A federal judge in California is
expected to decide Tuesday on whether to scrap the ruling of former
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker because he's gay.
Proponents of Proposition 8,
California's gay marriage ban, on Monday argued that Walker's August
ruling declaring the 2008 voter-approved amendment unconstitutional
should be tossed because Walker has since acknowledged that he's gay
and in a ten-year relationship with a physician. The San
Francisco Chronicle first reported on the rumor that Walker is
gay last February.
Lawyers for Protect Marriage, the
coalition of socially conservative groups defending the law, argued
that Walker should have recused himself because he's in a same-sex
relationship and stood to personally benefit from the verdict.
“It now appears that Judge Walker, at
the time the complaint was filed and throughout this litigation,
occupied precisely those same shoes as the plaintiffs,” attorney
Charles Cooper said.
Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware
didn't appear convinced by the argument that Walker's sexuality had
biased the judge.
“I'm asking you to tell me what fact
you would have the court rely on to suggest that Judge Walker wanted
to change, not maintain his relationship?” Ware asked.
Cooper conceded that he had no evidence
– “There has been no evidence that he has such an interest,” he
said at one point – but insisted Walker's silence on his
decade-long relationship during the trial created reasonable doubts
over the judge's impartiality.
Legal experts don't believe the
argument will gain much traction in 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.