SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – The retired federal judge who struck down California’s ban on same-sex marriage said he saw no reason to step down from the case because he is gay.
Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker retired in February, several months after his landmark decision that’s being challenged in an appeals court.
Walker told reporters Wednesday that he never considered recusing himself from the case because he believes his sexual orientation was irrelevant in deciding the constitutionality of Proposition 8. It was the first time that Walker confirmed longtime rumors that he’s gay.
“I don’t think it’s relevant. I never thought it was appropriate to recuse myself from that case,” former U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said.
“It would not be a positive development if you thought a judge’s sexuality, ethnicity, national origin or gender would prevent a judge from handling a case,” he said. “That would be a slippery slope.”
In August, Walker ruled that Proposition 8 approved by voters violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection.
The sponsors of the initiative are seeking to appeal that ruling before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
CBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier said Walker’s candid remarks to reporters Wednesday about sexual orientation ended months of speculation unleashed by news reports during the Prop 8 trial that Walker is gay.
KCBS And Chronicle Insider Phil Matier:
At the time of a non-jury trial on the case in January 2010, Walker publicly neither confirmed nor denied being gay.
Walker, 67, retired from the San Francisco-based U.S. District Court for Northern California in February after more than 21 years on the court, including six years as chief judge. A Republican and former business lawyer, he was appointed in 1989 by President George H.W. Bush.
During his meeting with court reporters, Walker also commented on his support of allowing cameras in federal courtrooms and on other cases he presided over on issues ranging from national-security wiretapping to computer interface copyrights.
Walker announced he is setting up a private practice focused on alternative dispute resolution procedures such as mediation.
(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)