Challenge to U.S. gay judge's same-sex marriage ruling denied

10:46, June 15, 2011      

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A gay U.S. federal judge who overturned the state of California's same-sex marriage ban last year had no obligation to step aside from the case because of possible conflict of interest, another federal jurist ruled on Tuesday.

In the ruling, James Ware, Chief U.S. District Judge in San Francisco, said former Chief Judge Vaughn Walker was not obligated to disqualify himself from presiding over the case because of his own same-sex relationship.

Walker last year struck down Proposition 8, a California constitutional amendment approved by voters in November 2008 that banned same-sex marriage, ruling that the ban violated the constitutional rights to equal protection.

After Walker retired in February 2011, and while the appeal of his ruling was pending, a newspaper article reported that Walker was in a same-sex relationship at the time when he was presiding over the case.

Backers of the same-sex marriage ban argued that Walker should have removed himself from the case, because his same-sex relationship seemed to be an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the case.

"The sole fact that a federal judge shares the same circumstances or personal characteristics with other members of the general public, and that the judge could be affected by the outcome of a proceeding in the same way that other members of the general public would be affected, is not a basis for either recusal or disqualification," Ware said in Tuesday's ruling.

"It is not reasonable to presume that a judge is incapable of making an impartial decision about the constitutionality of a law, solely because, as a citizen, the judge could be affected by the proceedings," he wrote. Enditem

Source: Xinhua
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