Integrity Legal

Archive for the ‘lgbt immigration’ Category

26th July 2013

It has come to this blogger’s attention that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has issued a new set of answers to frequently asked questions stemming from the recent decision by the United States Supreme Court which overturned Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In previous postings on this blog the fact that lawful permanent residents and American Citizens with same-sex spouses can now file for immigration benefits for their same sex spouse has been discussed at length. That said, USCIS discussed this issue in their recently issued FAQ release, to quote directly from the USCIS website:

Q1: I am a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in a same-sex marriage to a foreign national. Can I now sponsor my spouse for a family-based immigrant visa?
A1: Yes, you can file the petition. You may file a Form I-130 (and any applicable accompanying application). Your eligibility to petition for your spouse, and your spouse’s admissibility as an immigrant at the immigration visa application or adjustment of status stage, will be determined according to applicable immigration law and will not be automatically denied as a result of the same-sex nature of your marriage. [italics added]

As previously pointed out on this blog, the ability of American Citizens to file for immigration benefits for a same-sex foreign spouse is a fairly clear cut result of the recent Supreme Court decision finding Section 3 of DOMA unConstituional. It should be noted that the USCIS seems to also imply that a K3 visa would also now be a possibility for same sex couples as it could be construed to be an “applicable accompanying application”. However, an issue that was not so clearly dealt with by the Supreme Court’s decision pertains to the K-1 visa (US fiance visa). As Fiance visas are, by  definition, not based upon a marriage, but an intended marriage; further clarification from USCIS on these types of visas post-DOMA is considered by some to be quite helpful. To quote further from the aforementioned USCIS FAQ section:

Q2. I am a U.S. citizen who is engaged to be married to a foreign national of the same sex.  Can I file a fiancé or fiancée petition for him or her?
A2. Yes.  You may file a Form I-129F.  As long as all other immigration requirements are met, a same-sex engagement may allow your fiancé to enter the United States for marriage. [italics added]

This clarification from USCIS regarding the fiance visa in the context of same sex marriage, while helpful, is slightly qualified by the next section of the same FAQ page:

Q3: My spouse and I were married in a U.S. state that recognizes same-sex marriage, but we live in a state that does not. Can I file an immigrant visa petition for my spouse?
A3: Yes, you can file the petition. In evaluating the petition, as a general matter, USCIS looks to the law of the place where the marriage took place when determining whether it is valid for immigration law purposes. That general rule is subject to some limited exceptions under which federal immigration agencies historically have considered the law of the state of residence in addition to the law of the state of celebration of the marriage. Whether those exceptions apply may depend on individual, fact-specific circumstances. If necessary, we may provide further guidance on this question going forward. [italics added]

Clearly, the US fiance visa is now a viable option for same sex couples with a bona fide intention to marry in those jurisdictions of the United States which recognize same sex marriage. Since the jurisdiction of the celebration of the intended marriage is USCIS’s primary concern it would appear that a K1 visa itself will be a possibility for same sex couples in the future. However, it would appear that some ancillary immigration benefits may or may not be available at this time for some same sex bi-national couples depending upon the unique residency circumstances of those couples.

Of further interest to some same sex couples will likely be the fact that there are benefits for the foreign same sex spouse of an American Citizen with respect to naturalization:

Q8. Can same-sex marriages, like opposite-sex marriages, reduce the residence period required for naturalization?
A8. Yes.  As a general matter, naturalization requires five years of residence in the United States following admission as a lawful permanent resident.  But, according to the immigration laws, naturalization is available after a required residence period of three years, if during that three year period you have been living in “marital union” with a U.S. citizen “spouse” and your spouse has been a United States citizen.  For this purpose, same-sex marriages will be treated exactly the same as opposite-sex marriages. [italics added]

