Groundbreaking gay marriage trial starts in Calif

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The first federal trial to determine if the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from outlawing same-sex marriage gets under way in San Francisco on Monday, and the two gay couples on whose behalf the case was brought will be among the first witnesses.

The proceedings, which are expected to last two to three weeks, involve a challenge to Proposition 8, the gay marriage ban approved by California voters in November 2008.

Regardless of the outcome, 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.

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker has asked lawyers to present the facts underlying such issues as how legalizing gay marriage affects traditional marriages and the effect on children of being raised by two mothers or two fathers.