The San Francisco Chronicle has outed Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who is overseeing the Prop 8 same-sex marriage trial in California. Testimony has ended in the case, and final arguments from both sides are expected soon.
According to the Chronicle, the fact that Walker, an Illinois native, is gay is actually an open secret and is widely considered to be a non-issue. See the story at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/02/07/BACF1BT7ON.DTL
This brings up the issue of whether sexuality matters in this case. If Walker was straight, would be have to recuse himself?
Writers Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross state: "Many gay politicians in San Francisco and lawyers who have had dealings with Walker say the 65-year-old jurist, appointed to the bench by President George H.W. Bush in 1989, has never taken pains to disguise -- or advertise - his orientation. They also don't believe it will influence how he rules" on the Prop 8 case.
Ironically, Walker is the attorney who took a case against the gay community, and late activist Dr. Tom Waddell, when the U.S. Olympic committee sued to deny the Gay Olympics the right to use the Olympic word; they were forced to change to Gay Games. Walker was a private attorney back then, representing the IOC, which had never challenged other groups from using the word.
The Chronicle reports that the Prop 8 case was actually assigned to Walker randomly. The lawyer for the pro-Prop 8 side claims they would not make an issue of Walker's sexuality if the case goes to the U.S. Supreme Court, the paper reported.