Hey, did you hear the one about the judge who ruled against Proposition 8 in California being a homo? And how his ruling shouldn’t count because he’s gay? LOL, am I right?
Actually, the idea that a gay judge can’t be trusted to make a ruling on a case that impacts gay people is ridiculous. But that’s the very argument proponents of Prop. 8, California’s 2008 antigay marriage amendment, are continuing to make about U.S. Chief Judge Vaughn Walker, who struck down the amendment as unconstitutional.
“Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license,” Walker wrote in his opinion.
Naturally, supporters of Prop. 8 weren’t particularly happy with this ruling. But when it became known that Walker was not only gay but also had been in a 10-year relationship with a man, Prop. 8ers went absolutely apoplectic.
“But, but, but … he’s one of them,” they stammered. “Walker is nothing but a secret gay soldier in the war against marriage! He must be stopped!”
Prop. 8 proponents believe that Walker is an activist judge of the worst kind — the kind that doesn’t rule in their favor.
As far as Prop. 8 supporters see it, Walker’s ruling is nothing but a blatant display of self-interest. You see, only heterosexuals should be allowed to decide whether or not gays and lesbians are allowed to marry.
And so Prop. 8 supporters have asked a federal judge to vacate Walker’s ruling because Walker doesn’t count as a real judge since he’s a homo and homo judges should only be able to rule on non-homo cases.
Keep in mind that Chief Judge James Ware, who replaced Walker after Walker retired, already ruled that Walker’s ruling is fine and not at all invalid because of his sexual orientation, essentially telling the Prop. 8 folks where to go.
Ware said that claims that Walker couldn’t be trusted to rule on cases involving LGBT issues was “as warrantless as the presumption that a female judge is incapable of being impartial in a case in which women seek legal relief.”
This, of course, only led Prop. 8 folks to claim that two judges were wrong. And apparently they’re going to keep on searching until they find a judge who has an answer they like.
In an effort to counter arguments such as Ware’s, the Prop. 8 team is claiming that they don’t think gay and lesbian judges aren’t ever fit to rule in LGBT-related cases — just not ones that directly impact their lives. “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 claim. “ Nor would there be any issue with a gay or lesbian judge hearing this case so long as a reasonable person, knowing all of the relevant facts and circumstances, would not have reason to believe that the judge has a personal interest in marrying if Plaintiffs prevailed.”
In other words, since Walker was in a 10-year relationship, he probably wants to get married, which means his ruling is really just a glitzy high-profile marriage proposal clearly meant to show up the heteros who rely on their local sports stadium’s jumbo-tron or a banner-pulling airplane to pop the question.
An obvious red flag here is the term “reasonable person,” since antigay-marriage foes don’t seem to be the best judges of what a “reasonable person” is. It does not seem particularly reasonable to me to fight tooth and nail to keep civil rights away from a certain group of people arguing that marriage is yours and you’ll be damned if you’re going to share that institution with any queers.
Or, in the case of Prop. 8ers vs. Judge Walker, let a queer tell you no.
D’Anne Witkowski has been gay for pay since 2003. She’s a freelance writer and poet (believe it!). When she’s not taking on the creeps of the world, she reviews rock ’n’ roll shows in Detroit with her twin sister.