News (USA)

‘Biggest open secret’ in Prop 8 trial: The judge is gay

‘Biggest open secret’ in Prop 8 trial: The judge is gay
Judge Vaughn R. Walker

The biggest open secret in the landmark trial over same-sex marriage being heard in San Francisco is that the federal judge who will decide the case, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, is himself gay.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle:

Many gay politicians in San Francisco and lawyers who have had dealings with Walker say the 65-year-old jurist, appointed to the bench by President George H.W. Bush in 1989, has never taken pains to disguise – or advertise – his orientation.

They also don’t believe it will influence how he rules on the case he’s now hearing – whether Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure approved by state voters to ban same-sex marriage, unconstitutionally discriminates against gays and lesbians.

According to one federal judge, who declined to be identified and counts himself as a friend of Walker’s, “He has a private life and he doesn’t conceal it, but doesn’t think it is relevant to his decisions in any case, and he doesn’t bring it to bear in any decisions.”

Walker himself has declined to talk about anything involving the Prop. 8 case outside court, and wouldn’t comment when asked about his orientation and whether it was relevant to the lawsuit.

“There is nothing about Walker as a judge to indicate that his sexual orientation, other than being an interesting factor, will in any way bias his view,” said Kate Kendell, head of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which is supporting the lawsuit to overturn Prop. 8.

Though there has been no comment from the proponents of Proposition 8, you can expect Walker’s orientation to become an issue if they lose the case, and front and center in their arguments on appeal.

Walker, by the way, didn’t seek out the Prop. 8 case – it was assigned to him at random.

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