A look back over the last 4 years and my personal involvement with the legal aspects of working with the LGBT community.
As long as I have been practicing law I have been assisting the LGBT community with things from wills to traffic tickets. In the Spring of 2012 I was hired to represent two men for their bankruptcies. They were planning on filing their bankruptcies separately, as the idea of filing as a same-sex couple had not occurred to them as this was before the Obama administration had stated that DOMA (The Defense of Marriage Act) would no longer be enforced federally.
At that point, no one had filed a same-sex married bankruptcy case in Kentucky. I’m not sure where, if anywhere, it had been done at that point in time. I met with this couple and talked to them about filing as a married couple, which they were, and worst case scenario for them, they would have pay two filing fees. I didn’t charge them more than I would have for any other couple filing, as I was choosing to take on this fight.
About a week before we filed this case, Eric Holder stated that the Federal Government would no longer be enforcing the part of DOMA that stated that marriage is defined as being between one man and one woman. The case was filed with the bankruptcy Court in Louisville on June 5, 2012. At first, the case went along just like any other, but then there was a snag as the Court in Kentucky had not been asked type of joint bankruptcy go forward as of yet. Other bankruptcy courts in other parts of the country were having similar cases get filed, but this was a first for Kentucky and the federal circuit we were a part of.
So, we ended up writing briefs and having hearings in front of a bankruptcy judge to see if this could go forward. Between the filing of this case in June and the hearing on October 22, 2012, other similar cases were being heard across the country. A few days before the hearing, the Supreme Court decided to take the Windsor case, which was to be decided in the Spring of 2013. That case, as we now know, impacted the recognition of same-sex marriages in the Federal system. Bankruptcy cases are governed by federal law and heard in federal court. So, at the hearing on October 22, 2012, I asked that the judge hold the case until the US Supreme Court decided the Windsor case.
Following the ruling of Windsor on June, June 26, 2013, bankruptcy courts across the country had to recognize same-sex marriages and everyone that is married is treated the same, regardless of their gender.