A judge has ruled that next week’s trial on California’s gay marriage ban will be shown on YouTube.

Defenders of Proposition 8, which restricts marriage to a man and a woman, had claimed that broadcasting proceedings could lead to intimidation of witnesses.

However, Judge Vaughn Walker dismissed this, saying the case was important enough that people should be able to watch it.

The trial, due to start on January 11th, will be broadcast with a delay of up to one day.

According to Bloomberg News, Walker said at a hearing yesterday: “This is a case which merits a very serious consideration for widespread distribution.”

He added that opponents of gay marriage had conducted a public campaign to win the ban, although he confirmed that witnesses who did not want to b shown would have their faces blacked out.

The court will be the first federal court to examine whether the gay marriage ban is unconstitutional. California’s Supreme Court rejected the argument last summer.

The case has been brought by two gay couples, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, of northern California, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, who live in southern California.

Their lawyers, Ted Olson and David Boies, are expected to argue that banning gay marriage is not a legitimate government interest and that civil unions are not an adequate substitute.

Gay marriage was legalised in California in May 2008. Voters banned it under Proposition 8 the following November.

If the case is successful in the San Francisco district court, it is deemed unlikely to succeed in the Supreme Court, where conservative judges have been keen to support all pro-gay initiatives other than marriage.

More than 30 US states explicitly ban gay marriage. If the case is successful, it would reverse years of such legislation. Only five US states currently allow gay couples to marry.