Kentucky Male Couple’s Joint Bankruptcy Gives Legal Weight to Their N.Y. Marriage
Kentucky may not recognize same-sex marriage but a federal judge has ruled that a gay couple, who married in New York, can file for joint bankruptcy in the state, the Courier-Journal reported.
It is believed that Bob Joles, 48, and Joey Lester, 47, are the first gay married couple to file for joint bankruptcy in Kentucky.
The couple, together for 16 years and married on May 9 in Buffalo, N.Y., lost more than $200,000 they invested in a market located in downtown Louisville.
After losing the money, the couple was allowed to file a joint Chapter 13 bankruptcy in federal court because the Justice Department said last year that the United States trustee, the department’s division that manages bankruptcy code, could no longer oppose joint bankruptcy filings by married same-sex couples. This is because the Obama administration does not challenge such requests.
Nanda Chitre, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, said the department will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act when it is challenged in lawsuits and that the department decided not to fight bankruptcy filings from same-sex couples because House Republican lawyers have not challenged bankruptcy filings.
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R) said it would be too expensive and that bankruptcy cases are "unlikely to provide the path to the Supreme Court, where we imagine the question of constitutionality will ultimately be decided," the Courier-Journal points out.
Shannon Fauver, the couple’s lawyer, said the court’s ruling, "gives them protections they didn’t have before. It is a big deal." Fauver also said she plans to file a bankruptcy petition for a married lesbian couple soon.
"It made our marriage seem more real," Joles, who ran the market and is now unemployed, said. "And it forced the court to recognize us as a married couple."’