January 11, 2010 at 5:40 pm EDT | by Karen Ocamb
Watching the Prop 8 trial, part 1

Special to DC Agenda
For more on the Prop 8 trial, visit lgbtpov.com

The court is on a one hour lunch break — back into court at 1:30 p.m. Pacific time. Here’s a quick note about what’s happened so far with big story tonight:

Everyone was surprised about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on posting the proceedings onto YouTube. Judge Vaughn Walker explained that it was really posting video on the Ninth Circuit website using Google/You Tube, much as the White House does. We were also surprised about the ruling limiting it to only the closed-circuit within this federal courthouse.

The Justices are supposed to take up the matter again Wednesday. Meanwhile, Walker OK’d a request by the plaintiffs side to record the trial with arguments over what should happen with the tape recording to occur later.

Walker interrupted Ted Olson’s opening statements several times, showing he’s going to be an engaged judge. San Francisco Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart, who is part of the case, told me she thinks he may even ask questions of the witnesses.

Olson laid out their case very well, I thought — though Walker did ask some hard, pertinent questions — more on this tonight.

Charles Cooper for the defense seemed all over the place — arguing what we’ve heard often before — that marriage is historically and culturally been defined as between a man and a woman for the purposes of procreation and a stable society. Walker asked how same sex marriages effected heterosexual marriages — and he says it does because it “de-institutionalizes” the institution. Again, more on this later. I don’t think Cooper did well — and it turns out that three more of their witnesses dropped out this morning, per Stewart.

This morning’s testimony was basically by the gay male plaintiffs: Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo. Zarrillo went first and was emotional at several points, talking about the difficulty coming out and being categorized as a second class citizen. No questions from Cooper.

Katami is on the stand now. He, too, has been emotional at times. David Boies is leading this part of the examination. There have been several technical objections — including one that Walker agreed to — regarding not showing the National Organization for Marriage ad “The Gathering Storm” because the link to Protect Marriage is “tenuous.” Olson told me that “it’s not over” regarding admitting the NOM ad as evidence.

That’s it so far. More details tonight.

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