Gay Couple Makes History by Filing for Joint Bankruptcy Help
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Gay Couple Makes History by Filing for Joint Bankruptcy Help

May 6, 2013

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A gay couple in Florida has made national waves by attempting to file for joint bankruptcy in Florida, which does not recognize the validity of their marriage, according to a CNBC report.

Sources say Daniel Maltbie and Garry Houston were married in Vermont, but currently live in Florida, which does not acknowledge same-sex marriage.

But when the couple fell behind on mortgage payments and attempted to file for bankruptcy, a Florida bankruptcy court questioned whether they were eligible for the same joint bankruptcy benefits as other married couples.

According to CNBC, Florida and states that do not recognize same-sex marriages have never addressed the issue of whether gay couples can file for joint bankruptcy, so Maltbie and Houston have inadvertently become pioneers.

Thanks to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex couples who are married in one state do not necessarily receive the benefits of that marriage in other states, which can choose their own policies related to same-sex couples.

The Supreme Court plans to rule on the constitutionality of the law later this summer, but that doesn’t help Maltbie and Houston, who are trying to file for bankruptcy today.

According to sources, Maltbie and Houston have held property together for 30 years, and believe the court should acknowledge the practical benefits of allowing them to file for bankruptcy together.

Florida law, however, forbids same-sex couples from joint bankruptcy filings, despite the fact that some gay couples have quietly snuck through the system in the past, according to one Florida bankruptcy lawyer.

Sources say the bankruptcy trustee in charge of the case has asked for two to three weeks before making a decision. And beyond the potential social ramifications of their case, Maltbie and Houston are also simply concerned with shedding their debt.

Sources say they owe roughly $75,000 to several creditors, and would be able to save nearly $2,000 if they are allowed to file a single bankruptcy petition.

Both men are on disability, and Maltbie receives regular pension payments, but they had to walk away from their Kansas home last year after falling behind on their mortgage payments, according to sources.


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