Yesterday morning Thom and I went to a San Francisco federal courthouse to watch a hearing held to decide on a couple of motions brought up by the Prop 8 proponents: to vacate Judge Walker’s judgment overturning Prop 8 because he is gay and in a same-sex relationship (the argument being that he could have benefited from the case’s outcome), and to compel return of the trial recordings. The good news is that today both of these motions, as we expected, were denied.
From Judge Ware’s ruling on the motion to vacate (Section 455 of the U.S. Code [28 U.S.C. §455] addresses disqualification of federal judges):
The Court finds that neither recusal nor disqualification was required based on the asserted grounds. The sole fact that a federal judge shares the same circumstances or personal characteristics with other members of the general public, and that the judge could be affected by the outcome of a proceeding in the same way that other members of the general public would be affected, is not a basis for either recusal or disqualification under Section 455(b)(4). Further, under Section 455(a), it is not reasonable to presume that a judge is incapable of making an impartial decision about the constitutionality of a law, solely because, as a citizen, the judge could be affected by the proceedings. Accordingly, the Motion to Vacate Judgment on the sole ground of Judge Walker’s same-sex relationship is DENIED.
It’s a good read (full PDF here). Justice — not prejudice — prevails. Thank you, Judge Ware, for putting the smackdown on this absurd, frivolous motion by the Prop 8 proponents, who should be ashamed and embarrassed.
Bright and early before the hearing, outside the courthouse Thom and I participated in a rally organized by Marriage Equality USA to show our support for the cause. Among the speakers was Thom, who told our story as domestic partners who are waiting for and fighting for the right to marry.
Speaking with reporter Scott Shafer of KQED:
Thanks to all who showed up and to everyone for their support. We’ll keep showing up and fighting as long as we have to!