Judge Rejects Prop 8 Appeal Over Retired Judge's Sexuality

By: Brian Shields - Tue, 14 Jun 2011 15:24:27 -0800

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) -- The judge hearing the challenge to Proposition Eight is rejecting efforts to get retired Judge Vaughn Walker's decision thrown out over his sexuality.

Supporters of the ban on same-sex marriage had argued the former judge was biased when he ruled the proposition violated the Constitution's equal protection clauses.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is still considering a larger effort to get the ruling thrown out.

California voters approved Prop 8 in November of 2008 defining marriage as only involving one man and one woman.

Judge James Ware rejected the Prop 8 supporters' contention that Judge Walker should have recused himself from the case because he was in a same-sex relationship.

"A well-informed, thoughtful observer would recognize that the mere fact that a judge is in a relationship with another person–whether of the same or the opposite sex–does not ipso facto imply that the judge must be so interested in marrying that person that he would be unable to exhibit the impartiality which, it is presumed, all federal judges maintain," Judge Ware wrote in his decision.

The judge ruled Judge Walker didn't need to reveal details about his personal life to the parties in the case.

"Defendant-Intervenors cite no case suggesting that a judge has a duty to disclose information about his personal life when such information does not pertain to the judge’s association with an individual having a clear, concrete stake in the outcome of the litigation, and the Court is not aware of any cases standing for that proposition." the ruling states.

The court also ruled that just because Judge Walker was in a same-sex relationship, that didn't impact his ability to serve fairly as a judge.

"Finally, the presumption that “all people in same-sex relationships think alike” is an unreasonable presumption, and one which has no place in legal reasoning," the ruling said.  "The presumption that Judge Walker, by virtue of being in a same-sex relationship, had a desire to be married that rendered him incapable of making an impartial decision, is as warrantless as the presumption that a female judge is incapable of being impartial in a case in which women seek legal relief. On the contrary: it is reasonable to presume that a female judge or a judge in a same-sex relationship is capable of rising above any personal predisposition and deciding such a case on the merits."

Stay tuned to KRON 4 and KRON4.com for comprehensive coverage of same-sex marriage in California.

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