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From Banking and Finance Law Daily, July 09, 2014

Cordray lays out bureau policy on treatment of same-sex marriages

By Katalina M. Bianco, J.D.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is making clear its stance on the treatment of same-sex marriages in light of the June 26, 2013, Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor striking down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional. The bureau said that it has taken steps to clarify how the high court’s ruling affects the rules under CFPB jurisdiction and what the bureau’s policies are in relation to same-sex marriages.

Cordray memo. CFPB Director Richard Cordray outlined the bureau’s position on the subject of equal treatment for same-sex marriages in a memo to bureau staff. In the memo, Cordray advises bureau personnel on the handling of issues related to lawful same-sex marriages in light of the Windsor decision.

Bureau policy. The bureau’s policy is to recognize all lawful marriages valid at the time of the marriage in the jurisdiction where the marriage was celebrated, a policy that the CFPB says is in alignment with other federal agencies. Therefore, the bureau will regard a person who is married under the laws of any jurisdiction to be married nationwide for purposes of the federal statutes and regulations under the CFPB’s jurisdiction regardless of the place of the person’s residency. Consistent with other federal agencies, the CFPB will not regard a person to be married by virtue of being in a domestic partnership, civil union, or other relationship not designated by law as a marriage.

Implementation of policy. According to the Cordray memo, the CFPB will use and interpret the terms “spouse,” “marriage,” “husband,” “wife,” and any other terms relating to marital status in all statutes, regulations, and policies administered and enforced by the bureau to include same-sex marriages and spouses. The bureau specifically applies this policy to the:

  • Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Regulation B;
  • Fair Debt Collection Practices Act;
  • Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act and Regulation J;
  • Truth in Lending Act and Regulation Z;
  • Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and Regulation X;
  • Bureau Ethics Regulations; and
  • Procedures for Bureau Debt Collection.

The memo spells out which words and phrases in the listed statutes and regulations are used that are affected by the bureau’s policy. These words and phrases include “spouse” and “husband and wife.”

RegulatoryActivity: CFPB DebtCollection EqualCreditOpportunity RESPA TruthInLending

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