SAN FRANCISCO – Supporters of Proposition 8, the voter-approved law that took away marriage equality in California, have filed an appeal of a district judge’s ruling that a judge’s sexual orientation is no basis for overturning his decision that the law was unconstitutional.
Last year, then Chief District Judge Vaughn Walker found that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. That decision was then appealed by supporters of Proposition 8 to the Ninth Court Circuit of Appeals, which has heard the case and is currently awaiting a ruling by the California Supreme Court on the matter of whether the litigants in the appeal have legal “standing.”
Earlier this month, Chief District Judge James Ware swiftly ruled against a motion by Proposition 8 supporters to toss out Judge Walker’s historic ruling because he did not disclose that he was gay and in a long-term relationship. For the record, San Diego Gay & Lesbian News and other media had reported that Judge Walker is gay, making that information widely known, so the argument by Proposition 8 supporters appeared extremely flimsy – and Judge Ware agreed.
Judge Ware rejected the attorneys’ claim that gay judges are incapable of impartiality, and disputed the argument that Judge Walker may have ruled against Proposition 8 because he wanted to get married to his long-term partner. To read Judge Ware’s full ruling, click HERE.
Late last week, as the eyes of the world were watching the dramatic vote in the New York Senate that approved a bill that will legalize same-sex marriage starting July 24, attorneys for ProtectMarriage.com filed the appeal of Judge Ware’s ruling.
“It is disappointing that the proponents of Proposition 8 continue their unfounded attack on former Chief Judge Walker, and this is just the latest sign of their desperation. Chief Judge Ware correctly recognized that a gay or lesbian judge is entitled to the same presumption of fairness and impartiality as all other federal judges, not the presumption of bias urged by proponents. We are confident that the denial of proponents' unfortunate motion will be affirmed,” said Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., counsel for the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), which is challenging Proposition 8.
The Proposition 8 supporters are also attempting to prevent the release of the videotapes from the Judge Walker trial, but Judge Ware has not ruled on that motion.
“Desperately clinging to whatever life raft they can, the anti-marriage forces behind Prop. 8 have tried repeatedly to get our victory thrown out. With this appeal, they have once again revealed the same animus they showed during their anti-gay political campaign to pass Prop 8,” said Chad Griffin, AFER board president. “They will stop at nothing to deny gay and lesbian Americans the freedom to marry.”
Matthew McGill, who represents two same-sex couples who sued over Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage, told Reuters that this latest appeal is part of a “smear campaign” against Judge Walker.
"The only thing surprising about this development is doing so in the face of such a well-reasoned opinion" (by Judge Ware), McGill said.
It is also clear that Proposition 8 supporters are using litigation to prolong the decision-making process in the case, and thus keeping same-sex marriage in legal limbo.