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The sponsors of California's gay marriage ban renewed their effort Thursday to disqualify a federal judge because of his same-sex relationship, but they met a skeptical audience in an appeals court panel.

It's the first time an American jurist's sexual orientation has been cited as grounds for overturning a court decision.

Lawyers for a coalition of religious conservative groups told a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker should have revealed he had a long-term male partner before he presided over a trial on the measure's constitutionality. He also should have stated whether he had any interest in getting married, the lawyers said.

Because he did not, Walker's impartiality stands in doubt and the decision he ultimately made to strike down Proposition 8 as a violation of Californians' civil rights must be reversed, said Charles Cooper, an attorney for the ban's backers.




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