For the first time ever, Judge Vaughn Walker verified his sexual orientation publicly in an interview with reporters. He also said it would have been inappropriate to recuse himself from Perry v Schwarzenegger (now Brown) because he’s gay, saying “That’s a very slippery slope.”

The Reuters article also recaps highlights of Judge Walker’s career as a bit of an iconoclast, including his infamous “I stole mail” punishment to a convicted mail thief:

He made for an unpredictable jurist, ruling against the government in a widely watched state secrets case. In another matter that has become lore at the San Francisco federal courthouse, Walker sentenced a mail thief to stand outside a post office, carrying a sign with the words: “I stole mail. This is my punishment.”

But it is Judge Walker’s public acknowledgment that he’s gay, and his statement that he has a partner of ten years, that is likely to rekindle the religious right’s laughable and specious ‘conflict of interest’ argument — as if a heterosexual judge wouldn’t have a stake in preserving the sanctity of her/his own marriage, to use the religionists’ own language against marriage equality.

It was also the first time Walker publicly acknowledged his own sexual orientation. Walker said he has been in a relationship with the man for 10 years. “He is a physician,” Walker said.