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Gay judge's ruling on same-sex marriage is upheld

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge on Tuesday upheld a gay judge's ruling that struck down California's same-sex marriage ban.

Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware said former Chief Judge Vaughn Walker did not have to divulge whether he wanted to marry his own gay partner before he declared last year that voter-approved Proposition 8 was unconstitutional.

Lawyers for backers of the ban argued at a hearing Monday that Walker should have recused himself or disclosed his relationship because he and his partner stood to personally benefit from the verdict.

Walker publicly revealed after he retired in February that he is in a 10-year relationship with a man. Rumors that he is gay had circulated before and after he presided over the trial in early 2010.

Ware said the ruling by Walker, who did not attend Monday's hearing, raised important questions, and he called it the first case in which a judge's same-sex relationship had led to calls for disqualification.

He said there probably were similar struggles in other cases when race and gender were the issues.

Many legal scholars had expected that Ware would not overturn Walker's decision. They said that having a judge's impartiality questioned because he is gay is new territory but that efforts to get female judges thrown off gender discrimination cases or Hispanic judges removed from immigration cases have failed.

Gay judge's ruling on same-sex marriage is upheld 06/15/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 15, 2011 12:03am]
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