San Francisco argues Proponents of Prop 8’s motion to vacate Chief Judge Walker’s ruling applies a double standard to gay judges
SAN FRANCISCO (Jun. 14, 2011)— US District Court Chief Judge James Ware today denied a motion made by Proponents of Proposition 8 to vacate the district court’s judgment striking down Proposition 8 on the ground that Chief Judge Vaughn Walker was biased. Proponents argued that Walker’s failure to disclose his long-term, same-sex relationship demonstrated that he intended to marry his partner and could not impartially decide whether gay people should be allowed to marry. Proposition 8, which was narrowly enacted in November 2008, eliminated marriage rights for same-sex partners in California. The City and County of San Francisco intervened in the case and has been a co-plaintiff with two same-sex couples in the Perry v. Brown case since 2009.
In response to today’s ruling, City Attorney Herrera issued the following statement:
“Proponents’ motion was an attack on the integrity of former Chief Judge Vaughn Walker and rested entirely on innuendo and suspicion. The motion boiled down to a claim that a gay judge cannot fairly rule in a case that addresses the civil rights of gay and lesbian citizens. This same argument has been consistently rejected by the courts in cases presided over by judges who were African American, women, Jewish, Catholic or disabled. As the courts have recognized, attacks like the one Proponents made impose a grotesque double standard, one that would allow heterosexual white male judges to sit without question on any kind of case, but would assume that judges of a minority group cannot be impartial. Granting Proponents’ motion would not have advanced the fairness of our judicial system, it would have undermined it by suggesting that gay judges are less able to be impartial than other judges. Chief Judge Ware’s ruling rightly rejected that motion and in doing so reinforced the fairness and equality that are fundamental to our judicial system.”
City Attorney Dennis Herrera has been at the forefront of the legal battle for marriage equality in California for the last seven years. His office was the first government entity in American history ever to sue to invalidate discriminatory marriage laws, and it is the only law office to be involved as a party in every aspect of the legal fight since 2004 — from defending then Mayor Gavin Newsom’s issuance of same-sex marriage licenses; to successfully suing to strike down the anti-gay marriage exclusion in the state courts; to challenging the discriminatory Proposition 8 in the California Supreme Court, and now as co-plaintiff in the federal courts with American Foundation for Equal Rights.
The case, Perry v. Brown, No. 09-CV-2292, was formerly known as Perry v. Schwarzenegger.
PDF copy of City’s reply brief to Perry v. Brown (May 9, 2011)
PDF copy of City’s city’s opposition to defendant-intervenors’ motion to vacate judgment (May 12, 2011)