What are they in court for today? Appeal pal Matt Baume explains in quite nimbly in the video above, but for those of you who can’t watch the video, it boils down to two things: video recordings and a gay judge.

Circuit Judges Stephen Reinhardt of Los Angeles and N. Randy Smith of Pocatello, Idaho, and Senior Circuit Judge Michael Daly Hawkins of Phoenix will hear arguments from sponsors of Proposition 8, who are appealing a decision in which U.S. District Judge James Ware ruled that a video recording of last year’s trial on Proposition 8, as part of the trial record, should be made public.

The video of the trial was originally intended by now-retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn 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.

Judges will also hear arguments on whether Walker, who ruled last year to strike down California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, should have disqualified himself because of his own sexual orientation.

The sponsors of the measure contend Walker should have stepped down from handling the case because he is in a long-term gay relationship and may have wanted to marry.

They have asked the appeals court to nullify his ruling on the ground that Walker’s situation created either a conflict of interest or an appearance that he might not have been impartial.

The two-hour-long oral arguments begin at 2:30 p.m. in Courtroom 1 in the federal courthouse at Mission and 7th Streets.

According to the BAR, a “Free the Tapes” and “Motion to Marry” rally, being planned by Marriage Equality USA, will begin at 1 p.m. in front of the courthouse.

You can follow along with Baume, as he’ll be tweeting from the courthouse for the American Foundation for Equal Rights. You can follow his reports here.

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the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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