Prop 8 judge is gay

Posted on 08 Feb 2010 at 1:03pm
Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker
Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker

San Francisco Chronicle columnists Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross on Sunday “outed” Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker as a gay man. Walker, by the way, is the jurist who will, in the next few weeks, be issuing a ruling on whether California’s Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage in that state violates the U.S. Constitution.

In their article, Matier and Ross said Walker’s orientation is “the biggest open secret” in the Prop 8 lawsuit, and that gay lawyers and politicians in San Francisco don’t think the judge’s personal orientation will have any effect on his ruling. (Hmmm. Big surprise there. Surely Matier and Ross didn’t expect the gays to say the fact that the judge is gay gives the plaintiffs in the case an advantage, did they?)

But if the plaintiffs — the folks challenging Prop 8 — win, you can be DAMN SURE the defendants are going to make a big deal out of the fact that Walker is gay. And what if the defendants will in Walker’s court? What will the gay folks say about a gay judge that ruled against them? Apparently, Walker already has some experience with that: As Matier and Ross point out, he had to fight the reputation of being anti-gay when he was trying to get to be a judge because back in the 1980s, he successfully represented the U.S. Olympic Committee in a lawsuit to keep the San Francisco Gay Games from using the name “Gay Olympics.”

The columnists also point out that the case was assigned to Walker; he didn’t “seek it out,” and that he was appointed to the bench by President George H.W. Bush, someone not seen as particularly gay-friendly.

So, what do you think? Is it an advantage for gay marriage supporters that the judge hearing the case is gay? Or is it a hidden pitfall that will work against the gay marriage cause in the long run?

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