Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Ruling on decision to invalidate Prop 8 ban on gay marriage: gay judge Vaughn Walker had no conflict of interest
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that federal Judge James Ware of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco has ruled that Judge Vaughn R. Walker had no obligation to recuse himself because a possible conflict of interest, which Proposition 8 proponents argued stemmed not from his homosexuality but because he was in a serious same-sex relationship that could conceivably lead to marriage.
Ware ruled that it wasn't reasonable to assume that Walker had so great an interest in marrying his boyfriend that he was incapable of performing his judicial duties.
Ware also suggested that Walker's failure to disclose his same-sex relationship prior to his ruling could simply have meant that he had considered the situation and decided that no reasonable observer would conclude that his impartiality was questionable: "Silence is by its very nature ambiguous and thus is open to multiple interpretation."
Chad Griffin, the founder of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which funded the Prop 8 challenge, said Ware's ruling "sent a powerful message that extreme fringe groups cannot strong-arm the law."
Peter Renn, a Lambda Legal attorney, said "Prop. 8 was declared unconstitutional because it is unconstitutional — not because the judge is gay."