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Prop 8 Trial Judge Makes It Official

Jim Burroway

April 6th, 2011

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker, who struck down California’s Proposition 8 as unconstitutional, has officially come out. Anticipating charges that Judge Walker’s decision was influenced by his sexual orientation, he said that he would never consider his sexual orientation as grounds for recusal.

Former U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who retired from the bench at the end of February, said it would not be appropriate for any judge’s sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin or gender to stop them from presiding over a case.

“That’s a very slippery slope,” Walker said.

Indeed. If such a standard would apply, then six of the nine Supreme Court Justices would have to recuse themselves should any case involving the Catholic Church or Catholic-affiated institution appear before the bench.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported last year that Judge Walker is gay, although Walker himself refused to address the issue.

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Richard Rush
April 6th, 2011 | LINK

If anyone believed that a gay judge must recuse himself on a case, such as Prop8, then surely they would believe that straight judges must also recuse themselves, wouldn’t they? And if so, then the only eligible judges would be bisexuals.

Rob in San Diego
April 6th, 2011 | LINK

Wouldn’t all heterosexual judges have to recuse themselves so that they don’t automatically rule against us?

Donny D.
April 7th, 2011 | LINK

After, it was straight people who passed Proposition 8.

enough already
April 7th, 2011 | LINK

Hmm, by that logic, heterosexuals should never be permitted to make decisions regarding gay marriage – nor bisexuals.

Nor gay people.

What’s left?

Right! Catholic priests whose sexuality extends only to violence against children.

Well, glad we got that cleared up.

Priya Lynn
April 7th, 2011 | LINK

“Enough” said “Hmm, by that logic, heterosexuals should never be permitted to make decisions regarding gay marriage – nor bisexuals.”.

No, by that logic only bisexuals could be permitted to make decisions regarding gay marriage because being bisexual they are not biased against either sexual orientation.

“Enough”, I know you hate bisexuals, but really…

Ben in Atlanta
April 7th, 2011 | LINK

I’ve seen the prefix ‘a’ defined as not, or without so I’d imagine asexuals would be non-biased.

enough already
April 7th, 2011 | LINK

Priya Lynn,
Next to lesbian separatists like you, Bisexuals are the last people who should be permitted to make any decision regarding my marriage.

I would, in fact become active in a manner which this blog prohibits discussing towards any person who even attempted to take my husband from me on some trumped up ground that their status as bisexual gave them that legal right.

enough already
April 7th, 2011 | LINK

Frankly, I think a judge should pass judgement based on law, not on personal bias or identity or religious belief.

But then, I live in a country where we are fully human and have full civil rights, so what do I know?

Priya Lynn
April 7th, 2011 | LINK

“Enough” said “Next to lesbian separatists like you, Bisexuals are the last people who should be permitted to make any decision regarding my marriage.”.

You are clearly under a lot of false impressions about who I am. For starters, I’m not a lesbian or a seperatist, I’m bisexual and a strong supporter of the LGBT community. Secondly, very interesting that you would single out any group of people as being unfit to be judges, rather bigoted, in fact. In my world people’s sexual orientation or gender has no bearing on their ability to do a job. Its sad that in your world lesbians and/or bisexuals are automatically disqualified from certain jobs and “your” community.

You promised to ignore my posts, do you have any integrity on that point?

Priya Lynn
April 7th, 2011 | LINK

I have to go now, but “enough” if you choose to ignore your promise and respond to my post, it would be very interesting to hear why you think bisexuals should be disqualified from judging this issue but not heterosexuals and gays.

enough already
April 7th, 2011 | LINK

Priya Lynn,
The two are not mutually exclusive. I would take action against anyone who tried to separate my husband from me and it would be punitive.
Were a bisexual willing to precede over such a matter as Prop.8 applying strictly constitutional law, then I should have no objection. I left out a conditional in my original statement.

If you so strongly want to fight with me here, who am I to deny you that pleasure?

And yes, you very much characterize the extremely negative experiences I and many of my truly gay friends have had with bisexuals.
You just can accept that some men really are gay.

Jim Burroway
April 7th, 2011 | LINK

I am extremely perplexed at where this thread has gone. Are we not in violent agreement that one’s sexuality has no bearing on whether one is able to render a fair legal judgment? I thought everyone was voicing their examples to ridicule the notion, yet now we have a fight breaking out on whose notion is more ridiculous.

Amazing.

enough already
April 7th, 2011 | LINK

Jim,
Timothy has already stated that any further dispute between Priya Lynn and myself will be deleted, so I will make this brief.

I don’t, personally, see why a judge who is willing to adhere to the US Constitution and Amendments can conclude otherwise that that we are fully human and fully entitled to all civil rights.

Neither the anatomy nor the sexuality (or whatever the PC flavor of the day is for that word or identity is) would prejudice such a judge.

I do, personally, doubt that a Christian judge would give my gay marriage a fair hearing in the US. And this, regardless of their gender, sexuality or whatever identity.

