American Foundation for Equal Rights

The Public Deserves to Know: AFER Calls for Transparency and Full Release of Prop. 8 Trial Video

For Immediate Release

Press Contacts
Amanda Crumley: 213-785-5368
Brandon Hersh: 202-412-9766

AFER, San Francisco City/County, and Media Coalition Members Including LA Times, CNN, New York Times, AP, FOX News and Others File Briefs Asking The Court to Release the Trial Video

Los Angeles – In response to efforts by the Prop 8 Proponents to conceal video of the Prop 8 trial from the public, the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) called for the full and unedited release of the Perry v. Schwarzenegger public trial footage.

AFER, the City and County of San Francisco, and Media Coalition members including The LA Times, CNN, The NY Times, FOX News, NBC News, The Associated Press, and others filed briefs urging the court to release the videotapes of the public trial, the transcripts of which have always been public.

AFER attorney Theodore J. Boutrous Jr. said, “Why should the public be denied the opportunity to see and hear what happened in a public trial in a public courtroom in a case involving the constitutional rights of millions of people?” Boutrous added, “The Proponents of Prop. 8 have repeatedly attempted to obscure and distort the facts of this trial because they simply have no case and they seem desperately anxious to prevent the American public from seeing the facts for themselves.”

AFER Board President Chad Griffin echoed sentiments once made by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in regards to another public disclosure case (Doe v. Reed) that, “Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed.”

Griffin said, “Prop. 8 supporters waged a very public and very negative multi-million dollar campaign to block gay and lesbian couples from marrying.  If they truly believe in the campaign they waged, they should publicly stand by their defense of Prop. 8 in federal court and not try to stop public access to the trial proceedings.  This case involves the constitutional rights of millions of people, therefore it is especially important for the public to see what happened during trial.”

In its brief to the Court, Media Coalition members argued that the case “continues to be closely watched because the legality of California’s Proposition 8 ban on same sex marriage is of profound interest to millions. Permitting public access to the video recordings of the trial proceedings will only enhance the public’s understanding of and provide confidence in the Court’s ultimate resolution of this matter.”

AFER also launched a campaign encouraging supporters of marriage equality to sign a petition requesting the full and unedited release of the trial tapes.  See here:

Below are excerpts from AFER’s brief, which can be read in full here:

“Proponents’ fierce determination to shield access by any member of the American public to the actual compelling evidence which demonstrated the unconstitutionality of Proposition 8 and the paucity of evidence that Proponents presented in its defense directly conflicts with this Nation’s constitutional commitment to public and open judicial process and serves no legitimate public end.

“Although Proponents expended tens of millions of dollars on a public campaign to restore discrimination in California that the state Supreme Court had struck down, they now seek to prevent the public from ever observing first-hand their efforts in a public courtroom to defend that discrimination and the exposure of those efforts to the acid test of cross-examination in open court. The present motion is their latest attempt to prevent the public from witnessing that trial.”

“Proponents have not remotely overcome the exacting burdens imposed by the First Amendment and the common law as prerequisites for throwing a blanket over a true, accurate and unedited record of a widely publicized public trial of an exceedingly important constitutional issue affecting millions of Americans.”

The Media Coalition’s brief can be read in full here:

The City and County of San Francisco’s brief can be read in full here:

About the American Foundation for Equal Rights

The American Foundation for Equal Rights is the sole sponsor of the Perry case. After bringing together Theodore B. Olson and David Boies to lead its legal team, AFER successfully advanced the Perry case through federal district court and is now leading it through the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals before the case is brought to the United States Supreme Court. The Foundation is committed to achieving full federal marriage equality.