Judge's Relationship is Subject of Hearing on Prop 8 Ruling

Lawyers for the group that backed Prop 8 and two same-sex couples who successfully sued to overturn the measure will argue their cases

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    Former Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker

    Judge Vaughn Walker's relationship with another man was the subject of a hearing Monday that involves California's same-sex marriage ban.

    Walker ruled last year that Prop 8 -- the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage -- was an unconstitutional violation of gay Californians' civil rights. Walker revealed his long-term relationship after he retired in February.

    Lawyers for the sponsors of the ballot measure asked Walker's successor Monday to vacate that decision. They argued Walker should have recused himself or disclosed his relationship status before trial because he and his partner stood to personally benefit from Walker's verdict.

    Attorneys for two same-sex couples who successfully sued to overturn the measure in Walker's court also are scheduled to present arguments.

    "What would a judge do who was Mormon knowing the Mormon Church took such an active role" in campaigning for Proposition 8, the couple's attorney, Ted Olson, asked. "What would a judge who had a nephew or niece or son or daughter who was gay or lesbian do? We have an unlimited number of permutations of what a judge might be asked to disclose."

    Chief U.S. Judge James Ware could rule from the bench or at a later date.

    Ron Prentice is chairman of the religious coalition that qualified the same-sex marriage ban for the November 2008 ballot.

    "We are much more hopeful for success with a judge presiding over the case who has greater respect for legal precedent and the rule of law," Prentice said.