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SF Chronicle Outs Judge Walker
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Judge Vaughn Walker, the presiding judge in the trial over California’s Prop 8, has been outed by the San Francisco Chronicle.  “The biggest open secret in the landmark trial over same-sex marriage being heard in San Francisco is that the federal judge who will decide the case, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, is himself gay”, says a column in Sunday’s edition.

It may have been an open secret in some circles, but for much of the country it will come as a surprise to find out that the judge presiding over a trial to determine the constitutionality of an initiative to ban gay marriage is himself gay.  Judge Walker has refused to confirm or deny the story, and in fact has been viewed in the past with distrust by the gay and lesbian community for work he did as an attorney for the US Olympic Committee in challenging the Gay Olympics’ use of the trademarked word “Olympics”.

The question now is, assuming he is in fact gay, will that affect his decision in the case?

  
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We are all colored by the events that compose our lives and it is difficult to imagine that Judge Walker isn’t similarly affected by his accumulated experiences.  But in what way?  Much ado was made in the trial about the persecution felt by gay men and women and the need for constitutional protections.  Vaughn Walker is a federal judge, a position of authority and respect.  Will he discount the notion that he needs special protections?  On the other hand, he’s a private person who has never openly admitted to being gay – does he wish that he could be more open about who he is without fearing his career would be in jeopardy?

If the final outcome rests on he degree of persecution felt by gays, then it seems self evident that Judge Walker’s backgroun will bias him in one direction or the other.  But would a straight judge be any less biased?

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