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Appeals court to hear motions on Proposition 8

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 7:19 AM EST, Thu December 8, 2011
Buttons opposing California's Proposition 8 are displayed during a rally last year in San Francisco.
Buttons opposing California's Proposition 8 are displayed during a rally last year in San Francisco.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A judge ruled the law unconstitutional and later revealed he was gay
  • Proposition 8 recognizes marriages only between one man and one woman
  • The case is expected to end up in the U.S. Supreme Court, both sides say

San Francisco (CNN) -- A three-judge panel will hear motions Thursday on whether a federal court decision to invalidate a ban on same-sex marriages in California should be overturned because the judge was gay and in a long-term relationship.

Federal District Court Judge Vaughn Walker -- who has since retired -- overturned the voter-approved measure known as Proposition 8 after a two-week trial in 2010, saying gay and lesbian couples were unfairly denied the right to marry.

In June, District Court Judge James Ware upheld the ruling by his former colleague.

"It is not reasonable to presume that a judge is incapable of making an impartial decision about the constitutionality of a law, solely because, as a citizen, the judge could be affected by the proceedings," Ware ruled.

Ware, based in San Francisco, backed the original ruling by Walker that the ban on same-sex marriage in the state was unconstitutional -- a violation of equal protection.

Also at Thursday's hearing, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear a motion to release the trial video.

The 9th Circuit, in a hearing about a year ago, indicated it was inclined to toss out Prop 8.

Both sides of the dispute acknowledge the issue of same sex-marriage is likely headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, perhaps within the coming year.

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