Friday, August 6, 2010

Pandora's box and a can of worms

Is Judge Vaughn Walker gay?
Do I care?
This story ran today. Basic point: the judge who nullified the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in California might actually be of the homosexual persuasion himself. People who support his ruling don't care. People who don't support his ruling are seeing red and saying he had an obvious bias and conflict of interest.
I don't even want to get into the logistics of the ruling. I haven't read the 136 pages, I've just read news articles relating to it. Nor do I want to debate whether gay marriage should be allowed and the constitutionality of all this mess. While I have an opinion, and while I think it is rational, I'm just going to keep it to myself.
This issue of the judge's bias, however, I want to talk about. I can see why people would feel his being gay would bias him. But would him being straight not also bias him? Maybe. If he was Mormon, would the pro-gay marriage people be raising Cain? Probably. Is there anyone over the age of 14 who doesn't have an opinion on this subject who could actually be unbiased? Possibly somewhere, but I don't think we want that person rendering an opinion.
On a perhaps parallel note, what if this were a question of sexual discrimination? You can't have a female judge; she'd be biased against the man. But you can't have a male judge; he'd be biased against the woman. So who do you pick? A transgender individual? A woman with a beard? A metrosexual man who likes the ballet?
Every judge has biases. We can't get away from it. And frankly, a person's sexual preference is nobody else's business, even in this situation. I just don't think it's appropriate for this to be a topic of conversation. OK, maybe Judge Walker is gay, and maybe it affected his ruling. Maybe he's not. Maybe it didn't. Maybe it did, but he made the right call. Maybe he made the wrong call. And that should be the issue -- the actual ruling. Is what he did in accordance with the law of the land? I don't know. But let's consider that, please, not anybody's bedroom habits.

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