Prop. 8 ban supporters argue that judge's gay relationship makes him unfit

Tue. April 26, 2011 11:36 PM by News Staff

San Francisco - Supporters of California's Prop. 8 ban on gay marriage filed a motion this week saying the judge who ruled against them had a personal conflict: he's in a long-term relationship with another man.

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's sexual orientation was an open secret during the trial in San Francisco. Walker eventually ruled that the ban was unconstitutional. He confirmed that he is gay in an interview earlier this month, but argued that it was a non-issue.

"If you thought a judge's sexuality, ethnicity, national origin or gender would prevent the judge from handling a case, that's a very slippery slope," he said.

But supporters of Prop. 8 said in their motion, filed on Monday, that it's not his sexual orientation that is at issue. It's the fact that he stands to benefit -- personally -- if the ban on gay marriage is overturned.

"We are not suggesting that a gay or lesbian judge could not sit on this case. Simply stated, under governing California law, Chief Judge Walker currently cannot marry his partner, but his decision in this case ... would give him a right to do so," the motion said.