February 11, 2010
By Julia Rosen
It was just a matter of time before the right-wing fired up the Wurlitzer and attempted to undermine Judge Walker’s standing as an independent minded, fair jurist because he happens to be gay. Their argument is predictable, that Judge Walker should recuse himself because it is impossible for him to be unbiased. Pardon the French, but what a load of crap.
The SF Chronicle has done an excellent job pushing back on this meme from the religious right. From an editorial:
Vaughn Walker almost lost his chance to reach the federal bench because of claims that he was anti-gay and hostile to civil rights. Two dozen House Democrats, led by Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, opposed his nomination because of his alleged “insensitivity” to gays and the poor. His first appointment, from President Ronald Reagan in 1987, stalled out in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Which makes it all the more ironic to read this from Matt Barber from the Liberty Counsel, posted at Catholic.org:
Any decision favoring plaintiffs in this case will be permanently marred and universally viewed as stemming from Judge Walker’s personal biases and alleged lifestyle choices.
To which the Chron says:
Those who understood the distinct roles of lawyer-advocate and judge recognized that a person of ethics and fidelity to the law could separate his or her personal views and experiences from professional duty. [SNIP]
A judge’s sexual orientation does not inherently shade his ability to read and interpret the U.S. Constitution with clear-eyed wisdom. Assuming this case advances on appeal, no matter how Walker rules, there almost certainly will be jurists who will need to set aside their religion’s teachings – and, quite likely, the impact of their ruling on close friends or even a family member – as they do their utmost to uphold the meaning of the Constitution.
Unfortunately, Ruth Marcos over at the WaPo is still “squirming” over this.
You’re seeing a lot of question marks so far because this one is more difficult than it first appears. My instant reaction was that Walker ought to be free to hear the case. That remains my bottom line, but not without some squirming. No one would question an African-American judge’s capacity to preside over a race discrimination lawsuit or a female jurist’s handling of a sexual harassment case. In the Proposition 8 matter, a straight judge would bring his own preconceptions to the courtroom, and no one would challenge his impartiality.
Why is this more difficult than a question of race, religion or gender? The only answer is that somehow Marcos thinks that being gay is different than being something just as immutable, like being African-American or a woman. It isn’t.
But yet, here we are with people wrestling with this question, instead of automatically assuming that Judge Walker is going to do just as good a job calling balls and strikes here, as he did representing his clients to stop a gay athletic competition from using the word Olympics. It smacks of the uncomfortableness that a lot of the American public has with LGBTs. We make them “squirm”, rather than assume we act like other more understood groups. It is an unfortunate example of just how much further our society has to go towards complete understanding, acceptance and support of LGBTs.