In a recent landmark decision, a Central District of California bankruptcy court has upheld the right of a same-sex married couple to file a joint Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition.
While a few other bankruptcy courts around the country had previously allowed same-sex married couples to file joint bankruptcy petitions, the California case is noteworthy in that a whopping 20 out of 24 bankruptcy judges in the Central District opted to sign an opinion requiring only one judge. The opinion addresses the horrid federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which narrowly defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. After its review of DOMA, the Central District court concludes that it violates the equal protection rights of petitioners under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Whether this decision will be hold up under appeal is unknown. It is also difficult to say whether the other California bankruptcy courts outside of the Central District will follow suit. Finally, it is completely unclear what sway, if any, this decision will have on Oregon and Washington bankruptcy judges. But it is still nice to hear that the Central District got it right.