Lawyers defending Proposition 8,
California's gay marriage ban, return to court Monday to ask a judge
to scrap the ruling of U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker because he's
Last August, Walker ruled that the 2008
voter-approved law was unconstitutional after presiding over a 13-day
trial in San Francisco.
In April – three months into his
retirement from the bench – Walker acknowledged that he's gay and
in a ten-year relationship with a physician, confirming for the first
time reports published in February.
Lawyers for Protect Marriage, the
coalition of socially conservative groups defending the law, have
asked Chief Judge James Ware to set aside Walker's ruling striking
down the law. They argue that Walker should have recused himself
because he's in a same-sex relationship.
“If at any time while this case was
pending before him, Chief Judge Walker and his partner determined
that they desired, or might desire, to marry, Chief Judge Walker
plainly had an interest that could be substantially affected by the
outcome of the proceeding,” lawyers wrote.
Andrew Pugno, general counsel for
Protect Marriage, also railed against Walker in a statement.
“The American people have a right to
a fair judicial process, free from even the appearance of bias or
prejudice. Judge Walker's ten-year-long same-sex relationship
creates the unavoidable impression that he was not the impartial
judge the law requires. He was obligated to either recuse himself or
provide full disclosure of this relationship at the outset of the
case. These circumstances demand setting aside his decision.”
Legal experts don't believe the
argument will gain much traction in Judge Ware's chamber.
Chad Griffin, president of the American
Foundation for Equal Rights, the group formed specifically to support
the case, called the claim “desperate and absurd.”
“They're attacking the judge because
they disagree with his decision,” Griffin told POLITICO.com.
Others have noted that Walker and his
partner did have the opportunity to marry in 2008 before voters
overturned a California Supreme Court decision legalizing the
institution but chose not to.