Judge rules on Prop. 8 judge's recusal

June 13, 2011 at 6:10 PM
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SAN FRANCISCO, June 13 (UPI) -- A federal judge heard arguments in San Francisco Monday to decide if the gay judge hearing California Proposition 8 case should have recused himself.

U.S. District Chief Judge James Ware, who is hearing the request put forth by backers of Prop 8, said he will try to hand down a ruling within 24 hours on whether now-retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker should have stepped aside when he was assigned to preside over the ballot challenge, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Proposition 8, titled the California Marriage Act, passed in November 2008. The measure added a provision to the California Constitution, declaring "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

On Aug. 4, 2010, Walker overturned Proposition 8 in the case of Perry vs. Schwarzenegger, ruling it violated both the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

"This is the first case where a same-sex relationship is the subject for disqualifying a judge, so it is important that we treat it seriously and get it right," Ware said.

Protect Marriage, the organization behind Proposition 8, went to court with the challenge after Walker went public in April about his 10-year gay relationship, alleging the judge's partnership amounted to a conflict of interest Walker should have disclosed.

Charles Cooper, an attorney for Protect Marriage, said Walker stood "in the same shoes" as the two gay couples who sued to overturn Proposition 8.

Ware questioned the logic, the newspaper said.

"You can be in a long-term relationship without being in it for the purposes of marriage, right?" the judge asked.

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