Feds won't fight bankruptcy by married gay couples

By the Associated Press | July 8, 2011 | 5:14 PM EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Justice Department spokeswoman says federal officials no longer plan to contest joint bankruptcy pleadings brought by legally married same-sex couples.

The Obama administration's recent position is that the federal law forbidding government recognition of same-sex unions is unconstitutional. Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said Friday that government lawyers decided letting gay and lesbian couples jointly petition for bankruptcy protection is consistent with that stance.

The policy shift stems from a case involving two California men who got married in 2008.

The U.S. trustee initially fought Gene Balas and Carlos Morales' Chapter 13 plan on the grounds that the federal Defense of Marriage Act prohibited it. But 20 of the 24 bankruptcy judges in Los Angeles disagreed, and the trustee withdrew his appeal of that ruling Wednesday.