A federal judge on Tuesday refused to invalidate last year's ruling against Proposition 8, deciding the gay jurist who overturned the same-sex marriage ban had no obligation to step aside because of a possible conflict of interest.
The decision by Chief Judge James Ware of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco left the ruling by retired Judge Vaughn R. Walker in place. Walker’s decision remains on hold pending a separate appeal to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Proponents of Proposition 8 argued that Walker's conflict was not his sexual orientation, but the fact that he was in a serious same-sex relationship that could conceivably lead to marriage.
"It is not reasonable to presume that a judge is incapable of making an impartial decision about the constitutionality of a law, solely because, as a citizen, the judge could be affected by the proceedings," Ware wrote in his ruling.
The chief judge said all Californians share an interest in having the the Constitution enforced. The "single interest" Walker shared with the same-sex couples who challenged Proposition 8 "gave him no greater interest in a proper decision on the merits that would exist for any other judge or citizen," Ware wrote.
:Ware said it was unreasonable to assume from Walker's relationship that he had such a great interest in marrying that he was incapable of performing his judicial duties.
"The mere fact that a judge is in a relationship with another person -- whether of the same sex or the opposite sex -- does not ipso facto imply that the judge must be so interested in marrying that person that he would be unable to exhibit the impartiality which, it is presumed, all federal judges maintain."