Legal Weight of Defense Against Marriage Act Challenged by Ruling
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Judge rules in favor of gay couple in bankruptcy case


May 18, 2011

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A judge ruled in the favor of a gay couple who jointly filed for bankruptcy.

A lesbian couple from Fallsburg, New York, recently won a case in U.S. bankruptcy court that may have far reaching implications on the issue of same sex marriage and the validity of the Defense Against Marriage Act, reported the Times Herald-Record.

The women, who the newspaper said asked not to be identified by name, were married in a Vermont civil ceremony in October and jointly filed for bankruptcy soon after as a married couple. The paper said the Office of the United States Trustee initially tried to have the case dismissed on the grounds that DOMA required them to file separate petitions since their marriage was not legally recognized by the federal government.

However, on May 4 a judge in the New York Southern District sided with the couple, ruling that dismissing the bankruptcy was not in their best interest, reported the source. The judge also pointed out that none of the creditors had tried to dismiss the case.

Susan Sommer, the director of constitutional litigation for the gay rights group Lambda Legal, told the paper the case demonstrates how the lives and finances of same sex couples are just as intertwined as heterosexual couples.

"The judge recognized the sheer idiocy of the federal policy that refuses to recognize the reality," Sommer said.

In February, the Obama administration told the Justice Department that it could no longer defend DOMA in court, declaring that the legislation is unconstitutional.

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