CREATED May. 1, 2013
Fort Myers, Fla.- They're married, they're gay, and they're bankrupt. A Southwest Florida couple says they were shocked to discover their sexuality would play such a crucial role in filing for bankruptcy.
It's never happened before in the State of Florida, a gay couple who was legally married up north then moved here, have now filed bankruptcy- here.
But it may get thrown out because Florida doesn't recognize gay marriage.
"They have problems with filing joint tax returns with getting certain types of inheritance, with getting social security benefits that a straight married couple would be able to get," says Brian Zinn, the attorney Gary Houston and Daniel Maltbie. They know that's true because they've been married for ten years and together for 30.
"People don't realize a lot of the things that same sex couples go through,” said Daniel Maltbie, “the amount of added taxes and so much more."
They moved to Fort Myers from Kansas last summer. "The little town we moved from, we were the only gay couple, the only mixed couple. Myself and my oldest grandson were the only two black people within a 50 mile radius.”
In Kansas, they owned rental properties but things didn't turn out the way they planned and recently they were forced to file bankruptcy. "The bankruptcy laws say that any married couple can file bankruptcy but Florida doesn't recognize a gay marriage as a valid marriage," adds Zinn.
Same sex marriage is legal in nine states and the District of Columbia but not in Florida. Now they're fighting to get what they say is rightfully theirs and that's according to bankruptcy laws. "It's allowed to be filed by a debtor and a debtor's spouse. It doesn't say that the spouse has to be of the opposite sex," said Zinn.
Since their case was just filed they don't know what will happen. If the bankruptcy goes through it'll be a first, if it doesn't it'll be a first. “I'd be very proud, very proud. I don't want to file bankruptcy but I'd be proud that it would be honored within a same sex couple," Maltbie chimed in.
Zinn believes the trustee's decision will come down in a few weeks. When it does we will let you know how it will turn out.
Copyright, 2013 WFTX