A federal appeals court on Thursday sounded skeptical of the argument that last year's ruling against California's gay marriage ban, Proposition 8, should be tossed out because the judge in the case did not disclose that he is gay and in a long-term relationship, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Protect Marriage, the coalition of mostly Christian conservative groups defending the law, argue that federal District Court Judge Vaughn Walker's August 2010 ruling overturning the 2008 voter-approved law should be invalidated because Walker has since acknowledged that he's gay and in a ten-year relationship with a male physician.

The 67-year-old Walker acknowledged his sexual orientation after he ruled on the case and has subsequently retired from the bench.

But the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals three-judge panel appeared unswayed by the argument.

“So a married judge could never hear a divorce?” asked Judge Michael Daly Hawkins.

“What about an unmarried heterosexual judge who wants to maintain the definition of marriage?” asked Judge N. Randy Smith, a Republican appointee. “Does he have to disclose that?”

Representing Protect Marriage, lawyer Charles J. Cooper said it would be “a dark day in American jurisprudence” if courts allowed a gay judge who wanted to marry to decide the issue.

“There is no case anywhere in American jurisprudence that says a judge who is a minority, because he is a minority, can sit on his own case,” Cooper told the judges.

Judge Hawkins observed that there was no proof that Walker wanted to marry, noting that Walker did not marry during the five months when gay marriage was legal in 2008.

The court, which is also reviewing an appeal on Walker's ruling, seemed inclined to rule in Protect Marriage's favor in its effort to keep videotapes of the Proposition 8 trial sealed.

The judges noted that Walker promised not to make the tapes public.

“[T]he word of the court is supposed to mean something,” said Judge Stephen Reinhardt.