Court panel doubts same-sex ban lawyers' argument

Proponents of California's gay marriage ban will appeal the a judge's ruling on Friday. / WNWO archive

Gay rights activists got a major victory when a federal judge overturned a voter initiative banning same-sex marriage in California in 2010. Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that it violated the Constitution's equal protection and due process rights clauses.

However, The Boston Globe reports sponsors of the gay marriage ban renewed their effort to overturn the ruling on Thursday, citing the judge's sexual orientation as grounds for their appeal. Lawyers said Judge Walker should not have decided the constitutionality of the ban because he did not disclose information about his male partner and his interest in getting married.

"In May 2009, when Judge Walker read the allegations of the complaint, he knew something the litigants and the public did not know: He knew that he, too, like the plaintiffs, was a gay resident of California who was involved in a long-term, serious relationship with an individual of the same sex," attorney Charles Cooper told the Globe. "The litigants did not have any knowledge of these facts, and it appears that Judge Walker made the deliberate decision not to disclose these facts."

But the three-judge appeals court panel wasn't buying the argument, bringing up a hypothetical situation where a married and straight judge against same-sex marriage would have to admit to their views if gay judges must disclose their orientation for the case.

"So a married judge could never hear a divorce?" Judge R. Randy Smith asked.

The lawyer representing the gay couple who sued against Proposition 8 also said ethical rules have never prohibited a judge whose minority status could be impacted by the constitutional rights in question from ruling in the civil rights case.

The appeals court panel does not have a decision deadline and may take several more weeks.

Could this small win strike down Proposition 8 or does the appeals court have more work ahead of them before making a decision? Do you you think gays will ever be able to get married in Ohio? Sound off below or at our Facebook page.