saving face

Is The Prop 8 Trial a Way for Judge Vaughn Walker to Seek Redemption?


Despite reports that he’s gay, Judge Vaughn Walker, who’s overseeing the Perry case and will eventually decide its outcome, comes to the case with another tinge to his reputation: battling back against the gays over including the word “Olympics” in a sports competition. Of course, Walker was only an attorney representing a client back in the 1980s, but it’s left the taste of two-day-old semen in the mouth of at least one reporter who covered the case.

A reader forwards this recollection from William Snyder, who reported on the case.

I can’t remember whether I told you about what I am about to write or not, but here goes. Right now, I am pleasantly surprised by Judge Walker’s fairness to hear both sides of an issue. Nevertheless, I’ll reserve total judgment until after the trial is over.

My brush with Judge Walker occurred 28 years ago when I was beginning my San Francisco gay writing career. I was with a paper—now out of existence— called the San Francisco Sentinel. Judge Walker was then Vaughn Walker, a local attorney handling the arguments for the United States Olympic Committee in its suit against Dr. Tom Waddell and the “Gay Olympic Games.” Walker and the USOC did not want us to use the term Olympic in the same breath with the word gay. Walker gave a quote to the Chronicle at that time that “people might be confused about the upcoming 1984 Olympic Games, which were to be held in Los Angeles.”

I attempted to interview him in person at his office. The guard at the front desk of the building his firm was located in would not permit me to go up to the office 23 or 33 floors higher.

So, I wrote a scathing, sarcastic column about Walker’s logic. First off, I said, these games are being held in 1982, not 1984 when the L.A. Olympics were to be held. Second, they were being held in crumbly old Kezar Stadium (before the original 60,000-structure was torn down and replaced by a smaller high school football stadium.) not the 100,000-seat, newly-refurbished Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. One thing I didn’t mention was that the L.A. Olympics were to be televised nationally (I believe by NBC in ’84) while the Gay Olympic Games didn’t have ANY TV coverage.

How could there be confusion? Walker insisted there could be confusion.

In addition, the USOC looked the other way for the Police Olympics, The Special Olympics, The Armenian Olympics and…dare I say it?… The Crab-Cooking Olympics. But Olympics for faggots and dykes? No way.

Apparently, there was no confusion involved there in those cases. Cops were normal. Armenians were normal. Crabs were normal, or at least THEIR chefs were. But not us. Apparently, Cops and Armenians didn’t suck cock. The thought of a crab sucking cock was too painful to think about.

After that case was won by Mr. Walker, he went after court costs and had Dr. Waddell’s home seized to pay for his expenses. This was going on while Waddell contacted AIDS and was dying.

There have been rumors that Judge Walker is gay himself. I have never been able to verify that. Frankly, I’m not normally in the “outing” business.

I have friends who are gay Republicans. Even though I have deep political differences with them, I respect their right not only to believe what they believe, but their right to their privacy. I do have a problem with hypocrites though. Especially those who inflict judicial pain on individuals trying to stay alive.

Perhaps Vaughn Walker is like St. Paul on the road to Damascus. Maybe he has seen the light. Maybe he has had a vision. We’ll see.

Maybe this is Vaughn Walker’s attempt for redemption.