An activist attorney is challenging the claim that the reported homosexual lifestyle of the judge deciding the constitutionality of California’s limitation of marriage to one man and one woman is a “nonissue.”
The San Francisco Chronicle reported politicians and lawyers in the city who have dealt with U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker confirmed Walker has never tried to promote or hide his orientation.
The newspaper said a state senator, Mark Leno, who has proposed several times the authorization of same-sex “marriage,” described the judge’s background as a nonissue.
Matt Barber, director of cultural affairs with Liberty Counsel, disagrees.
“This is no different than having an avid gun collector preside over a Second Amendment case,” he said today, “or a frequent user of medical marijuana deciding the legality of medical marijuana.”
“Even his fellow judges on the notoriously liberal 9th circuit have been forced to step in and overturn more than one of his inexplicable rulings relative to this case. Based on his demonstrated misbehavior, there’s no reason to believe anything will change,” Barber said.
The case is petitioning a federal court to overturn not just a law, but a constitutional amendment passed by the people and affirmed by the state’s Supreme Court. A victory for same-sex marriage advocates in the case could set a precedent for federal courts to overturn every law and amendment in the country currently protecting the traditional definition of marriage.
The law is being defended by private attorneys, because California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown, both of whom are named as defendants in the suit, have refused to defend the amendment.
Last summer, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California verified Brown’s abandonment of the case, permitting quick-acting attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of ProtectMarriage.com, the group that sponsored the amendment campaign, to intervene and take up the defense.
At the time, ADF-allied attorney Andrew Pugno stated, “This ruling designating us to defend Proposition 8 reflects the unfortunate fact that, if left up to state officials, the will of the people would not be defended at all.”
ADF Senior Counsel Brian Raum said in a statement released this week that the case “is as much about whether our government is of, by, and for the people as it is about marriage.”
“Just imagine how it would change our democracy if every state constitutional amendment could be eliminated by small groups of wealthy activists,” he said. “It would no longer be America, but a tyranny of elitists.”
ADF points out that the lawsuit, originally brought by two men and two women in same-sex relationships, has been backed by Hollywood-area public relations firm that frequently represents celebrities and their causes.
“At worst, Judge Walker’s continued involvement with this case presents a textbook conflict of interest,” Barber said. “At best, it objectively illustrates the unseemly appearance of a conflict. If Judge Walker somehow divines from thin air that the framers of the U.S. Constitution actually intended that Patrick Henry had a ‘constitutional right’ to marry Henry Patrick, then who among us will be surprised?
“The revelation that Judge Walker apparently chooses to engage in homosexual conduct, if true, would explain much of his bizarre behavior throughout this trial,” continued Barber. “At every turn he’s displayed extreme bias in favor of his similarly situated homosexual activist plaintiffs. These individuals have eschewed the democratic process and seek to employ like-minded judicial activists to radically redefine the millennia-old definition of natural marriage. ”
He noted Walker “violated federal rules” by deciding the trial should be broadcast and was rebuked on appeal.
“Unfortunately, the damage was already done,” said Barber. “Prop 8 supporters lost around two-thirds of expert witnesses who, naturally – based on homosexuals’ violent reaction to passage of Prop 8 – feared for their own safety and for that of family members.”
Barber said Walker also previously ordered Prop. 8 supporters to disclose private communications, work product and e-mails – even while allowing the other side to keep the same materials secret.
“Any decision favoring plaintiffs in this case will be permanently marred and universally viewed as stemming from Judge Walker’s personal biases and alleged lifestyle choices. For these reasons, and in the interest of justice, Judge Walker should do the honorable thing and immediately recuse himself,” Barber said.
The Chronicle cited support for the judge from Kate Kendell of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
“There is nothing about Walker as a judge to indicate that his sexual orientation, other than being an interesting factor, will in any way bias his view,” she told the newspaper.
The San Francisco paper reported the judge not only has declined to respond to questions about the case, he’s also responded with “no comment” to questions about his sexual orientation.
A Chronicle source who asked not to be identified said the judge “has a private life and he doesn’t conceal it, but doesn’t think it is relevant to his decisions in any case.”