Gay Judge In Prop 8 Case Once Underwent Conversion Therapy

vaughn walkerAmong the tidbits that coming out from Jo Becker’s new book on marriage equality, “Forcing the Spring,” is this one: the federal judge who struck down California’s Proposition 8 as unconstitutional once underwent therapy to cure himself of being gay.

Vaughn Walker only came out as gay after he formally retired from the bench, but it was an open secret that he was gay while he was hearing the Prop 8 case. What no one knew apparently is that Walker’s long journey as a gay man included trying to rid himself of his feelings. In Becker’s book, Walker recounts how in the late 1970s, when he was in his 30s, he chose “to see a psychiatrist about my … affliction.”

Ultimately, the shrink declared Walker cured because he had never had sex with another man. Walker says he “badly wanted to believe it was true,” in no small part because of the harm being gay might meant to his career. Walker continued to date women and only entered into his first relationship with a man when he was in his late 30s.

Walker’s therapy sessions came back to him during the Prop 8 trial when Ryan Kendall testified about having to undergo conversion therapy as a 14-year-old, finally running away from home and struggling with depression for a decade. Kendall testified as evidence that sexual orientation is immutable. Walker says that the testimony was “the most touching” of the trial.

Needless to say, Walker has been vilified for anti-marriage forces for not recusing himself from the Prop 8 trial. Walker dismissed the complaints as unfounded. African American judges hear race discrimination cases all the time, while female judges hear cases charging gender bias,” he says. “Why shouldn’t a gay man hear the challenge to Prop. 8?”

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  • Billy Budd

    Very fitting.

  • Yahoo Thom

    Of course a Gay man should have heard Prop. 8, only a Gay man truly understands the issue intimately. That is why it is dangerous to stack the deck with only Conservative Straight White Males, that want to keep the system rigged to benefit them. We need diversity in all area of government!

  • moonman157

    It’s incredibly tragic that so many people are denied the chance at love for many years of their lives because of the bigotry of others. I hope that certain Christians/Republicans know that preventing people from being happy and loving each other is what they are truly doing.

    This is also a great reminder of why it’s so important to have a diverse representation in all forms of government. We all benefit when our leaders approach problems from a wide range of personal experiences and perspectives. I admire Judge Walker’s courage.

  • Mezaien

    Maybe one day we all wake up in the morning and there will be no more Christians. Kein Spezialen richte fur christlich.

  • sejjo

    *African American judges hear race discrimination cases all the time, while female judges hear cases charging gender bias,” he says. “Why shouldn’t a gay man hear the challenge to Prop. 8?”*

    Geez, he’s so … so reasonable.

  • stanhope

    Thank goodness he didn’t fall for the trick. That he should recuse himself was a stunt/tactic the right tried to use to look reasonable to mid-America yet advance their own agenda. Bloody fools.

  • aequalitasTN

    I always think it is funny when the extremist right says that a gay judge shouldn’t hear a marriage equality case because they “cannot possibly be unbiased” or, my favorite, “they have something to gain if they strike it down.” How many rich, white privileged judges hear white collar cases for executives for a company in which they may have stock? For that matter, how many federal judges recused themselves along the way when Mucutcheon v. FEC was working its way through appeals, including the 5 Justices on the Supreme Court, since I am sure a good number had given hefty political party donations before? How many rich white judges recuse themselves from cases when it comes to SEC regulation cases, civil or criminal, even though they could stand to loose a great deal of money? The ultra conservative right never thinks about that glass house they live in before they start throwing stones.

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