Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Another Step Forward for Equality


A federal judge on Tuesday refused to invalidate last year's ruling against Proposition 8, deciding the gay jurist who overturned the same-sex marriage ban had no obligation to step aside because of a possible conflict of interest.

The decision by Chief Judge James Ware of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco left the ruling by retired Judge Vaughn R. Walker in place. Walker’s decision remains on hold pending a separate appeal to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Proponents of Proposition 8 argued that Walker's conflict was not his sexual orientation, but the fact that he was in a serious same-sex relationship that could conceivably lead to marriage.

Walker, a Republican appointee, has never said publicly whether he wished to marry his partner. But he told reporters that he never considered his sexual orientation grounds for declining to preside over the Proposition 8 challenge.

"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," Ware wrote in his ruling.

The judge said all Californians share an interest in having the the Constitution enforced. The "single interest" Walker shared with the same-sex couples who challenged Proposition 8 "gave him no greater interest in a proper decision on the merits that would exist for any other judge or citizen," Ware wrote.

So Judge Walker's ruling was supposed to be invalidated because he's gay, according to the defenders of bigotry? Shouldn't they also then argue that straight folks shouldn't rule on marriage equality, either? So I guess that would leave us with either "Judge Lassie" or "Judge Flipper".

It's nice to see the courts recognize the obvious. Let's hope Judge Walker's ruling continues to stand and we'll one day see the end of this kind of hurtful discrimination.

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