Filing: Void gay judge's Prop. 8 ruling

April 26, 2011 at 8:52 AM   |   0 comments

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SAN FRANCISCO, April 26 (UPI) -- The judge who voided California's ban on same-sex marriage should have recused himself because he is gay and could benefit from his ruling, ban supporters said.

Proponents of California's Proposition 8, in a court filing Monday, said former Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's comments about his 10-year relationship, which he didn't reveal during the trial, demonstrated his "impartiality might reasonably have been questioned from the outset," the San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday.

"No man can be a judge in his own case," said Charles Cooper, lawyer for the opponents of same-sex marriage. Since Walker never ruled out the possibility that he would marry his partner, the former jurist had a "clear and direct stake in the outcome" of his own ruling, Cooper said.

The court filing asked the San Francisco district's new chief judge to set aside the decision declaring Prop. 8 unconstitutional because it discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation and gender. Walker's ruling also is being appealing to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Plaintiffs who challenged the ballot measure -- two same-sex couples, a gay rights group and the city of San Francisco -- scoffed at the request.

The filing was "another in a string of desperate and absurd motions by Prop. 8 proponents who refuse to accept the fact that the freedom to marry is a constitutional right," Chad Griffin, president of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, told the Chronicle. "They're attacking the judge because they disagree with his decision."

During the trial, the Chronicle disclosed Walker's sexual orientation, which he didn't discuss publicly or try to conceal. Walker, 67, retired in February. When meeting with reporters in April, Walker said he did not think his sexual orientation had any bearing on the case.

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