Is Judge Vaughn Walker gay? Does it matter?
Not surprisingly, supporters of Proposition 8 say the U.S. District Court judge who overturned California’s voter approved ban on gay marriage should have recused himself from the case because, they say, he is gay — and therefore is biased.
“The ‘trial’ in San Francisco in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger case is a unique, and disturbing, episode in American jurisprudence,” Maggie Gallagher, Chairman of the Board of NOM, said in a statement. “Here we have an openly gay (according to the San Francisco Chronicle) federal judge substituting his views for those of the American people and of our Founding Fathers who I promise you would be shocked by courts that imagine they have the right to put gay marriage in our Constitution. We call on the Supreme Court and Congress to protect the people’s right to vote for marriage.”
Although Walker has never publicly commented about his sexual orientation, Gallagher and others point to a February 7, 2010 article in the San Francisco Chronicle, effectively “outing” the judge.
“Judge Walker should have recused himself from this case since he is a practicing homosexual,” wrote Bryan Fischer of the American Families Association. “His own personal sexual proclivities utterly compromised his ability to make an impartial ruling in this case.”
So the question for Gallagher and Fischer, et. al., is: If a gay judge who rules against Prop 8 must be biased, wouldn’t a heterosexual judge who rules for Prop 8 be just as biased?
“I think it’s profoundly offensive to suggest that a judge who is not of the sexual orientation of the majority or the race of the majority or the religion of the majority is unfit to hear cases,” said Larry Levine, a professor at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento.
Levine added that judges of all races and creeds are legally bound to render impartial verdicts, and that Walker’s only reverence in his ruling was to the law.
“Are they saying that an African American judge can never rule on an affirmative action case and a Muslim can never rule on a case dealing with religious expression? If you follow their logic, that’s exactly what they’re saying.”
Which goes back to the question of “rational basis” for Proposition 8 and Judge Walker’s ruling:
“The evidence at trial shows that gays and lesbians experience discrimination based on unfounded stereotypes and prejudices specific to sexual orientation. Gays and lesbians have historically been targeted for discrimination because of their sexual orientation; that discrimination continues to the present.”
The claim that only a gay judge’s ruling would be biased, but a straight judge’s ruling would not, is nothing more than the same fear and hate mongering discrimination that fueled Prop 8 to begin with.
How many witnesses will they call to the stand to prove this theory?
Walker, by the way, didn’t seek out the Proposition 8 case – it was assigned to him at random.