Is it news that, as two San Francisco Chronicle columnists reported today, the “biggest open secret in the landmark trial over same-sex marriage being heard in San Francisco is that the federal judge who will decide the case, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, is himself gay.”

I don’t think it bears on how he oversaw the case, as many opponents and supporters of Prop 8 argued, but it sure is an interesting piece of information that apparently everyone involved in the litigation and in California’s tight-knit gay activist establishment knew.  (It is curious the columnists didn’t interview any Prop 8 supporters to see what they thought of the news They did. I read the story too quickly). I’ve seen the rumors before, but its interesting to see some actual reporting on the issue.

Walker’s apparent argument is that he doesn’t discuss his personal life but that his sexual orientation isn’t a secret.  That’s a familiar argument used by a lot of people who live in “glass closets” who eventually come out and by others–including Olympic figure skaters, American Idol contestants, and network news anchors–who refuse to talk about the personal lives while not necessarily dispute questions they are gay.

So what role does the media play?  If Walker is gay (or strongly believed to be gay), why has it taken this long for that story to be told? How should such a story be discussed it the press, who fear “outing” a public figure?

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