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Steve Lopez: Prop. 8 backers once again grasping at straws

June 14, 2011 |  2:03 pm

Joni Boettcher, left, kisses her roommate Tika Shenghur

Steve Lopez I’ve tried my best, but I never did understand the legal logic of Prop. 8 supporters.

They wanted to have a federal judge’s ruling last year thrown out because he revealed after retiring that he was a gay man involved in a relationship?

It was no real surprise that a federal judge in San Francisco on Tuesday essentially said, "so what?" and rejected the challenge.

The case in question involved federal Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who threw out Prop. 8’s ban on same-sex marriages. After retiring, he said he’d been involved in a 10-year relationship with a man.

To those who supported Prop. 8’s ban on gay marriage, this represented a glimmer of hope for their small-minded cause. They asked a federal court to throw out Walker’s ruling, and a decision in the case is expected soon.

But Ted Boutrous, a Los Angeles lawyer who tried to beat back the challenge in court, said you could take the Prop. 8 supporters’ argument to ridiculous extremes.

For example, if a judge presiding over a rape case had herself been a rape victim, should she disclose that before hearing the case?

Boutrous said that to his surprise, when he asked this in court, the attorney representing the Prop. 8 crowd said yes, a judge who’d been raped should disclose such a thing.

“I found it remarkable,” said Boutrous.

But of course, the attorney might only have said yes because if he’d said no, he would have shot holes in his Prop. 8 argument.

Boutrous, taking the logic of his opponent to another absurd extreme, offered this argument:

If a straight judge had heard the Prop. 8 case, he should have disclosed it up front, because surely he might have been biased in favor of heterosexual marriage, perhaps for religious reasons, or because he saw gay marriage as some kind of threat to children.

So if you’d have to disqualify a gay judge, and you’d have to disqualify a straight judge, who’s left to hear the case?

That’s a rhetorical question, of course, to a legal challenge that is nothing more than camouflage for the real objective. And the real objective, for those who have nothing better to do than worry about how other people conduct their lives, is to ban gay marriage by whatever means necessary.


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--Steve Lopez

Photo: Joni Boettcher, left, kisses her roommate Tika Shenghur during a protest march down Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood on Nov. 5, 2008, before the start of a "No on Prop. 8'' rally. Credit: Kevork Djansezian / Associated Press