First federal trial on same-sex marriage opens in San Francisco, U.S.

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 11 -- The first federal trial in the United States on same-sex couples' right to marry opened Monday in a federal courtroom in San Francisco, which will decide whether the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from banning same-sex marriage.

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Same-sex couples Paul Katami (L), Jeff Zarillo (2nd L), and Kris Perry (2nd R) and Sandy Stier pose for photographs before the start of their trial in San Francisco, California January 11, 2010. California's ban on same-sex marriage goes to trial on Monday in a federal case that plaintiffs hope to take all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and overturn bans throughout the nation.

The case was brought by two same-sex couples who sued the U.S. state of California, after they were denied the right to marry because of Proposition 8, a California constitutional amendment approved by voters in November 2008 that bans same-sex marriage.

In Monday's non-jury trial, lawyers representing both sides as well as the same-sex couple plaintiffs testified before Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker.

The trial is expected to last two to three weeks and is likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, according to media reports.

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Same-sex couple Elizabeth Chase (L) and Kate Baldridge stand outside the federal courthouse in San Francisco, California January 11, 2010.