In their latest attempt to stymie marriage equality in the courts, the lawyers defending California’s Proposition 8 are now claiming that Vaughn Walker, the judge who ruled the state’s marriage discrimination unconstitutional, should have been disqualified from the case because he is gay.
The argument that a gay judge shouldn’t be allowed to handle gay rights cases is pretty flimsy to begin with – but now it’s caused the anti-equality attorneys to paint themselves into a pretty tight corner:
Now, as the sponsors of Proposition 8 try to convince the courts that the judge who overturned the measure had a built-in bias as a gay man with a longtime partner, their opponents are invoking that same campaign message: If Prop. 8 was meant to preserve opposite-sex marriages, they argue, then any judge, gay or straight, would have the similar conflict of interest.
In their latest court filing, the measure’s supporters reply that they never promoted Prop. 8 as a benefit for married couples – just for society as a whole.
"Our argument is that adoption of same-sex marriage will likely harm the institution of marriage over time, not that any individual’s existing marriage will be affected," said Charles Cooper, lawyer for the Prop. 8 campaign committee, a conservative religious coalition called Protect Marriage.
"The notion that all married heterosexual judges have a direct and substantial personal interest in the outcome of this case is, of course, patently absurd."
Because in the Prop 8 trial last summer, Cooper himself argued that allowing gay people to marry would actively harm heterosexual marriages…by somehow encouraging heterosexuals to cheat on their spouses.
And then there’s the famous ad that Protect Marriage’s major financial backer, the National Organization for Marriage, created to boost Prop 8:
These people sound pretty personally threatened by the prospect of gay people getting married.
Maybe Prop 8’s proponents have changed their minds about the dire consequences of marriage equality. Or maybe they’re just once again running up against the lack of logic behind their case.