A federal judge’s failure to disclose whether he intended to marry his long-term, same-sex partner before presiding over the Proposition 8 case amounts to  misconduct that requires the removal of his ruling against the 2008 ballot measure, lawyers opposed to gay marriage told a federal appeals court.

In written arguments to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, both sides in the gay marriage legal  dispute debated whether the sexual orientation of retired Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker  might have affected the case.

The 9th Circuit, considering the arguments filed over the last few weeks, has  put Walker’s ruling on hold pending a decision on whether to uphold or overturn it.

Minority judges have long been permitted to preside over civil rights cases affecting their race or ethnicity, and the dispute over Walker’s sexual orientation is likely to clarify the legal rules for gay and lesbian jurists. Walker is openly gay and his sexual orientation was widely known in San Francisco’s legal community. But he did not publicly discuss it until after retiring from the bench in February.

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-- Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times