Therefore, the same sex spouse of an American Citizen will be treated the same way as the opposite sex spouse of an American for purposes of obtaining US Citizenship based upon the couple’s marriage and lawful permanent residence obtained thereby. Finally, of further note in this recently issued USCIS FAQ page relates to the I-601 waiver process:

Q9. I know that the immigration laws allow discretionary waivers of certain inadmissibility grounds under certain circumstances.  For some of those waivers, the person has to be the “spouse” or other family member of a U.S. citizen or of a lawful permanent resident.  In cases where the required family relationship depends on whether the individual or the individual’s parents meet the definition of “spouse,” will same-sex marriages count for that purpose?
A9.Yes.   Whenever the immigration laws condition eligibility for a waiver on the existence of a “marriage” or status as a “spouse,” same-sex marriages will be treated exactly the same as opposite-sex marriages. [italics added]

Waivers of inadmissibility can be difficult to obtain under certain circumstances as they are, by definition, a discretionary waiver. However, one major hurdle for many same-sex bi-national couples in the US immigration sphere has been cast aside by the comendable decision of the United States Supreme Court. USCIS deserves comendation as well for their efforts to quickly and decisively implement policies which bring immigration regulations in line with changes in the law.

Readers are encouraged to read the USCIS website and the FAQ section quoted above to find out further details regarding immigration regulations pertaining to same sex couples.

For related information please see: US Visa Thailand.

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2nd July 2013

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a statement regarding the implementation of policies regarding adjudication of immigration petitions for same-sex bi-national married couples. To quote directly from the official website of DHS:

“After last week’s decision by the Supreme Court holding that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, President Obama directed federal departments to ensure the decision and its implication for federal benefits for same-sex legally married couples are implemented swiftly and smoothly.  To that end, effective immediately, I have directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse.”

This statement is a significant moment in the long fight for equal immigration rights for same-sex couples. In order to provide further information regarding these developments the DHS has posted some frequently asked questions on the same page as the aforementioned quotation. These FAQ’s are quoted below:

Q1:  I am a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in a same-sex marriage to a foreign national.  Can I now sponsor my spouse for a family-based immigrant visa?

A1: Yes, you can file the petition. You may file a Form I-130 (and any applicable accompanying application). Your eligibility to petition for your spouse, and your spouse’s admissibility as an immigrant at the immigration visa application or adjustment of status stage, will be determined according to applicable immigration law and will not be automatically denied as a result of the same-sex nature of your marriage.

Clearly, the United States Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident same sex spouse of a foreign national can now submit an I-130 petition for Lawful Permanent Residence (also known as “Green Card” status) for their husband or wife. In fact, it would appear that a same-sex couple in Florida was recently granted immigration benefits for the same-sex spouse. This would especially be true in a case where the couple not only was married in State recognizing same-sex marriage, but also resides in that same State or another of the 13 States which recognize such unions. An issue which is, as of yet, not so clearly delineated hinges upon a situation in which a same-sex married couple has married in a State which recognizes same-sex marriage (and performs them), but resides in a State which does not recognize such unions. To shed further light upon this issue it is necessary to quote again from the same DHS webpage, quoted above, regarding this issue:

Q2:  My spouse and I were married in a U.S. state that recognizes same-sex marriage, but we live in a state that does not.  Can I file an immigrant visa petition for my spouse?

A2: Yes, you can file the petition.  In evaluating the petition, as a general matter, USCIS looks to the law of the place where the marriage took place when determining whether it is valid for immigration law purposes. That general rule is subject to some limited exceptions under which federal immigration agencies historically have considered the law of the state of residence in addition to the law of the state of celebration of the marriage. Whether those exceptions apply may depend on individual, fact-specific circumstances. If necessary, we may provide further guidance on this question going forward.

For those wishing to visit the official website of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to learn more please click HERE.

For those unfamiliar with the recent Supreme Court decision striking down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) it should be pointed out that the Supreme Court’s decision did not impact section 2 of DOMA which reads as follows:

No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.

