Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

Chronicle columnists out Prop 8 trial judge

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker, who is presiding over the federal Proposition 8 trial, was outed Sunday, February 7 in the San Francisco Chronicle.

In their Matier & Ross column, Phil Matier and Andy Ross write that Walker (right), who was appointed to the federal bench by President George H.W. Bush in 1989, “has never taken pains to disguise – or advertise – his orientation.” The column is “exclusive” to the paper’s Sunday print edition and won’t be online until Monday.

The column states that Walker, 65, offered a “no comment” when asked if he had any concerns about “being characterized as gay.”

Matier and Ross talked to several gay San Francisco politicos and lawyers, none of whom believe Walker’s being gay will influence how he rules in the case now before him, known as Perry v. Schwarzenegger. Lawyers for the plaintiffs, two same-sex couples denied the right to marry in the Golden State, tried to show during the 12-day trial last month that there is no rational basis for Prop 8 and that it harms same-sex couples and their children.

Evidence in the case is now being reviewed before Walker hears closing arguments, likely to take place sometime in March.

The columnists wrote that Walker’s orientation is an open secret among those involved in the Prop 8 case.

Openly gay State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) told the columnists that Walker’s background is a nonissue. “It seems curious to me,” Leno told the paper, that when the state Supreme Court heard a challenge to Prop 8, the justices’ sexual orientation “was never discussed.”

A federal judge who is friends with Walker called the columnists to state that Walker does not want people to think he “wants to conceal his sexuality.”

“He has a private life and he doesn’t conceal it, but doesn’t think it is relevant to his decisions in any case, and he doesn’t bring it to bear in any decisions,” said the judge, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the Prop 8 trial.

For their part, defenders of Prop 8 told the paper that they have no plans to make an issue of Walker being gay.

“We’re not going to say anything about that,” Prop 8 general counsel Andy Pugno said.

Walker himself drew the ire of gay rights activists back in the 1980s when, as a private attorney, he represented the U.S. Olympic Committee in its successful effort to bar the San Francisco Gay Olympics from using the word “Olympics.” The quadrennial event is now known as the Gay Games.

— Cynthia Laird, February 7, 2010 @ 8:50 am PST
Filed under: News,Politics

Panel confirms Lt. Gov pick; Laird one step closer to Senate run

A state Senate panel approved the governor’s pick for the vacant lieutenant governor post Wednesday afternoon, putting former openly gay state Assemblyman John Laird one step closer to mounting a run for the Legislature’s upper house.

The Senate Rules Committee unanimously voted 4-0 to send Senator Abel Maldonado’s (R-Santa Maria), pictured at right, nomination for the state’s second-in-command position to the full Senate for a vote. He must also be confirmed by the Assembly.

If lawmakers fail to act, Maldonado will automatically be sworn in as lieutenant governor February 22.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger praised the panel of lawmakers for their decision yesterday evening not to oppose his pick for the post and expressed hope that Maldonado would be confirmed by the state Legislature.

“Today the Senate Rules Committee put Californians ahead of politics and exercised its constitutional duty by recommending that Senator Abel Maldonado be confirmed as Lieutenant Governor. Senator Maldonado is an outstanding public servant who has worked across the political aisle to accomplish great things on behalf of all Californians,” stated the governor in a statement released by his press office.

He also applauded Senate President Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) for “his leadership during the confirmation process and I urge the full Senate to confirm Senator Maldonado as quickly as possible.”

As the Bay Area Reporter reported Monday in its online Political Notes column, Laird has been laying the groundwork to run for the 15th Senate District, which runs from his seaside hometown – located an hour south of San Francisco – to San Luis Obispo. He has put a campaign team in place and has been house hunting in Santa Cruz since he currently does not reside within the boundaries of the Senate district.

“I have been working on it to be ready,” Laird told the B.A.R. last week. “If a race happens, it triggers on one day’s notice.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, February 4, 2010 @ 1:37 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

‘American Prayer Hour’ event Thursday in Berkeley

Seeking to counter the conservative-led National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry will be participating in the national interfaith “American Prayer Hour” on Thursday, February 4. The event is billed as a positive alternative to the National Prayer Breakfast.

CLGS, located on the Pacific School of Religion campus in Berkeley, will hold its event at 10 a.m. in the PSR Chapel, 1798 Scenic Avenue. Members of the seminary community and local clergy will participate. Speakers will include the Reverend Debra Haffner, director of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing; and Monica Cross, a PSR student and transgender activist.

The prayer hour will include prayers for peace and justice for the LGBT community in the United States and Uganda. Members of the group that sponsors the National Prayer Breakfast have been involved in the anti-gay legislation in Uganda, known as the “kill the gays” bill.

Members of the public are welcome to attend. Other events are planned for Washington, D.C., Dallas, and Chicago.

— Cynthia Laird, February 2, 2010 @ 5:47 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

Speier to remain in Congress, ends talk of state run

Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) announced Tuesday that she intends to run for another term in the U.S. House, ending speculation that she would instead run for state Attorney General in the June primary.

Talk of Speier’s possible abandonment of her federal office had set off wide speculation on who would run for her Congress seat, which stretches from Diamond Heights in San Francisco south down the Peninsula to San Mateo.

As the Bay Area Reporter‘s online Political Notes column had reported Monday, two potential gay contenders could have been state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and San Mateo County Supervisor Rich Gordon.

Gordon is one of five out candidates running in state Assembly races in the June primary and his campaign consultant Alex Tourk had dismissed any talk of his abandoning the race in an email to the B.A.R.

“Rich is wholeheartedly committed to the 21st Assembly race,” wrote Tourk.

Speier, 59, was elected to Congress in 2008 following the death of long-term House member Rep. Tom Lantos, who died from cancer. A recent poll showed she would have been the Democrat to beat if she had entered the AG race.

Sacramento would also have been closer to home and her family. Speier is raising a teenage daughter and flies home almost every weekend from Washington D.C.

But in her statement Tuesday afternoon, Speier said she had more work to do in the nation’s capital.

“I am thankful that so many supporters came forward to urge me to run for statewide office, but after talking it over with my family, I have decided to stay in Congress,” stated Speier. “I am convinced it is the right thing to do for my family, and I believe I can best serve my constituents by remaining in Congress and working hard on consumer protection, financial reform, jobs, and health care.”

Speier is  a member of the financial services committee, the oversight and government reform committee, and the select committee on energy independence and global warming. She has also been an ally of the LGBT community.

“My constituents have given me an extraordinary opportunity to protect the environment, the elderly, and a woman’s right to choose,” stated Speier. “I am grateful to serve in Congress, and I do not take a single day for granted.”

The move increases the likelihood that state Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) will run for mayor in 2011. Openly gay Supervisor Bevan Dufty so far is the only declared candidate in the race.

— Matthew S. Bajko, @ 3:38 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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