Last Friday, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) assembled a “distinguished panel” for a House Judiciary Committee hearing on “defending marriage,” including vocal opponents of marriage equality, Maggie Gallagher (National Organization for Marriage) and Ed Whelan (Ethics and Public Policy Center). During the hearing, Whelan claimed that President Obama attempted to “sabotage” the Defense of Marriage Act and now this “distinguished” witness is going a step further, calling for Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling against California’s Proposition 8 to be vacated because Walker is gay. Right Wing Watch‘s Brian has this catch:
Because Walker was deciding how the law in the very jurisdiction in which he lived would directly govern his own individual rights on a matter that a reasonable person would think was very important to Walker personally, it is clear that Walker’s impartiality in [Perry v. Schwarzenegger] “might reasonably be questioned.”
Whelan is referring to Section 455(a) of Title 28 the United States Code, which requires a federal judge “shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” He argues that because Walker has a same-sex partner with whom he could marry if Prop 8 were overturned, he had a bias to overturn it.
The odious implication of such an argument is that only a member of the predominant group can determine the rights of a minority group—members of the minority group would not be “qualified” to rule. But as Equality Matters noted in response to other conservatives who have made the same argument, claims of Judge Walker’s “bias” also assume that a heterosexual judge would not have a “personal interest” in the outcome of the trial. This is anathema to the primary argument made by defendants of Prop 8: that same-sex marriage would hurt heterosexual marriages.
Watch the highlights from Franks’ “defending marriage” hearing: