Decision Might Come Tuesday on Walker's Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Monday's hearing included a discussion on Judge Vaughn Walker's marital intentions

By Jonathan Lloyd
|  Tuesday, Jun 14, 2011  |  Updated 1:20 PM PDT
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Decision Expected on Walker's Prop 8 Ruling

Vaughn Walker

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A judge said he hoped to reach a decision Tuesday after hearing arguments regarding his predecessor's ruling that struck down California's same-sex marriage ban.

Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware said he would issue a decision within 24 hours after Monday's hearing.

Attorneys for a group that backed Prop 8 -- California's voter-approved same-sex marriage ban -- said former Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling should be overturned because he failed to divulge his own marital intentions before throwing out the voter-approved measure.

Walker was chief judge of the Northern District of California at the time. Attorneys for Prop 8 supporters said he and his partner stood to personally benefit from the verdict.

"It now appears that Judge Walker, at the time the complaint was filed and throughout this litigation, occupied precisely those same shoes as the plaintiffs,'' attorney Charles Cooper said Monday.

Ware asked Cooper why he assumed Walker, who had been in a long-term relationship with a man, had any intention of getting married.

Cooper conceded he did not know Walker's outlook on marriage. He insisted the judge's failure to reveal the relationship until 10 months after his ruling made his silence suspect and his marriage plans an appropriate subject of inquiry.

A lengthy back-and-forth followed.

"So if a reasonable person thought a black judge should recuse himself from a civil rights case, that would be enough?" Ware asked.

Cooper replied, "No, your honor. A reasonable person would not consider that black judge, any more than a white judge, for that reason alone someone biased or impartial."

"I agree with you,'' Ware said. "Our test of reasonableness in our country will not allow us to discriminate on the basis of race, gender or sexual orientation."

A legal team representing the two gay couples who filed the lawsuit against Proposition 8 also made arguments Monday.

"Just because people are gay and lesbian and in a relationship doesn't mean they are all alike,'' attorney Theodore Boutrous said. "(Cooper) is just engaging in this stereotyping that everyone is the same. There is no evidence that Judge Walker intended to get married. None.''

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