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Proposition 8 closing arguments to begin in San Francisco

June 16, 2010 | 10:13 am

Same-sex marriage supporters waved signs and sound bites flew outside the San Francisco federal courthouse Wednesday as U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker prepared to hear closing arguments in the landmark Proposition 8 case.

Two years ago, the California Supreme Court ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violated the state Constitution. Proposition 8 amended the state Constitution and reinstated the ban.

The state high court later ruled, 6-1, that the measure was valid but upheld the marriages of thousands of same-sex couples who wed before the controversial measure was passed by voters.

A female couple and a male couple filed the federal suit in San Francisco, contending Proposition 8 violated federal constitutional guarantees.

On Wednesday morning, two of the plaintiffs in Perry vs. Schwarzenegger underscored what brought them to court in the first place.

“For Kris and I, this case for us is about how we, as Americans, just want to be treated equally by our government,” said Sandy Stier, referring to her partner of more than a decade, Kris Perry.

Jeff Zarrillo, who came to court with his partner, Paul Katami, said: “All we’re asking the court to do is make sure we’re protected under our Constitution like everyone is supposed to be.”

But attorneys for the Alliance Defense Fund, which supports Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage, argued in front of the courthouse that allowing same-sex marriage would be an “extreme interpretation of the Constitution.”

“The focus for it is whether we still live in a democracy,” said Austin R. Nimocks, senior legal counsel for the group, “whether a single judge is going to trump the voices of over 7 million Californians who heard both sides of the debate and cast their votes accordingly.”

-- Maria L. La Ganga at the federal courthouse in San Francisco 

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