Lesbian Judges Can’t Rule on Gay Marriage?


Anti-marriage equality groups fighting a case in which several couples have challenged Illinois’ ban on same-sex marriage say that the presiding judge, Judge Sophia Hall, should recuse herself because she is a lesbian.

Reports On Top Magazine:

Professor Rena Lindevaldsen, associate dean at the Liberty University School of Law, said Hall represented a conflict of interest.

“Judge Hall is presiding over a case that seeks to fundamentally alter the meaning of marriage in Illinois,” Lindevaldsen said. “As a Charter Member of the Alliance of Illinois Judges, which is an organization dedicated to LGBT causes, she has an obvious conflict of interest. Pursuant to the Illinois Code of Judicial Conduct, a judge must disqualify herself in any case where her ‘impartiality might reasonably be questioned.’ (Rule 63-Cannon 3). If the tables were turned and she was a charter member of an organization that had as its mission to overturn Roe v. Wade and she was presiding over a case where the validity of Roe was in question, there would be incredible outcry to have her removed from the case. Given the significance of the case before her, Judge Hall should take steps to avoid even the perception of a conflict of interest, and recuse herself.”

Hall, of the Cook County Circuit Court, is indeed a member of the Alliance of Illinois Judges, but the aim of the group is not to blanket promote LGBT causes, but rather to “promote and encourage respect and unbiased treatment for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) individuals as they relate to the judiciary, the legal profession and the administration of justice.”

Hall’s part in the group would appear entirely germane to her profession and would not prevent her from considering the case on its merits. Indeed, supporters have praised her in the past for her even and careful deliberation. Therefore, one must question whether it is Hall’s affiliation with the group or in fact her sexuality to which Liberty University School of Law is objecting.

In a case related to the Proposition 8 trial, a federal judge ruled that to vacate a ruling based on the presiding judge’s being gay would set a new and dangerous standard, and demand a level of disclosure from the judiciary that had not been seen before. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling. With this in mind, the Liberty University School of Law would seem to be setting an entirely unreasonable standard when they demand that a judge “should take steps to avoid even the perception of a conflict of interest,” especially when one reads that they are a law school ”committed to academic and professional excellence in the context of the Christian intellectual tradition” but have not called for any Christian judges to recuse themselves in cases like this.

Illinois faces two, now combined, lawsuits challenging the state’s prohibition on same-sex marriage, they are: Lazaro and Matos v. Orr, which represents nine same-sex couples, and Darby v. Orr, which represents 16 gay and lesbian couples.

Illinois’ Attorney General’s office, alongside the Cook County office, has conceded the state’s ban on gay marriage is unlawful when squared with the Illinois constitution’s explicit demands for equality. As such, both have refused to defend the law in court.

Judge Hall however granted two county clerks the chance to intervene in the case and put forward a defense of the gay marriage ban.


Related Reading:

Trans Woman Sues For Alleged Police Harassment

Diocese Puts Religious Dogma Before Helping the Homeless

Illinois Lawmakers Introduce Gay Marriage Legislation

Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to Joe Gratz.


Michael T.
Michael T5 years ago

@ Stevie R blurts foolishly "Lesbian Judges Can’t Rule on Gay Marriage?"....


"Judge" - an IMPARTIAL law enforcement officer.

It is all the more laughable that you cannot even see how stupid your comment is. Thanks Stevie, I needed another laugh. DUH!

One's sexuality, whether it is the accepted norm by religious bigots, or not has nothing to do with one's ability to be impartial. That you can't see that while defending on heterosexual judges is a testimony to your abject disregard for rational sane thought. Keep it up poster boy.

Ian J.
Ian James5 years ago

What BS... We elevate people to positions of trust, then mistrust them without cause..

Robert K.
Robert K5 years ago

Well, if lesbian judges can't be non partisan can straight ones be either? The answer is obviously that homophobes are sub human.

Richard M.
Richard M.5 years ago

If this judge was a white baptist man, stereotypical of people opposing gay marraige, these same people would not be complaining. So, because this individual is gay is OK by me. Once in a while, the pendulum swings the other way. I believe this judge is more likely than a white baptist man to vote in favor of gay marraige and HURRAY for that. The religious right have had their way for too long, now it is time for them to be put in their place (the middle ages)

Anita Wisch
Anita Wisch5 years ago

Steve R. - go away..........

Ivy Taylor
Yvonne Taylor5 years ago

pandora G.,
I totally agree that people should not be controlling bigots. I do warn you that when you categorize as well, you do no justice to your beliefs however. NOT ALL " straight people" fall into the category of "self righteous homophobes", please try to remember that next time you make a statement :) The ones who are, have grown up with indoctrination of misinformation and bigotry which gets passed on from generation to generation. What will stop this cycle?... bad mouthing and bashing, like they do, probably will not. Something to think about. Education and understanding of each other is the key. We all must vote for those politicians who will not further hatred and prejudice and treat others with understanding. I agree it is hard, I also want to yell out at bigots, but in the end, how will it help?

Michele Mihlack
Michele Mihlack5 years ago

excuse me??? I have a question here....how can someone who is LGBT be "un-impartial" comparing to a straight person? I mean we all are different, have our own views, our own lives, etc...we AREN'T supposed to be TELLING others how to live their lives....so what are we doing??? We are trying to make the government get involved...why??? Why can't we all just live happily as we wish...how we wish...with whom we wish to be with or wish to not be with? Why is it so HARD for those who are STRAIGHT to understand that some of us are different, you straights are different too...just because the sexual preferences are not the same doesn't mean (OR IT SHOULDN'T matter to you) anything...as we all are behind closed doors...I'm glad honestly there are more and more people being open about their sexual preferences....NOW just need to get the STRAIGHTS to stop telling us how we should live.

Arleen B.
Arleen B5 years ago

OK, then. So the way I see it, in order to keep our courts evenly ruled, ALL we have to do is make straight judges recuse themselves fro any ruling about straight marriages!!! We do want our judges to be IMPARTIAL right?????

Really SIMPLE solution to the problem and fair enough for all judges!

Steve R.
Steve R5 years ago

"Lesbian Judges Can’t Rule on Gay Marriage?"....


"Judge" - an IMPARTIAL law enforcement officer.

jo Howard
jo Howard5 years ago

If a Lesbian presiding judge cannot rule on gay marriages ... then how will that be any more fair or better for a Straight presiding judge to rule on gay marriages? IT WON'T! ...
Is someone attempting to say that Straight judges are more impartial? …Get real, get a life!
I truly dislike these anti-equality bigots more and more, not that I had ever like them in the first place.