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Retired judge discusses ruling to overturn Prop 8

(KGO)
April 19, 2012 5:48:38 PM PDT
It's rare that a judge speaks candidly about high-profile cases, but on Thursday, retired U.S. district court judge Vaughn Walker discussed his decision to overturn Proposition 8, the ballot measure opposing same-sex marriage.

Judge Walker was invited to talk at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club. While he was involved in a number of high-profile cases, the audience seemed most interested in his opinion of the same-sex marriage debate.

Given his sexual orientation, Walker said he did not foresee any problems when he took over the Prop 8 case. "I didn't anticipate a problem because the word was out and had been publicly disclosed, published in a number of sources. And, the proponents of Proposition 8 indicated before the trial was over that they were not going to raise the matter. So, I figured that was not going to be an issue," he said.

However, it did become an issue. Supporters of Prop 8 wanted him disqualified when on August 4, 2010, Walker overturned Prop 8, declaring it invalid and unconstitutional. "To single out particularly minority judges on the basis of their innate characteristics would be a very dangerous road to go down," he said. In February, a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel declared the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriages to be unconstitutional. The judges also declared that Walker was not obligated to recuse himself from the case because he is gay.

On Thursday, a candid Judge Walker talked about the future of same-sex marriages. "The notion of people deciding to get married and to obtain the benefits of a marital relationship without regard to gender is an idea whose time has come and which is being ever more widely accepted, and eventually that will be the outcome," he said.

Walker has retired as a judge, but he is back to private practice and has been adjusting to it although he says it hasn't been easy for him.


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