Recently same sex marriage has made the news with Supreme Court opinions striking down California’s proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage and striking down a part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). What most people don’t know is that this battle has already been fought in the bankruptcy courts. In 2008 a married same sex couple filed a joint bankruptcy petition in Los Angeles. The United States Trustee asked the bankruptcy court to dismiss the case, citing DOMA. The bankruptcy court allowed the couple to proceed in bankruptcy, stating that DOMA was unconstitutional. Two years later, the federal government shifted its policy and announced it would no longer enforce DOMA. As a result, the United States Trustee stopped opposing bankruptcies by married same-sex couple. In 2012, a married same sex couple in Kentucky successfully filed a joint bankruptcy even though the state where they lived did not recognize their marriage.
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