A federal judge has rejected the argument by supporters of California’s gay marriage ban that U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker — who ruled the ban unconstitutional — was biased because he is gay.
“It is not reasonable to presume that a judge is incapable of making an impartial decision about the constitutionality of a law, solely because, as a citizen, the judge could be affected by the proceedings,” U.S. District Judge James Ware wrote in his ruling Tuesday.
Supporters of Proposition 8, California’s ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriages, filed a motion in April to vacate Walker’s ruling after he confirmed that he is gay and has a same-sex partner.
Walker had ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional in August of last year because it “fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.”
In the motion, the “Yes On 8” campaign argued that Walker should have recused himself because he may someday want to get married, which goes against “the judiciary’s strict fidelity to the ancient maxim that ‘no man can be a judge in his own case and no man is permitted to try cases where he has an interest in the outcome.’”
“Given that Chief Judge Walker was in a committed, long-term, same-sex relationship
throughout this case (and for many years before the case commenced),” the filing said, “it is clear that his ‘impartiality might reasonably [have been] questioned’ from the outset’.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that Ware declared in his ruling:
The mere fact that a judge is in a relationship with another person — whether of the same sex 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.
Prop 8 supporters have also appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, where a ruling is pending.
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