Special immigration rights are available! Heterosexual married couples are free to enjoy a select group of rights that are available only to heterosexual married couples. That is because, although marriage equality has been passed in 20% of the states, the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibits the federal government from recognizing such marriage equality.
Since the nation’s immigration policy takes into account the marital status of potential immigrants, DOMA has had an especially chilling effect on the lives of binational gay and lesbian couples. President Obama has indicated that he stands for all families by refusing to defend the constitutionality of DOMA in the Supreme Court. If that fails, he has vowed to remedy the plight of binational gay and lesbian couples by addressing it in his plan for comprehensive immigration reform.
The President’s allies in Congress were listening. In February,Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont introduced legislation to allow same-sex couples to petition for Permanent Residence, also known as obtaining a Green Card, based on a valid relationship between the two.
In a recent Senate hearing, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano answered questions from the committee about the impact of the proposed legislation. Specifically, Leahy asked Napolitano about the perception that allowing same-sex couples to sponsor their spouses for permanent residence will increase the amount of immigration fraud.
Napolitano replied that detecting fraud, even among heterosexual marriages, was her agency’s number one concern. She voiced doubt that the sexes of the individuals that make up a couple could make any difference on the quality of work performed by the Department of Homeland Security.
The Committee also heard from award-winning Filipino journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, who resides in the United State out of status. Vargas spoke to the pain that so many gays and lesbians endure when they are forced out of, or refused entry to, this country, even though they may be in a committed long term relationship.
The best case scenario for American democracy and the rights of all women and men would be the utter rejection of DOMA by the Supreme Court. Even if that does not happen, there is another chance for change when the Court rules on the constitutionality of California’s ban on marriage equality.
If, against all odds, the Court is not ready to grant marriage equality to all Americans, then the comprehensive immigration reform that is so desperately needed will, hopefully, address the hardship and plight of gay and lesbian couples.
We have decades of experience crafting advanced directives, Wills and durable powers of attorney. Make sure you protect yourself and your loved ones, no matter what state you find yourself travelling through. Contact us today or call (201) 770-9990.by