I was honored to be in attendance at the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast on May 23, 2013, in Palm Springs, Calif., at which retired Ninth Circuit Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker gave the keynote address. I bring you the speech in its entirety.
Legislators in three states are preparing marriage equality bills. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus included protections for binational same-sex couples in its guidelines for immigration reform. And in March the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two marriage cases.
The broad language of the amendment could result in the denial of a wide range of rights and protections to non-married couples -- gay and straight -- on the grounds that those relationships would be barred from legal recognition if the amendment passes.
Since when we have ever required judges to disclose the details of the personal lives in such a manner? On what basis does one's sexual orientation affect his or her ability to determine the legality of matters?
Prop. 8 backers want Judge Vaughn Walker to be recused because he is gay, but they're trying not to admit that. How can they argue with a straight face that they aren't basing their argument on his sexual orientation?
Yesterday a team of lawyers sought to undermine the U.S. legal system. I'm not speaking in hyperbole -- these members of the bar attempted to discredit every black, female, non-Christian, or gay judge in the country.
Without factual support, it is becoming less and less tenable for opponents of same-sex marriage to argue that their positions are not influenced by a dislike of gay people and their intimate relationships.
Ted Olson's legal strategy is gay Californians' last best hope for judicial affirmation of their right to marry. Ironically, Jerry Brown's pursuit of short-term political advantage jeopardizes that strategy.
All judges have personal qualities, among them sex, age, race, background, experience and religious beliefs. But this does not mean they aren't able to look beyond personal factors and decide cases based on the facts and the law.
There are no rational arguments for denying gay Americans the same rights that straight Americans already enjoy. We'll probably hear more irrationality from the right on this issue, but it won't last. They've already lost.