Sanders to Testify at Prop 8 Trial

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Sanders became San Diego's mayor in 2005.

    San Diego's mayor will take the stand next week, sources say.

    Mayor Jerry Sanders is expected to take the stand on Tuesday at the trial debating the controversial ballot measure that was passed by voters last fall, banning legal same-sex marriage in the state of California. He is expected to testify about the city's support of same-sex marriage, a stance that the mayor adopted at the same time he tearfully disclosed that one of his daughters was a lesbian.

    The trial is the nation's first on whether a ban on same-sex  marriage violates the U.S. Constitution.

    The lawsuit was brought by two gay couples. Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier, who live in Berkeley, and Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrillo, who live in Los Angeles are the plaintiffs. Former U.S. Solicitor General States Theodore Olson, a conservative, has teamed up with liberal attorney David Boies to challenge Prop. 8.

    Both male plaintiffs took the stand earlier this week and tearfully talked about their love for each other and the heartache they felt because they are  not able to marry each other.

    The emotional testimony followed opening statements by lawyers on each side of the case.

    U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's peppered lawyers on both sides with questions, asking if they had evidence the Constitution grants gays the right to marry and if states have a reasonable right to deny those marriages.

    Walker asked how Proposition 8 could be discriminatory since California already allows domestic partnerships that carry the same rights and benefits of marriage.

    "If California would simply get out of the marriage business and classify everyone as a domestic partnership, would that solve the problem?" the judge asked.

    A lawyer for the couples opened the  trial by claiming, "Marriage is the most important  relation in life."

    = Olson argued that California's same-sex marriage  ban "stigmatizes gays and lesbians and says 'Your relationship is not the  same' " as those of heterosexual couples.

    Charles Cooper, a lawyer for the sponsors of Prop 8, argued a different view of marriage, telling the judge that it is "a pro-child  social institution."

    Cooper said restricting marriage to opposite-sex unions is justified because the basic purpose of marriage is "to promote naturally  procreative sexual activity in a stable and enduring relationship" that will nurture children.

    This is not a jury trial. The audience is Judge Walker and anyone who can get a seat in court.  The millions who would have been given a chance to watch on You Tube will have to settle for reporter a play-by-play and court sketches.

    At the trial, Walker said he intends to ask lawyers to present the facts underlying much of the political rhetoric surrounding same-sex marriage. Among his questions are whether sexual orientation can be changed and the effect on children of being raised by two mothers or two fathers.

    Witnesses for Proposition 8 backers will testify that governments historically have sanctioned traditional marriage as a way to promote responsible child-rearing, and that this remains a valid justification for limiting marriage to a man and a woman.

    Others expected to testify are academic experts from the fields of political science, history, psychology and economics.

    Regardless of the written outcome of Walker's, the case is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it ultimately could become a landmark that determines if gay Americans have the right to marry.

    A plan by the judge to allow a delayed broadcast of the trial on  YouTube was blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court in the hours before court began.  The court halted the video coverage until at least Wednesday while justices considers whether  to permit it.