Judge Vaughn Walker
An attempt to reverse a gay judge’s ruling that California’s Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional has been rejected.
Opponents of same-sex marriage rights had claimed that because now-retired Judge Vaughn Walker is himself gay and in a same-sex relationship, his ruling in August last year must be reversed as he should have been recused from the case.
On Tuesday, US District Court Judge James Ware ruled on the matter, dismissing the complaint.
He said that the “sole fact that a federal judge shares the same circumstances or personal characteristics with other members of the general public, and that the judge could be affected by the outcome of a proceeding in the same way that other members of the general public would be affected, is not a basis for either recusal or disqualification”.
Ware added: “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…”
The Prop 8 supporters behind the case are considering their options in possibly appealing the ruling.
LGBT rights groups, on the other hand, welcomed Ware’s decision.
“The motion was a sideshow designed to deflect attention from the fact that the proponents had every chance to prove that Prop 8 was constitutional, but could not do so,” said Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Peter Renn.
“Prop 8 was declared unconstitutional because it is unconstitutional – not because the judge is gay.”
Walker came out in April after retiring from the bench, telling reporters that he has been in a ten-year relationship with a male doctor.