The gay marriage movement scored two victories yesterday in California, with a federal district court judge rejecting conflict-of-interest allegations in the decision to strike down Proposition 8, and a bankruptcy court holding the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.
In federal district court, Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware held that his predecessor, Vaughn Walker, was not biased in his review of California’s same-sex marriage ban by the fact that he was in a long-term relationship with a man, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
"It is not reasonable to presume that a judge is incapable of making an impartial decision about the constitutionality of a law solely because, as a citizen, the judge could be affected by the proceedings," Ware wrote.
In U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California, a judge issued a “rare and sweeping ruling” holding that two legally married men should be allowed to file for bankruptcy jointly and that the Defense of Marriage Act, which would have precluded joint filing, violates the couple’s equal protection rights under the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment, The Recorder reports.
“In this court’s judgment, no legally married couple should be entitled to fewer bankruptcy rights than any other legally married couple,” Judge Thomas Donovan wrote.
Eighteen of Donovan’s 24 colleagues signed onto his ruling, which Penn State Law’s Samuel Bufford, a former bankruptcy judge on that court, called “highly unusual.”
The ruling on Proposition 8 was much less surprising, with legal ethics experts from across the political spectrum dismissing the challenge as “specious as well as desperate,” as Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick put it.