Motion Filed to Throw Out Walker Prop 8 Decision

Cites Judge’s Conflict of Interest
Long-Term Gay Relationship Similar to Plaintiffs’

SAN FRANCISCO, April 25, 2011-- This afternoon, attorneys for filed a motion asking the U.S. District Court to throw out former Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision invalidating Prop 8 on the grounds that Walker failed to disclose a long-term, same-sex relationship, and should have disqualified himself before trial.

Retired Judge Vaugh Walker Prop 8 decision motion to vacate
Retired Chief District Judge
Vaughn Walker

Previously, it became known that Judge Walker is himself gay. However, it is important to note that fact has nothing to do with this motion. A person's sexual orientation should not be a factor on whether a judge could be fair and impartial in such a case. However, things changed dramatically when Walker recently disclosed that he has been in a committed same-sex relationship for the last 10 years. His circumstances are not unlike those of the plaintiffs that filed the suit to have Prop 8 overturned.

According to the guidelines published for judges by the court, federal law not only requires a judge to disqualify him or herself whenever he or she is aware of any personal interest that could affect impartiality in the case, but also if there could be a question of impartiality from "the perspective of a reasonable person.”(emphasis added).

“The American people have a right to a fair judicial process, free from even the appearance of bias or prejudice,” said Andrew Pugno, general counsel for the official proponents of Prop 8. “He was obligated to either recuse himself or provide full disclosure of this relationship at the outset of the case. These circumstances demand setting aside his decision.”

The core issue presented in the Perry v. Brown (formerly Perry v Schwarzenegger) case is whether the U.S. Constitution requires marriage to be redefined to accommodate same-sex couples. To accomplish this, in his decision, Walker created a new definition of marriage as an institution for private interest or benefit of the parties. He then found that Prop 8 would disadvantage same-sex couples both economically and for not having the expression of their committed relationships publicly recognized as marriage. He found that more than 7 million voters were irrational for passing Prop 8 in 2008, which defined marriage as only between a man and a woman in the California Constitution.

“Under governing California law Judge Walker currently cannot marry his partner. But his ruling in this case, if ultimately upheld, would give him a right to do so,” Pugno pointed out. “We deeply regret the necessity of this motion. But if the courts are to require others to follow the law, the courts themselves must do so as well.”

We know that marriage is much more than the public recognition of a committed relationship for the private interest of adults as Judge Walker and many others contend. We know that marriage is a reality that unities a man and a woman with each other and any children born from their union. It is a reality that can only be recognized by the law and not changed.

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