Jim Burroway
April 7th, 2011 | LINK

Which is exactly what Priya Lynn is arguing. She was critiquing the logic, not agreeing with it.

As I said, violent agreement.

enough already
April 7th, 2011 | LINK

Jim, I’m sorry but the assumption that a bisexual judge would be neutral towards all is based on assumptions which as just as skewed, if in the other direction, as the assumption that a bisexual judge would be biased against all.

Either the capacity to pass fair judgment is based on adherence to the US Constitution and amendments independent of cis- or tran- gender,sexual orientation and religion or it is not.

I am arguing that a judge may be either neutral or biased, independent of the presence of these elements (with the caveat that I have seen no grounds to assume a Christian would be neutral).

Jim Burroway
April 7th, 2011 | LINK

Enough already,

ENOUGH ALREADY!!!

I am going to violate my own comment policy temporarily so as to inform you of the need to get your head out of your freaking @ss!

I now apologize for that violation. But you seem to think that someone is saying that only bisexuals can be impartial in this case. NO ONE HAS SAID ANY SUCH THING. All Priya says was “by that logic…” and you went flying off the handle.

And you know what? Priya has a very valid point. By their logic bisexuals are the only ones who would not have a stake in the outcome — by their logic. A logic that we all find ludicrous. Which is why we are mocking their logic.

So climb down off your high horse and stop creating an argument where none exists.

It is clear that the personal animosities which exist betwen you two, for whatever reason, prevent even the slimmest semblence of discussion. This web site is not your personal chat room, and I think I can safely speak for others here in saying that this playground behavior needs to be taken to another playground. Any further bickering between the two of you will be removed as quickly as possible.

Richard Rush
April 7th, 2011 | LINK

enough already said,
“I am arguing that a judge may be either neutral or biased, independent of the presence of these elements (with the caveat that I have seen no grounds to assume a Christian would be neutral).”

While I wouldn’t ASSUME a Christian would be neutral, I still cling to the belief that the majority of people in the US who identify with some form of Christianity are fairly rational/reasonable people. (That statement may surprise some who seem to believe I’m militantly anti-Christian.) Unfortunately, that still leaves many millions who are eager to share their certainty that they are America’s finest Christians. If you ask people their religion, and they answer Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Catholic, Methodist, Moravian, or Quaker, etc., the odds are that they are rational/reasonable people. But if they answer Christian, it should raise a big red flag, as they are likely using that term to differentiate themselves from the inferior Christians. (I don’t know Southern Baptist, so I don’t know how they would answer the question.)

The swing vote on the US Supreme Court that made possible the overturning of sodomy laws in the Lawrence v. Texas case was Anthony Kennedy, a devout Roman Catholic (as far as I know). Kennedy wrote the opinion, and reading it literally brought tears to my eyes back in 2003.

enough already
April 8th, 2011 | LINK

Richard,
I still have the physical scars from being tied down by some of the Christians who hate us in my teen years while they tried to make me heterosexual. They failed, I am gay and that is immutable.

I understand your position (think I do, at least). I did not say all Christian judges may not be trusted to be neutral. I stated that I have seen no reason to assume neutrality towards gays when a judge identifies as a Christian.

Richard Rush
April 8th, 2011 | LINK

enough already said,
“I still have the physical scars from being tied down by some of the Christians who hate us in my teen years while they tried to make me heterosexual.”

I certainly hope they were prosecuted by civil authorities for their crimes, and not given a pass because they were merely exercising their religious freedom special taxpayer-subsidised rights.

enough already
April 8th, 2011 | LINK

Richard,
That was back in 1972. Nothing was done to them.
When my host family – Study Year Abroad is closely vetted and supervised, at least back then – found out what was happening at the school, they withdrew me, put me in another school and filed complaints with the police and school board.
Which led nowhere. In those days, psychologists were still enlisting doctors to perform electro shock torture. I was fortunate to escape that.

I grasp the importance many here place on viewing everyone as either neutral or, at worst, misguided and that one must not take the actions of individuals within a group to mean the entire group.

That said, when you actually have experienced what those Christians who hate us stand for as I did as a child and as I did many decades later when my husband was torn from my side as I lay critically ill in the hospital – then you have not got much patience with such armchair platitudes.

We face an implacable enemy. Either we win and become fully human and enjoy full civil rights in the US or they win and it will be my homeland’s 1930’s all over again.

No doubt there are also good Christians in this world. I understand Hitler was very good to Blondie, his dog.
I will, however, continue to view every Christian Justice in the US with the utmost scepticism on questions involving our queer human status and civil rights.

Priya Lynn
April 8th, 2011 | LINK

Jim, thank you for properly expressing my point while I was away.

Timothy Kincaid
April 8th, 2011 | LINK

Richard,

If you ask people their religion, and they answer Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Catholic, Methodist, Moravian, or Quaker, etc., the odds are that they are rational/reasonable people. But if they answer Christian, it should raise a big red flag, as they are likely using that term to differentiate themselves from the inferior Christians.

Perhaps some.

