After a columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle claimed that Judge Vaughn Walker is gay, some religious groups are clamoring that he recuse himself from presiding over the federal trial for Proposition 8.
Several groups opposed to gay rights have issued statements that a homosexual justice constitutes an unacceptable bias in a case over California's ban on gay marriage.
“The revelation that Judge Walker apparently chooses to engage in homosexual conduct, if true, would explain much of his bizarre behavior throughout this trial,” said Matt Barber in a press release from Liberty Counsel, a non-profit religious and political organization.
Barber referred to Walker's decision to broadcast video from the trial online as an example of the "circus-like atmosphere" he has created, though that decision was overturned later.
Shortly after Prop 8's passage in November 2008, Barber wrote a column titled "Counterfeit marriage and its counterfeit movement," praising African-Americans for voting against "the sin that dare not speak its name."
In a letter addressed "Dear Friend of Marriage," National Organization for Marriage Director Brian Brown accuses Walker of "egregious and damaging" bias.
"We have no idea whether the report is true or not," Brown said. "But we do know one really big important fact about Judge Walker: He's been an amazingly biased and one-sided force throughout this trial, far more akin to an activist than a neutral referee. That's no secret at all."
The San Francisco Chronicle released several columns arguing that Walker should be allowed to stay on the bench during the trial. In an editorial titled "Gay judge has proven record of impartiality," the editors point out:
Vaughn Walker almost lost his chance to reach the federal bench because of claims that he was anti-gay and hostile to civil rights. Two dozen House Democrats, led by Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, opposed his nomination because of his alleged "insensitivity" to gays and the poor.
"I hope the plaintiffs win and that Walker rules that the same-sex marriage ban violates their constitutional rights," Marcus said. "At the same time, I've got to acknowledge: If I were on the side supporting the ban and found it struck down by a supposedly gay judge, I'd have some questions about whether the judicial deck had been stacked from the start."