50 years in 50 weeks: 1988: AIDS quilt, Judge Walker

  • by BAR staff
  • Wednesday August 4, 2021
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Photo: Courtesy B.A.R. Archive
Photo: Courtesy B.A.R. Archive

The October 13, 1988 issue of the Bay Area Reporter had two interesting stories on the front page. One reported on the AIDS Memorial Quilt returning to Washington, D.C., where 8,288 panels were displayed on the Ellipse in front of the White House. (The quilt's first visit to the nation's capital had been a year earlier, during the National March on Washington; it included 1,920 panels.) The other article reported on the effort of Vaughn Walker to become a federal judge. The Senate Judiciary Committee rejected his nomination, which had been protested by gay and lesbian activists because Walker was the attorney representing the U.S. Olympic Committee in its successful legal battle to prevent the late Dr. Tom Waddell from calling his multisport event the Gay Olympics. (It is called the Gay Games.) Walker was renominated as a federal judge in the Northern District of California in 1989 by then-President George H.W. Bush and the Senate confirmed him. In 2010, Walker presided over the federal trial in San Francisco challenging Proposition 8, California's same-sex marriage ban. Walker ruled the ban was unconstitutional — setting up the resumption of same-sex marriage in 2013 after the case failed to be overturned on appeal. After the trial, Walker came out as a gay man. He retired from the federal bench in 2011.

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