Sunday, February 07, 2010

Will Judge Being Gay Remain a Nonissue?

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, hearing the federal challenge to California’s Proposition 8, and about to rule on the first federal trial to decide the constitutionality of a gay marriage ban, is gay. Judge Walker didn't seek out the Prop. 8 case - it was assigned to him at random.

Now, what if the judge decides that Prop. 8 is unconstitutional? Will the supporters of the measure make an issue of the judge's sexual orientation? They say no, but we'll see.

Many gay politicians in San Francisco and lawyers who have had dealings with Walker say the 65-year-old jurist, appointed to the bench by President George H.W. Bush in 1989, has never taken pains to disguise - or advertise - his orientation.

They also don't believe it will influence how he rules on the case he's now hearing - whether Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure approved by state voters to ban same-sex marriage, unconstitutionally discriminates against gays and lesbians.

"There is nothing about Walker as a judge to indicate that his sexual orientation, other than being an interesting factor, will in any way bias his view," said Kate Kendell, head of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which is supporting the lawsuit to overturn Prop. 8.

As evidence, she cites the judge's conservative - albeit libertarian - reputation, and says, "There wasn't anyone who thought (overturning Prop. 8) was a cakewalk given his sexual orientation."

State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who has sponsored two bills to authorize same-sex marriage that were vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said that as far as he's concerned, Walker's background is a nonissue. "It seems curious to me," he said, that when the state Supreme Court heard a challenge to Prop. 8, the justices' sexual orientation "was never discussed."


Pete66,  17:48  

Walker’s orientation is an open secret, therefore not much of a surprise to those involved in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger case.

But, now that his sexuality has been confirmed for the general public, it will be a key element to the appeal. Shouldn't work that way, but unfortunately it does.

Pete66 17:56  

Check this out

"Can you "out" someone who isn't in the closet? As the Chron story itself noted, Walker never took pains to conceal his sexuality. And any derision tossed the paper's way has to come with the caveat that the Chron is only factually confirming what others had publicly speculated about."

Roth's stepchild 19:23  

Thanks for the article!!

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