The Prop 8 Trial Judge: "Outed"

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The SF Chronicle outed Judge Vaughn Walker over the weekend. Talbot analyzes:

Does it matter? Well, yes and no. On the one hand, Walker, a conservative with libertarian sympathies (he has spoken out about the futility of the drug war, for instance), is no more likely to let his sexual orientation determine his judicial orientation on a matter like this one than any heterosexual judge ruling on say, a divorce or sexual-harassment case would be. He didn’t choose this caseit was assigned to him at random. And in at least one high-profile instance that involved him in a legal matter related to the gay community, Walker was on the opposite side.

In 1987, as a lawyer in private practice, he represented the U.S. Olympic Committee in a copyright suit to prevent a local group from calling its athletic event “The Gay Olympics.” In fact, criticism of Walker from the San Francisco gay community helped to derail his judicial nominationhe was Ronald Reagan’s pick before he was Bush’s.

On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine that a 65-year-old gay man hasn’t thought about questions like whether homosexuality is innateand hasn’t thought about them more deeply and empathetically than most 65-year-old heterosexual men. Perhaps more to the point, if Walker rules in favor of the plaintiffs, opponents of gay marriage may try and make an issue of his sexual orientation. It wouldn’t be fair, but it wouldn’t be surprising, either.

NOM is predictably outraged. I'm afraid they will be able to make a case to their already enraged base that this was rigged. And reduction of gay people entirely to their orientation - rendering them outside civil institutions as just citizens, rather than as members of a minority group - is, of course, precisely the Christianist argument. As readers know, I don't believe in using someone's identioty against them in this way. And one might add that Walker was not truly "outed." He was not leading a secret life. He was openly gay but didn't make a fuss of it and wanted not to make a fuss of it in his office.

Man, these culture wars grind up people's lives and souls.

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