A bankruptcy judge for the Central District of California declared DOMA unconstitutional in a ruling on June 13, 2011. 19 other bankruptcy judges in the district signed the ruling in consensus.
The case began when a gay couple in California filed for chapter 13 bankruptcy protection as a married couple. The U.S. Trustee’s Office asked Judge Donovan to dismiss the case on the grounds that DOMA barred the court from recognizing the couple’s marriage.
Judge Donovan declined to dismiss the case, stating in his judgment that “no legally married couple should be entitled to fewer bankruptcy rights than any other legally married couple.” He also wrote that the couple “demonstrated that there is no valid governmental basis for DOMA. In the end, the court finds that DOMA violates the equal protection rights of the debtors as recognized under the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.”
Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said the government would have no comment on the ruling or potential next steps by the department.
Robert Pfister, the attorney who represented the gay couple in bankruptcy court, expects an appeal of the ruling to be filed by the trustee on behalf of members of Congress who want the law to remain in force.
If you are interested in filing for bankruptcy and would like to learn more about the process works, contact a Chicago bankruptcy attorney for more information.