In an upcoming book by Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Jo Becker, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker, who struck down California’s Proposition 8, declaring it unconstitutional, revealed that he underwent conversion therapy when he was younger, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Walker, who came out publicly after he ruled against the anti-gay measure, said he had to hold back tears during the 2010 trial when witnesses described their painful experiences while going through the controversial therapy, which some believe can "turn" a gay person straight despite psychiatric organizations label the method harmful.
Walker says he can’t recall much of the therapy, but it was determined he was not gay because he had yet to have sex with another man. The judge said the psychiatrist "pronounced me cured" and that he "wanted to believe that was true."
He goes on to detail how the therapy impacted his life -- he carried on "faux romances" with women and had didn’t have his first relationship with a man until his late 30s. He was planning to come out publicly but decided not to when he found himself representing the U.S. Olympic Committee in a suit against a San Francisco organization that wanted to call its athletic event the Gay Olympics.
After becoming a judge, he "began to live a little more openly," visiting a gay bar and bring his partner to social events. He didn’t come out to the public, however, until April 2011 more than two years after he retired.
When Walker did come out, those who oppose same-sex marriage and backed Prop 8 wanted to have his ruling thrown out because he was not "impartial" due to his sexuality. The challenge was heard but ultimately dismissed by a judge.