DOMA ruled unconstitutional by bankruptcy court

A federal bankruptcy court in California on Monday ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles ruled that it is discriminatory to prevent a legally married same-sex couple from filing for joint bankruptcy.

The couple, Gene Balas and Carlos Morales, filed a joint chapter 13 petition. They were married in 2008 in California and remain legally married.

In his ruling, the judge wrote: “This case is about equality, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, for two people who filed for protection under Title 11 of the United States Code (Bankruptcy Code).”

It is “undisputed that the Debtors are a lawfully married California couple,” the judge wrote, adding that the couple came to the court to restructure and repay their debt following extended illnesses and long periods of unemployment.

The U.S. trustee for the case filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that two men cannot file jointly for bankruptcy. The judge ruled the trustee did not ask for dismissal based on one of the 11 causes listed in bankruptcy law to dismiss, but simply because the couple are two men.

The judge said the trustee filed no relevant case law supporting his position and said the couple should not be singled out for discriminatory treatment. He cited the Obama administration’s position that DOMA is unconstitutional and ruled that, indeed it is.

—  David Taffet

Borders to close West Village store

You may have heard Borders books is in dire straits owing millions to publishers and having thus declared bankruptcy. But now we hear that the West Village store is among 10 stores in Texas to be closed. NBC posted on their site that clearance sales could start as soon as this weekend at the stores marked for closure.

The West Village location has already posted this on their site:

This store is expected to close no later than the end of April. We?ve enjoyed serving the many customers who have shopped this store over the years. Please use our Store Locator to find another store in your area, or purchase from our vast selection of books and other merchandise here on Borders.com.

What sucks is that pulls another bookstore out of the gayborhood. Crossroads Bookstore’s closing a few years ago was monumental to the ‘hood because that was the gay bookstore of Dallas. Half Price Books used to have a location off Oak Lawn as well. Borders in West Village has a respectable LGBT section, and its closure is a bummer for the neighborhood — gay and straight.

The Preston location in Dallas is also the home for the Lesbian Book Club, which meets monthly. I’ve called their contact number for a response but only reached voicemail.

—  Rich Lopez

A&P Files For Bankruptcy

The 151 year-old Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, which operates 400 grocery stores under the names A&P, Food Emporium, Pathmark and others, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The company said it will have access to 0 million in debtor-in-possession financing and that all of its stores are fully stocked and open for business. The company said that it determined that it could not complete its turnaround plan without filing for bankruptcy protection. The filing was widely anticipated. The company’s stock price fell more than 67 percent on Friday, and trading was halted in the afternoon. Shares have traded between 86 cents and in the past 52 weeks.

The first A&P store opened in NYC in 1859 and the company remains the dominant grocery chain in the metro area. If my Food Emporium goes under, I’ll have to shop at….Gristedes. Shudder.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

More than a month later, owner still seeking approval from city for new gay bar on Maple

Owner Keith Lackie stands inside Klub Wet in October holding a plaque he received to commemorate the bar’s opening — an opening that never happened.

Keith Lackie is frustrated and angry. Pretty soon, he says, he might also be bankrupt.

Lackie was set to open Klub Wet, a new gay bar on Maple Avenue, at the end of October. But then the city of Dallas refused to issue him a certificate of occupancy, saying he didn’t have sufficient parking. Lackie has two separate remote parking agreements for property across the street owned by Crow Holdings. But he says Crow Holdings is attempting to get out of the agreements because they want to use the property for their own redevelopment.

Lackie says he’s invested $150,000 to remodel the building that once housed Illusions, at 4100 Maple Ave. Klub Wet would fulfill a dream that Lackie had with his partner, Andy Primm, who died last year. Much of the money for the bar came from his partner’s life insurance policy.

For the last five weeks, Lackie and city building officials have gone round and round over the parking situation. Finally, last week, Lackie claims they agreed to a resolution whereby Lackie would wall off a section of the club to reduce the square-footage so he doesn’t need as much parking. But now he says the city is refusing to give him a final OK, and he’s convinced it’s due to opposition from Crow Holdings.

“We came up with a resolution and they’re still sitting on it,” Lackie told Instant Tea on Thursday. “It’s ridiculous, and in the meantime I’m on the brink of bankruptcy. I think the reason they’re putting it off is they’re waiting for Trammel Crow to come back with a different plan. They’re waiting for Trammell Crow [Crow Holdings] to tell them what to do next to prevent me from opening.”

Representatives from Crow Holdings failed to returned numerous phone calls from Instant Tea seeking comment about the matter over the last month. City Councilwoman Pauline Medrano, who represents the area, also hasn’t returned our phone calls. Medrano’s assistant referred questions to city building officials.

Phil Sikes, an assistant building official for the city, said Thursday that his department is still researching the history of the Klub Wet property and the parking agreements. Sikes said he hopes to have an answer on Lackie’s latest proposal by next week.

Sikes said it appears as though one of the two parking agreements with Crow Holdings is valid, while the other is not. The city is now trying to determine how many “delta credits” — grandfathered parking from before the city required it — Klub Wet should receive.

The investigation, Sikes said, is complicated by changing uses of the building over the years, an illegal expansion in the 1990s and other factors.

“It really is just a mess,” Sikes said. “We understand his situation is that he’s ready to open his business. He’s sank a tremendous amount of money into it, and every day he’s not open, he’s losing money. We get that.”

But Sikes denied that opposition from Crow Holdings has anything to do with the delay.

“They don’t talk to us about this stuff,” Sikes said. “We don’t go talk to them. Whoever the neighbor is doesn’t matter to us. We’re trying to make a determination based off the records.”

Lackie says if he doesn’t hear something soon he plans to take his story to the mainstream media and demand an investigation.

“I can tell you from the conversations that I’ve had with people at different events and the clubs around town, everybody thinks the city and Trammell Crow are colluding, and probably that the city has their hands in Trammell Crow’s pockets,” Lackie said. “Trammell Crow doesn’t want a gay bar in their front yard. The city is grasping at straws, at any little thing they can come up with to keep me from opening, so that Trammell Crow gets what they want. I guarantee it.”

—  John Wright

Schuller’s megachurch Crystal Cathedral Ministries seeks bankruptcy protection

I guess God wasn’t taking any calls during this recession…Schuller’s house of worship didn’t qualify for a heavenly bail out.

The Southern California megachurch Crystal Cathedral Ministries will enter bankruptcy, as it faces lawsuit-filing creditors and a rapid decline in donations because of the recession, church officials announced Monday.

An unspecified small number of creditors have sued the church and obtained writs of attachment, said church spokesman John Charles.

…”Challenging situations are nothing new to our 55-year ministry,” said Dr. Sheila Schuller Coleman, senior pastor at the church.

“In 1977, countless persons predicted that our plans to build a 2,800-seat all-glass church in earthquake-prone Southern California would never get off the ground, but we have made history,” Coleman added. “Our announcement today to file for the protection of Chapter 11 is just one more chapter in the book that he is continuing to write — and we know that God’s plans are good — we have no doubt his chapter will be good!”

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright