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CFPB Issues Same-Sex Marriage Memorandum

on Monday, 18 August 2014 in Banking Update

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB” or “Bureau”) issued a memorandum on June 25, 2014 (“Memorandum”) regarding the Bureau’s position on the Bureau’s recognition of same-sex marriage. The Bureau noted that on June 26, 2013 in United States v. Windsor, 133 S.Ct. 2675 (2013) the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional. Section 3 of the Act provided: “In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

The Memorandum described the Bureau’s policy in respect to the CFPB’s recognition of lawful marriages of same-sex couples for purposes of the statutes, regulations, and policies enforced, administered, and interpreted by the Bureau. Specifically, the Bureau stated that its policy, to the extent federal law permits, and consistent with the position of the Department of Justice in interpreting applicable statutes, regulations and policies, is to recognize all marriages valid at the time of the marriage in the jurisdiction where the marriage took place. As a result, any person who is married in a jurisdiction that legally recognizes same-sex marriage will be recognized nationwide for the statutes and regulations under the CFPB’s jurisdiction, regardless of the person’s place of residency. However, the Bureau noted that consistent with other federal agencies, the CFPB will not consider persons married by virtue of being in a domestic partnership, civil union, or other relationship not denominated by law as married for purposes of its policy.

Accordingly, the Bureau will apply the policy described above to the following statutes and regulations:

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


Under the policy, the Bureau will use and interpret the terms “spouse,” “marriage,” “married,” “husband,” “wife,” and any other similar terms in the statutes and regulations listed above to include same-sex marriages and same-sex spouses.

Terrence P. Maher

Grayson J. Derrick

1700 Farnam Street | Suite 1500 | Omaha, NE 68102 | 402.344.0500