Kathleen Gilbert

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Federal judge upholds gay judge’s decision on Prop. 8

Kathleen Gilbert
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SAN FRANCISCO, June 14, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A federal judge in San Francisco has dismissed an argument that a judge’s hidden homosexual relationship is grounds to throw out his ruling against Proposition 8, California’s constitutional amendment declaring marriage as between a man and a woman.

Prop. 8 supporters have argued that former Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s long-term relationship with a man gave an appearance of bias that would damage public trust in his even-handededness in the historic debate. Walker failed publicly to confirm the relationship until after he had ruled to overturn Prop. 8 and retired from the bench.

California voters approved Proposition 8 in November 2008; the new amendment cut off all benefits associated with marriage that had been made available to “married” homosexual couples since the state Supreme Court imposed same-sex “marriage” earlier that year.

However, Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware argued that because Walker never sought to marry his partner, the criticism of bias did not apply, and rested merely on “assumptions about the amorphous personal feelings of judges.” Noting that there exists no precedent for such a dispute concerning homosexual relationships, Ware compared the situation to that of a black or female judge faced with a civil rights or gender discrimination case.

Read Ware’s decision here.

“The presumption that Judge Walker, by virtue of being in a same-sex relationship, had a desire to be married that rendered him incapable of making an impartial decision, is as warrantless as the presumption that a female judge is incapable of being impartial in a case in which women seek legal relief,” Ware wrote. 

Ware also dismissed the idea that Walker’s refusal to confirm rumors of the relationship made him reasonably suspect of bias, writing that “silence is by its very nature ambiguous.”

“The Court postulates that a judge who is silent in such a situation has already, sua sponte [of his own accord], considered the question of recusal and has determined that he need not disqualify himself,” he wrote.

The fight over Proposition 8, which Walker ruled unconstitutional in August 2010, will continue in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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