DOJ Gives Congress "Fair" Shot at DOMA Defense

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com June 30 2011 6:25 PM ET

The federal government has decided to appeal a bankruptcy court's decision that found the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

U.S. bankruptcy judge Thomas Donovan ruled earlier this month that gay and lesbian couples should be able to file for bankruptcy protection together and that DOMA is unconstitutional. The ruling was in reference to Gene Balas and Carlos Morales, who were legally married in California in 2008 and had filed for bankruptcy protection under Title 11 of the U.S. Code. The couple had been struggling financially after dealing with serious illnesses and unemployment. The United States Trustee moved to dismiss this case, citing DOMA.

Under the direction of President Obama, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the day before Balas and Morales's bankruptcy filing that it would no longer defend DOMA in court. While the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group has decided to defend DOMA in court on the government's behalf, it has not yet intervened in this case.

Instead, the Department of Justice filed to appeal the ruling Monday. Assistant U.S. Trustee Jill Sturtevant wrote that the DOJ "is interested in providing Congress a full and fair opportunity to participate in this and other cases," according to the Associated Press.