Impartiality of 'Outed' Prop 8 Judge Assured

Two days after "outing" the federal judge who will be ruling on California's key gay marriage case, San Francisco's largest newspaper emphasized Tuesday that Vaughn Walker of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has a "proven record of impartiality."

"Vaughn Walker almost lost his chance to reach the federal bench because of claims that he was anti-gay and hostile to civil rights," the San Francisco Chronicle's editors stated in an editorial dated for Tuesday.

"Back then, Walker struggled to assure skeptical liberals that, as a judge, he could rule with impartiality even though he had represented the U.S. Olympic Committee in its successful effort to prevent an athletic competition in San Francisco from being called the Gay Olympic Games," they added, reiterating notes made in the original article.

Today, it's the conservatives who might be skeptical of Walker's impartiality as the chief U.S. District judge considers how to rule on the case against California's voter-approved marriage definition.

But conservatives have remained largely quiet on the issue, which the Chronicle introduced as a "non-issue" when it revealed Sunday the "biggest open secret in the landmark trial over same-sex marriage" – that Vaughn Walker is himself gay.

Andy Pugno, general counsel for the group that sponsored the Proposition 8 campaign, told the paper, "We are not going to say anything about that."

He did, however, claim that Prop 8 backers haven't gotten a fair shake from Walker in court.

"In many ways, the sponsors of Prop 8 have been put at significant disadvantage throughout the case," Pugno said. "Regardless of the reason for it."

With testimonies in the Prop 8 case having wrapped up the week before last, the plaintiffs and defense are now looking toward Feb. 26 – when they'll meet again in court to arrange the dates for delivery of closing arguments.

A decision will be rendered by Walker some time after.

Regardless of how Walker rules, the decision is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which could end up determining whether gay Americans have a right to marry.

At the heart of the case is Prop 8, which was passed by California voters in 2008 by a 52 percent vote, effectively defining marriage in the state's constitution as the union of one man and one woman.

The trial in San Francisco seeks to determine whether gay marriage is a constitutional right and, in effect, whether the passing of Prop 8 violates that right.

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