Gay Marriage Opponents Fail in California Court Bid

Gay judge didn't need to recuse himself on Prop 8, says ruling
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2011 6:53 PM CDT
Gay Marriage Opponents Fail in California Court Bid
A file photo of retired Judge Vaughn R. Walker.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

A victory for gay marriage in California today: The judge who overturned the state's ban last year was under no obligation to recuse himself because he is gay and in a long-term relationship, a federal judge ruled. "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," wrote the judge.

Opponents of gay marriage had argued that the now-retired Vaughn Walker should not have been allowed to decide the legality of Prop 8 because he had a personal stake in the outcome, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. No dice, said today's ruling. That logic would require "recusal of minority judges in most, if not all, civil rights cases," wrote James Ware, chief judge of US District Court in San Francisco. A separate appeal of the Prop 8 ruling is still pending in federal court, notes the Los Angeles Times. (More gay marriage stories.)

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