Calif. Marriage Ban Supporters Want Gay Judge's Prop. 8 Ruling Thrown Out

Proponents of California's gay marriage ban filed an appeal Monday against a ruling that Judge Vaughn Walker didn't need to recuse himself from the Proposition 8 case because he is gay and in a relationship.

Walker, former U.S. district judge for the Northern District of California, last August struck down California's same-sex marriage ban, ruling it unconstitutional. In April, the 67-year-old judge announced to reporters after his retirement that he is gay. It also became known that he was in a 10-year relationship with his same-sex partner.

Supporters of the Prop. 8, a voter-approved amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman, asked a federal court to throw out Walker’s ruling on the marriage amendment, claiming that his sexuality and long-term gay relationship made him biased in the 2010 decision.

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Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware rejected those claims earlier this month, ruling that the fact that a judge shares the same "personal characteristics" with the public and could be affected by the outcome of the case was "not basis for either recusal or disqualification."

Attorneys for Prop. 8, including Andrew Pugno, filed their appeal on Ware's June 14th decision in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, the same court that is hearing an appeal on Walker's ruling.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is awaiting a ruling from the California Supreme Court to decide whether Proposition 8 proponents have the legal right to defend the marriage amendment in lieu of the governor and state's attorney general.

The state Supreme Court will likely decide the issue of standing by the end of this year.

Proposition 8 was passed by 52 percent of Californians in November 2008. Any state that has ever put the marriage issue before voters has always upheld traditional marriage.

On the Web: The appeal against Ware's ruling can be read here.

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