Judicial Open Secrets

Am I the only person on the planet who didn’t know that Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who is presiding over the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial over the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage, is widely known to be a gay man?

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote a story about it a week ago, and as with many things that I blog about, I have mixed feelings on the subject.

On the one hand, my inner news hound and gossip queen is intrigued by the revelation and stunned to discover that the judge in a landmark gay case is, in fact, gay. I can’t believe that this hasn’t surfaced sooner — and I would’ve expected that the defense, or at a minimum its supporters, would’ve raised Hell about the judge being a gay man.

So what did Andy Pugno, general counsel for the group that sponsored the Prop. 8 campaign, have to say about the fact that Judge Walker is gay? “We are not going to say anything about that.”

And that’s what my intellect wants me to focus on… This is a judge, like any other. He’s a learned man, with experience on the bench. He was assigned at random, not because he was gay. And while the defense has argued that the judge hasn’t been kind to their side, they’re not alleging that His Honor is being biased because of his sexuality.

The judge is, after all, the same man who represented the U.S. Olympic Committee in their lawsuit to stop the “San Francisco Gay Olympics” from using the name “Olympics” in their title, because the committee felt it could tarnish the name. The judge himself responded to a question about the case by saying, “Life is full of irony.”

He wouldn’t comment on whether being publicly characterized as being gay was concerning.

Maybe he’s got the right idea. As long as the mental process he follows when deliberating on his cases is sound, and his rulings are based on the principles of law and justice, then why should it matter?

And why do we need to know about his personal life, if it doesn’t interfere with his duties?

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