You are correct that, for purposes of the financial disclosure forms and PTRs, the term “spouse” has not applied to you. This was required by DOMA, which contains a provision stating that, for purposes of all federal rules and regulations, the term “marriage” is limited to a union between a man and a woman as husband and wife, and the word “spouse” is limited to “a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” The Supreme Court, however, has now struck down that provision. You are right, then, to ask whether the term “spouse” might include you, in which case your spouse would be required to disclose your information on financial disclosure forms and PTRs.
On this question, the answer is not yet clear, as the House Ethics Committee has not issued any public guidance. But, if I were a betting man, I would guess that the term “spouse” for purposes of these forms and reports may well be expanded to include spouses in same-sex marriages as well, at least for members and staffers from states where such marriages are legally recognized.
If my guess is correct, and the term “spouse” is indeed extended to you for purposes of disclosure in the House, I am not sure that I have any great solution to your concern about wanting to avoid publication of your financial affairs. In court decisions, as in marriage, you take the good with the bad.
C. Simon Davidson is a partner with the law firm McGuireWoods. Submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions do not create an attorney-client relationship. Readers should not treat his column as legal advice.