A federal judge in San Francisco has upheld last year’s ruling that struck down Proposition 8 – California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. Prop 8 supporters wanted the ruling thrown out because the judge who issued it hadn’t disclosed that he’s gay and in a long-term relationship with another man.
U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker didn’t publicly reveal his long-term gay relationship until after he retired from the bench in February. That was months after he’d struck down Prop 8. Attorneys for Prop 8 supporters claimed Walker should have taken himself off the case since it could benefit him and his same-sex partner. But in a 21-page ruling, federal judge James Ware concluded Walker had no obligation to reveal his relationship or recuse himself from the case challenging Prop 8’s constitutionality.
Judge Ware wrote that when the issue in a case is the right to marry, any benefit the decision might bring to the judge handling the case is “too attenuated to warrant recusal.” Ware said forcing a gay judge off a case about same-sex marriage was like forcing minority judges off “most if not all” civil rights cases. Ware said such a standard would be “unworkable.”