Bankruptcy Court rules Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional

LOS ANGELES -- The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California ruled late Monday that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, granting a legally married gay couple a joint Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

The case involves a bankruptcy filing by Gene Douglas Balas and Carlos A. Morales of Los Angeles, who were married on Aug. 20, 2008. Balas and Morales were among about 18,000 same-gender couples who legally wed until the passage of Proposition 8 in November 2008 took away marriage equality in California.

The court concluded:

The Debtors have demonstrated that DOMA violates their equal protection rights afforded under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, either under heightened scrutiny or under rational basis review. Debtors also have demonstrated that there is no valid governmental basis for DOMA. In the end, the court finds that DOMA violates the equal protection rights of the Debtors as recognized under the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.

The case was filed on Feb. 24, one day after Attorney General Eric Holder outlined the Obama administration's position that Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional and that the federal government would no longer defend DOMA cases in court. Holder sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, and he and his fellow Republicans decided they would defend DOMA in court.

Apparently to stress how strongly the Bankruptcy Court felt on this ruling, the opinion was signed by 20 bankruptcy judges in the Central District of California, an overwhelming majority on the court.

To read the full court ruling, click HERE.

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