Lawyers target gay marriage ruling by Calif judge

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A retired federal judge's long-term relationship with another man will be the subject of an unusual court hearing involving California's same-sex marriage ban.

Lawyers for the sponsors of the voter-approved ban are scheduled to present arguments Monday aimed at persuading the chief federal judge in San Francisco to vacate the decision issued by his predecessor last year that declared Proposition 8 a violation of gay Californians' civil rights.

Backers of the ban maintain that former Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker should have recused himself or disclosed his relationship status before trial to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Walker publicly revealed after he stepped down from the bench in February that he is gay and in a 10-year-old relationship. Lawyers contend he might have benefited from his ruling if he wanted to marry his partner.

Gay rights advocates say the move to disqualify Walker is the same as questioning the ability of a female judge to consider matters involving gender discrimination.

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