San Francisco Supports Unsealing Prop. 8 Trial Videos

‘Public trial records – including video records – should serve to inform our national debates, not be withheld from them,’ Herrera says

SAN FRANCISCO (May 31, 2017) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today filed court documents supporting broadcaster KQED’s motion to unseal the video recording of trial proceedings in the Proposition 8 case.

“As I have noted before, public trial records — including video records — should serve to inform our national debates, not be withheld from them,” Herrera said. “Marriage equality is settled law, but discrimination against the gay, lesbian and transgender community sadly persists in parts of our country. The reason we have an open judicial system is so that individuals can see what is done in their name and effectively participate in our system of government. Allowing the public to see the most comprehensive airing of these issues that our legal system has so far produced supports that purpose.”

Herrera’s court filing noted that the public’s claim to access trial records has great force in this case.

After a campaign in which the proponents of Proposition 8 and their supporters presented gay and lesbian relationships as dangerous and as something that children and families must be protected from, the trial gave the gay and lesbian community an opportunity to rebut those attacks.

During the trial, plaintiffs and the City and County of San Francisco presented evidence that sexual orientation is an innate aspect of identity, and gay men and lesbians form lasting, committed relationships that are as suited for raising children as those formed by different-sex couples. They also presented evidence that denying marriage rights to same-sex couples stigmatizes these couples and gives social license to discriminate against them in other ways. The evidence also showed that gay men and lesbians have been subject to a long history of private and state-sponsored discrimination that they have lacked the political power to protect themselves from.

As today’s court filing noted:

“All of the reasons why there is a First Amendment and common law right to access trial court records have special resonance in this case: lesbians and gay men continue to face discrimination and harassment, the rights of people whose gender identity does not conform to majority norms are put up for grabs in legislatures or at the ballot box, and some people continue to question the fitness of lesbians and gay men as parents.  In short, while the constitutional right of gay men and lesbians to marry is now settled, many of the issues that animated the Proposition 8 trial remain live today.”

The case is: Perry v. Brown, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Case No. 09-CV-2292.  Briefs and additional information on the case are available on the City Attorney’s Web site at https://www.sfcityattorney.org/

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