The judge presiding over the legal challenge to Proposition 8, the Californian voter-approved ban on gay marriage, is seeking to record and broadcast proceedings.

Under a new pilot programme introduced last week, cameras will be allowed into courtrooms in Western states during civil, non-jury cases for the first time.

Chief US District Judge Vaughn Walker announced his intention to record or webcast a pretrial hearing on 6 January, subject to approval from the governing body, as a precursor to the challenge itself, scheduled to begin on 11 January.

Proposition 8 was introduced in November 2008 to overturn a ruling by the Supreme Court that the constitution allowed a gay or lesbian couple to marry.

Supporters have warned a televised trial would be “unwise” and “illegal” in a filing this week, and would seek a higher authority if Judge Walker is able to bring in cameras.

Smaller state courts have historically allowed recordings to be made of proceedings with the permission of the judge. Federal courts have mainly prohibited footage from the courtroom until now.

Theodore Boutrous, an attorney for the couples who helped launch the campaign to challenge the constitutionality of Proposition 8, approves a televised trial, stating “overwhelming national public interest” in the case.