(Photo: Reuters/Robert Galbraith)
There is yet another court challenge in the politically charged case of same-sex marriage in California as lawyers this week filed a motion to have U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision on Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that banned gay marriage, vacated because Walker kept it secret that he was in a “long term” homosexual relationship.
Court records state that Walker, who ruled it unconstitutional to keep the voter-approved ban known as Proposition 8 on the books, should be disqualified from deciding anything in this particular same-sex marriage case because of his long-term partner of the same sex.
Attorneys representing Prop 8 supporters state in the motion that the length of Walker's homosexual relationship causes extreme bias.
The attorneys blame the lower federal courts for deciding that Walker’s involvement in a homosexual relationship was not relevant to the same-sex marriage case. Court documents state lower federal courts ruled Walker was “able to fairly preside over such matters."
The motion was filed in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco late Monday.
Lawyers also claim they discovered new evidence that reveals two-thirds of all unmarried couples who are in a long-term relationship usually end up getting married if same-sex marriage unions are legal in their state of residence, a court clerk in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals told The Christian Post.
Court documents say, "Given that Judge Vaughn Walker is in a long-term, same-sex relationship throughout this case, and was for many years before the case commenced, he was, in Plaintiffs' own words, ‘similarly situated,’ like the Plaintiffs in the case..., it is entirely possible, indeed, it is quite likely... that Judge Vaughn Walker has an interest in marrying his partner and therefore stood in precisely the same situation as the Plaintiffs in this case did who are before him now.”
The Associated Press reports, “Walker's successor, Chief Judge James Ware, said the presumption that Walker could not be unbiased was as warrantless as the presumption that a female judge is incapable of being impartial in a case in which women seek legal relief.”
Legal scholars say the upcoming decision has wide implications for any group supporting a ban on same-sex marriage.
The appeals court must basically decide whether or not Walker’s ruling that says the Prop 8 “ban violates the rights of gay Californians” will stand.
Walker said in his original ruling that Prop 8 opponents "demonstrated by overwhelming evidence that it violates due process and equal-protection rights under the U.S. Constitution," according to court documents.
"Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license," Walker wrote in the conclusion of his 136-page opinion.
He continued to say, “the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional,” according to court documents.
The upcoming court hearing will also decide whether supporters of an initiative like Prop 8 could challenge a judge's decision if state leaders did not – a technical yet crucial legal issue in the closely watched gay marriage case.
The attorneys representing those that back Prop 8 wrote they did not suggest that gay or lesbian judges could never preside over cases involving gay rights questions, according to AP.
"We know of no reason to believe, for example, that Judge Walker would have any personal interest in the outcome of litigation over, say, the constitutionality of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy," they said as quoted by AP.
Supporters of Prop 8, which California voters passed 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent in November 2008 after one of the most expensive ballot-measure campaigns in U.S. history, expressed confidence on some of the supporter websites that they would ultimately prevail in the appeal.
“Proposition 8 has been under full legal assault in both state and federal courts by homosexual activists seeking to overturn it since the day it passed,” according to Protect Marriage’s website.
“The Proposition 8 Legal Defense Fund is raising funds necessary to defend against all of these legal challenges. Significant Hollywood funding has hired nationally acclaimed attorneys and funneled millions of dollars into these legal attacks against traditional marriage and Proposition 8.”