But I think that the majority who call themselves “Christian” do so because they are not frequent attendees of any particular church, don’t have a strong preference, and can’t articulate the difference. So on Christmas and Easter they will go to whatever church their friends or family wish to attend, send their kids to some other church’s summer program, and occasionally attend sunday service at whichever church is closest.

Shofixti
April 8th, 2011 | LINK

That’s right, TK,

Additionally, in churches of a Pentecostal slant, with populations of young adults – there is a rejection of and almost fear of ‘relgiousness’ that can lead to abandoning demoninatinonal labels. They want to experience faith as something fresh not forced. They don’t want to consider a church heirarchy. But I think this creates a mini-crisis as to what is a religious ritual (you should see how they tithe!) and what is openness to the Spirit.

So, they may say Christian, to downplay the role of dogma and highlight the boundary-less nature of faith. This does not mean it isn’t a conflicted position to hold.

Richard Rush
April 8th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy & Shofixti,

I should say that I’m not strongly wedded to my assertion regarding one’s self-identity as Christian. It’s just an impression that has accumulated within me over the years. I certainly don’t have any studies to cite.

Donny D.
April 9th, 2011 | LINK

As to Judge Walker coming out, I bet the bigots are going to have a field day with that news.

Enough Already said:

We face an implacable enemy. Either we win and become fully human and enjoy full civil rights in the US or they win and it will be my homeland’s 1930′s all over again.

A great many straight people feel as though we oppress them in some way or another. This is not a new sentiment by any means, so its clearly a durable one. The message of straight victimization by gay marriage, gay activists, etc., is one that appeals to a great many straight people and we would do well not to forget that.

I watch a lot of recent entertainment television and see a lot of subtle and not so subtle anti-gay content, even in shows that are supposed to be “groundbreaking” because they do something or another positive in regard to us. Hollywood is extremely savvy about its viewers and wouldn’t make so many of its gay characters irritating, self-hating, villainous, lusting after straight people, even pedophilic, if many to most straight people didn’t buy into those stereotypes. With all the hopeful rah rah’ing about how much better things supposedly are these days, its necessary to remember that secondary schoolers using gay to mean bad/inferior/pathetic didn’t start happening till the 1980s, and has spread from Gen X to pretty much every generational group in the intervening years.

So I can believe that things could go horribly wrong and move us seriously backwards in regards to our rights and how we are treated day to day. We have to keep working so they don’t.

Enough Already wrote:

I grasp the importance many here place on viewing everyone as either neutral or, at worst, misguided and that one must not take the actions of individuals within a group to mean the entire group.

That said, when you actually have experienced what those Christians who hate us stand for as I did as a child and as I did many decades later when my husband was torn from my side as I lay critically ill in the hospital – then you have not got much patience with such armchair platitudes.

. . .

No doubt there are also good Christians in this world. I understand Hitler was very good to Blondie, his dog.
I will, however, continue to view every Christian Justice in the US with the utmost scepticism on questions involving our queer human status and civil rights.

If I was in your place, I would probably hate all Christians, and expect any individual Christians to prove to me they aren’t what I’d come to expect from them. Beyond that, all I can say is that there’s a tremendous diversity among American Christians, and I’m not sure how much self-identification as Christian on the part of an American even means by itself. It’s the specific version of Christianity they associate themselves with that matters.

enough already
April 9th, 2011 | LINK

Donny D. wrote:
If I was in your place, I would probably hate all Christians, and expect any individual Christians to prove to me they aren’t what I’d come to expect from them.
end quote

Donny, In short, “hate” is not even close. The old saying …Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam… comes within striking distance of describing my feelings on the matter. I’d pay for the salt. I have, actually, though I won’t live to see it.

The psychologist who attacked me? As a fourteen year old, I couldn’t do anything.
Five years later, when I came into my majority and had funds, I hired private investigators. Astonishing what good cameras even back then could do with poor lighting and motel furnishings.
His wife found the prints adequate for a very public divorce…and the school simply couldn’t have a divorced Christian in their employ. At least not one which prints shoved under the door of the principle’s office showed engaged in astonishingly flexible activities with another staff member.
Who also got fired – collateral damage. We provided financial help until HE (yup, no surprise there) was able to find another position).

This individual managed to continue his private practice until he died about 15 years ago. I went to the funeral (an 18 hour flight for me at the time), danced on the grave after it was filled in, paid the fine with pleasure, and made sure to buy the plots to the left and right. Donated them to a local chapter of a group of people he also didn’t like. I’m not in Ohio often, but when I am, I always make a point of stopping by to piss on his headstone. I’ve got first purchase option on the plot and left both money and detailed instructions for the end of the 21 century. He’ll be thrown out and the plot filled with salt then covered with a stone with an obscure but clear text.

But that is merely “don’t get mad, get even.”

The real trick is to prevent those Christians who hate us from attacking anybody, ever, again. Look at the attack on women on 8 April in the US Congress. They are literally willing to bring the country’s recovery to its knees to destroy a woman’s right to choose.

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