Lambda Legal Issues Statement After Federal Court Hearing on Prop 8 Proponents' Gay Judge Witch Hunt

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"The court is likely to deny this motion for what it is: a desperate and dangerous witch hunt for gay judges that comes at the expense of judicial integrity."
June 13, 2011
Peter Renn

"Instead of putting Prop 8 on trial, the proponents attempted to put the judge who presided over the case on trial."

(San Francisco, June 13, 2011)—This morning the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California heard oral arguments on a motion filed by Prop 8 proponents seeking to overturn Judge Walker's ruling striking down Prop 8 as unconstitutional because he has been in a relationship with another man for 10 years.

Peter Renn, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal's Western Regional Office based in Los Angeles, attended this morning's hearing.

"Instead of putting Prop 8 on trial, the proponents attempted to put the judge who presided over the case on trial. But the absurdity and offensiveness of the proponents' position—that a gay judge cannot decide a civil rights issue—became even more apparent under the court's rigorous questioning. Apparently, the proponents also believe that the impartiality of female judges who have been the victims of rape is open to question in cases involving sexual assault. The court is likely to deny this motion for what it is: a desperate and dangerous witch hunt for gay judges that comes at the expense of judicial integrity," Renn said.

Background

Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, ACLU of Northern California and Equality California filed a friend-of-the-court brief last month arguing that the Prop 8 supporters' motion closely parallels long-discredited historical attempts to disqualify judges based on their race, sex or religion. The groups contend that the Prop 8 supporters' argument boils down to the notion that essentially no lesbian, gay or bisexual judge could impartially preside over a case involving the rights of same-sex couples—an offensive suggestion that has been consistently rejected by the courts in similar cases involving race and sex discrimination.

Lambda Legal's Fair Courts Project engages the LGBT and HIV-affected communities to learn about the proper role of the judiciary, the importance of judicial fairness and the need to encourage people across the nation to take action to support an independent judiciary. When courts uphold laws and constitutional principles that protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, they often face anti-court backlash such as this latest motion by Prop 8 proponents who are seeking to have Judge Walker's decision striking down Prop 8 overturned.

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Contact Info

Contact: Tom Warnke; 213-382-7600 ex 247;twarnke@lambdalegal.org

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

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