A federal judge gave a same-sex couple in Lexington the permission to file for joint bankruptcy, despite the fact that their state does not recognize gay marriage.
After a 16 year relationship, Bob Joles and Joel Lester married in New York, one out six states that allow same-sex unions.
The couple became deeply in debt after they lost $200,000 in a market, The Bodega, which is located in downtown Louisville. The couple then decided to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Typically the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) would prevent a gay couple from filing joint bankruptcy, but the Obama Administration if no longer challenging such filings.
DOMA was passed in 1996 and forbids federal authorities from recognizing then legitimacy of same-sex marriages, but last year a California bankruptcy court declared DOMA unconstitutional setting a precedent which can lead to future filings. In that landmark ruling, one judge stated, “In this court’s judgment, no legally married couple should be entitled to fewer bankruptcy rights than any other married couple.”
Anti-gay marriage activists were outraged by the court’s decision. DOMA-related cases are often challenged at the direction of John Boehner and the House’s Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, but they generally don’t appeal bankruptcy cases involving same-sex couples.
Rep. Stan Lee (R) said “For a bankruptcy trustee and judge to allow this to go forward in the Commonwealth of Kentucky is an affront to the citizens of this state who spoke loudly in 2004 when they passed the marriage amendment.”
Although the couple benefited financially from the joint filing, the real benefit was the legal recognition of their marriage.
“It made our marriage seem more real,” Joles said, “And it forced the court to recognize us a married couple.”
A bankruptcy attorney gives single filers and couples the opportunity to clear up their debts and have a fresh financial state