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Bankruptcy Court: Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional

Bankruptcy Court: Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California released an opinion Monday finding Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional when applied in a case where a same-sex couple jointly filed for bankruptcy.

The case involved a bankruptcy filing brought by Gene Douglas Balas and Carlos A. Morales who have been married since 2008. The joint bankruptcy filing was challenged by the United States Trustee with a motion to dismiss because the filing was made jointly by two men “in violation of DOMA’s definition of “spouse” as the statute applies to Bankruptcy Code § 302(a).”

This challenge was made in February, one day after the Obama administration issued notice that it would no longer defend Section 3 of the federal gay marriage ban because, after careful review, they found it to be unconstitutional.

The House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), spearheaded by Republican House leaders, has since taken up defense of Section 3. Lawyers working on behalf of BLAG asked for a continuance in the case but, as the court release notes, they made no further move to intervene.

Therefore, the court examined the motion to dismiss on the grounds of current law and without defense from BLAG. As such, 20 of the 25 judges agreed to dismiss the challenge because they found that denying the bankruptcy filing per DOMA Section 3, and therein relegating the same-sex couple’s marriage to a lesser status, to be unconstitutional.

From the opinion (h/t to Metro Weekly):

This court cannot conclude from the evidence or the record in this case that any valid governmental interest is advanced by DOMA as applied to the Debtors. Debtors have urged that recent governmental defenses of the statute assert that DOMA also serves such interests as “preserving the status quo,” “eliminating inconsistencies and easing administrative burdens” of the government. None of these post hoc defenses of DOMA withstands heightened scrutiny. In the court’s final analysis, the government’s only basis for supporting DOMA comes down to an apparent belief that the moral views of the majority may properly be enacted as the law of the land in regard to state-sanctioned same-sex marriage in disregard of the personal status and living conditions of a significant segment of our pluralistic society. Such a view is not consistent with the evidence or the law as embodied in the Fifth Amendment with respect to the thoughts expressed in this decision. The court has no doubt about its conclusion: the Debtors have made their case persuasively that DOMA deprives them of the equal protection of the law to which they are entitled.

To read the court’s full opinion, please click here.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) announced Tuesday that they were filing an ethics complaint against House Speaker Rep John Boehner (R-OH) regarding his appropriating funds for a legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act without knowing where those funds could be taken from, something that CREW says violates the Antideficiency Act. Read more on that here.

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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to alex-s.

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37 comments

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9:06AM PST on Jan 11, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

12:50AM PST on Dec 1, 2012

Antonia, it seems lesbianism is extremely safe, compared to the HIV transmission by men and semen, although nothing is fail proof. I think if men are from Mars and women are from Venus, lesbianism is better, and women are more civilized than men, but that is just an opinion, not theology.

12:45AM PST on Dec 1, 2012

Linda Ellerbee on ABC News Our World used the term "crumbling stone" to refer to changing opinions before the Brown vs. the Board of Education Topeka Kansas decision. I think stone is crumbling with regard to DOMA too.

2:50PM PST on Nov 29, 2012

"civil rights what a bunch of baloney.
lets make sure we make every special group/
class of people happy no matter what it takes
you may get votes and re-elected.
Big daddy obuma will take care of you all."

You do realize how stupid that is, right? You're the one who wants different groups treated differently. Of course if haters thought rationally they wouldn't be haters, would they?

5:20AM PDT on Aug 23, 2011

good news

12:24PM PDT on Aug 2, 2011

Poor Larry O.! I pity you for not getting the correct spelling of the Presidents last name.

5:16PM PDT on Jun 19, 2011

Poor haters can't win for losing.

Why don't they just give up already?

Their anti-gay animus and the laws they've desperately tried to enact to solidify it, is going down in flames so fast that you'd think they'd stop wasting their and everybody elses time and money trying to prop it up.

5:12AM PDT on Jun 18, 2011

Money talks...

7:41PM PDT on Jun 17, 2011

For those interested:

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, who was a Baptist minister and a Christian socialist. Bellamy viewed his Pledge as an inoculation that would protect immigrants and native-born Americans from the 'virus' of radicalism and subversion.

The original Pledge of Allegiance was published in the Sept. 8 issue of the popular children's magazine 'The Youth's Companion'.

It was modified 4 times, with the last modification in 1954, inserting _under God_.

7:29PM PDT on Jun 17, 2011

@ Brian; Thank you sir. I appreciate the appreciation.

@ Larry Owens; actually, they're trying to do just the opposite. The Constitution guarantees the SAME rights to everyone.
Just because you haven't run in to a situation yet where you've been denied something you deserve doesn't mean everybody is in your shoes.
I'm just guessing, but I'll bet nobody ever beat your butt because you're black.
I'll also bet nobody ever offered you a job for 60% of what your buddys made at the same job. You're not a woman.
If your 'girlfriend' gives you a B/J, hey, that's just great sex.................unless YOUR 'girlfriend' is a guy in which case you might both be lynched.
'SPECIAL GROUPS' Larry?

No, just one group.

Citizens of the United States endowed by their creator to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Before indulging your prejudices and bigotry, please take this lesson from a wiser man than I:

The "Golden Rule" has been attributed to Jesus of Nazareth: "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them" (Matthew 7:12, see also Luke 6:31).

If the only thing you accomplish in your life is living by this rule alone, you'll be a fine, happy human being.
Your friends and neighbors will speak of your acquaintance with gratitude.

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