JUDGES

The Washington Times Daily - - From Page One -

the Courts re­leased the re­sults of its first sur­vey on gay judges Thurs­day.

It’s clear that not all mag­is­trates are on board. Fully 40 per­cent of judges re­fused to state their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion on the ques­tion­naire, which also asks for gen­der, race and eth­nic­ity.

“It’s a new ques­tion and each judge may have his or her own rea­sons for choos­ing not to an­swer,” of­fice spokesman Philip Car­ri­zosa said. “It may be that in that 40 per­cent there are judges who are straight who have de­cided, ‘I’m not go­ing to an­swer; that’s too pri­vate.’ ”

Of the judges who did re­spond, 57.7 per­cent said they were het­ero­sex­ual, 1.1 per­cent said they were les­bian, 1.0 per­cent said they were gay men and 0.06 per­cent iden­ti­fied as trans­gen­der. That per­cent­age rep­re­sents one judge in Alameda County who is openly trans­gen­der.

The leg­is­la­tion, spon­sored by state Sen. Ellen Cor­bett, a Demo­crat, passed on largely party-line votes with­out fan­fare, but it has come un­der fire by con­ser­va­tives who ac­cuse the gay-rights lobby of want­ing to have it both ways.

While ad­vo­cates would have vil­i­fied any­one who tried to ex­pose a gay public fig­ure in pre­vi­ous years, “[n]ow, how­ever, that Propo­si­tion 8 has been at­tacked in court, and the ruse no longer needs to be main­tained, it’s okay to ask ques­tions about who is and who isn’t ‘gay’ or ‘les­bian’ be­cause the an­swer to that ques­tion will help en­sure there are enough like-minded jus­tices to keep the ho­mo­sex­ual agenda afloat in Cal­i­for­nia,” Al­liance De­fense Fund at­tor­ney Austin Ni­mocks said in a col­umn.

The sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion of judges emerged as a hot-but­ton is­sue af­ter the trial of Propo­si­tion 8, the 2008 Cal­i­for­nia ini­tia­tive that banned same-sex mar­riage. U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled Propo­si­tion 8 un­con­sti­tu­tional, but the mea­sure’s sup­port­ers filed a law­suit chal­leng­ing the rul­ing be­cause Judge Walker had not re­vealed that he was in­volved in a long-term gay re­la­tion­ship.

At­tor­neys for Pro­tect­mar­riage ar­gued that Judge Walker should have re­cused him­self from the case and that the rul­ing should be over­turned. The 9th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals re­jected that ar­gu­ment while uphold­ing the ver­dict in a Feb. 7 de­ci­sion.

Sup­port­ers say that hav­ing a num­ber of gay judges on the bench is im­por­tant to en­sure that Cal­i­for­ni­ans have con­fi­dence in the fair­ness of their ju­di­cial sys­tem.

“Gen­er­ally, we know the courts have a his­tory of not be­ing as di­verse as they ought to be and not rep­re­sent­ing the di­ver­sity of the gen­eral public,” Ms. Orr said. “A lot of peo­ple have asked me how di­verse are our courts, and we don’t know be­cause we’ve never checked it. This is the first step in the process.”

Crit­ics say the law may come back to haunt judges who check the box stat­ing they are gay. The state agency breaks down the re­sponses by ju­ris­dic­tion to help pro­tect the pri­vacy of the judges, but sen­si­tive information has a way of leaking.

“But given how eas­ily even highly clas­si­fied information pro­tected from dis­clo­sure by crim­i­nal laws gets leaked, why would any judge trust that prom­ise?” Ed Whe­lan said in Na­tional Re­view Online.

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