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Appeals court denies gay marriage supporters' bid for Prop. 8 communications

December 11, 2009 |  5:44 pm


A federal appeals court panel today denied gay marriage supporters' demands to see internal campaign communications among Proposition 8 supporters, ruling that to do so would violate the 1st Amendment's guarantee of freedom of association.

Lawyers for two gay couples challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the voter initiative in California that banned same-sex marriage after a five-month period last year when it was legal, had sought disclosure of e-mails and other communications to show that backers of the ballot measure had tried to create "discriminatory animus" against homosexuals.

The decision of the appeals court panel, composed of three judges appointed by President Bill Clinton, reverses rulings by District Court Judge Vaughn Walker in San Francisco ordering the initiative's supporters to disclose their campaign strategy.

Proposition 8 has been upheld by the California Supreme Court as a legal amendment to the state Constitution. The suit brought in Walker's federal courtroom, by a gay couple in Burbank and a lesbian couple in Berkeley, alleges violations of the federal Constitution's guarantees of equal protection and due process.

The couples' case is scheduled for trial before Walker on Jan. 11.

--Carol J. Williams

Use The Times' interactive map to track changes in rights for same sex couples in the U.S. since 2000

Click to view Times interactive map on gay marriage

Photo: L.A. Times