U.S. District Judge Michael McShane said that while he is gay, he "would receive no personal benefit in the ruling," from today's court hearing over a national group's request to defend Oregon's ban on same-sex marriage.
After his ruling from the bench, McShane addressed NOM's contention that he should consider recusing himself from the case because of his sexual orientation. In a blog post in April, NOM lawyer John Eastman wrote that McShane's sexuality raised "troubling questions about his impartiality,"
But on Wednesday, McShane said half-jokingly that on the surface, he seems to have plenty of common ground with Eastman, the lawyer for NOM. After all, they are both middle-aged white men who have spent most of their careers practicing law.
More seriously, the judge said he understood that his personal life parallels that some of the plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit against Oregon's ban, but he said he's never attended rallies, made public statements or donated money to organizations in support of same-sex marriage.
"I certainly understand my ongoing duty as a judge," he said.
According to a recent profile by The Oregonian's Jeff Mapes, McShane grew up in a conservative Catholic family in rural Eastern Washington. He came to Portland with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and worked with parolees and homeless clients and later attended law school. After working with the Metropolitan Public Defender, he became a pro-tem judge in 1997 and a Full Circuit Judge in 2001. He has served as a federal judge for less than a year.
McShane declined to be interviewed for Mapes' profile, but former Multnomah County District Attorney Michael Schrunk described him as "fair but not a pushover."
McShane is one of nine openly gay judges in the federal judiciary, but he won't be the first to make a ruling on a state's same-sex marriage ban -- U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker overturned California's ban in 2010.
This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.