Therefore, notwithstanding the fact that there are some who argue that section 2 of DOMA violates the provisions of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution, no Court ruling nor Act of Congress has repealed section 2 of DOMA and, in the words of the DHS website itself, in those “fact-specific” situations in which Section 2 of DOMA may be relevant the provisions of Section 2 could prove detrimental to a same-sex bi-national couple. That being said, according to the DHS website, a petition could still be filed and it would be adjudicated accordingly.

One final point to ponder on this issue is the K-1 visa. Under current United States Immigration law it is possible for an American Citizen to apply for a Fiance Visa, also known as the K-1 visa, for a foreign fiance residing abroad, so long as the couple intends to marry in the United States within 90 days of the foreign fiance’s arrival (other regulations apply to K-1 visa holders, but for the purposes of this analysis they are not necessarily relevant). If a same-sex couple, who are not yet legally married, wishes to obtain a K-1 visa based upon their intention to wed in the United States, then it could be inferred from the DHS Secretary’s statement that they might be adjudicated in the same manner as the same petition for a different-sex couple. However, this should not be viewed as a foregone conclusion because the statements quoted above only pertain specifically to couples who are already married. Neither the Court, nor the DHS, have specifically dealt with the question of those same-sex couples who wish to seek a K1 visa based upon an intention to marry in the USA. It could be inferred from the Court’s opinion in United States v. Windsor that those same-sex couples with the intention to marry in a jurisdiction where same-sex unions are recognized should be granted the same treatment as those different-sex couples in similar circumstances; but the issue has yet to be clearly adjudicated and therefore no completely clear answer arises.

Meanwhile, one significant question remains: based upon the above information how will USCIS adjudicate K-1 visa applications for same-sex couples who wish to travel to the United States to marry in a State which recognizes same-sex marriage, but reside in a State which does not? Hopefully the answer to this question will come soon. Until then it would appear that although DHS clearly intends to adjudicate same-sex married couples’ petitions for immigration benefits in the same way as different-sex couples; it remains to be seen how same sex fiances will be treated in the eyes of U.S. Immigration law.

For information on immigrant visas please see: CR-1 Visa or  IR-1 Visa.

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29th June 2013

After the landmark decision handed down by the United States Supreme Court in which the Court held that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution there has been increasing speculation regarding how this will impact those seeking United States Immigration benefits such as US visas and Lawful Permanent Residence (Green Card status). It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, recently commented on this issue, to quote her comments directly from the DHS official website:

“I applaud today’s Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor holding that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. This discriminatory law denied thousands of legally married same-sex couples many important federal benefits, including immigration benefits.  I am pleased the Court agreed with the Administration’s position that DOMA’s restrictions violate the Constitution. Working with our federal partners, including the Department of Justice, we will implement today’s decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of our immigration laws.”

Clearly it appears that DHS is in the process of implementing new policies which would comport with the Court’s decision. This is likely to have a tremendous impact upon same-sex bi-national couples. Before the Court handed down their decision it was not possible for most gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, or transgender (LGBT) couples to obtain immigration benefits based upon their marital relationship. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that same sex marriages will receive the same recognition as different-sex mariages in the eyes of federal law the door is now open for LGBT couples to apply for benefits such as a “Green Card” or an immigrant visa (IR-1, CR-1). It may also be possible for same sex bi-national couples who are not yet married to apply for a K-1 fiance visa based upon the couple’s intention to travel to the United States to marry in one of those States (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington) that recognize same-sex marriage. That being stated, it is likely that it may take some time to implement proper policies to reflect the new legal reality, but the time is right for same sex bi-national couples to begin researching their options with regard to United States immigration as it appears likely that one day soon a same sex spouse of an American Citizen will receive an immigrant visa based upon the couple’s marital status.

For related information please see: US Visa Thailand or K1 Visa Thailand.

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26th June 2013

In a landmark case, UNITED STATES v. WINDSOR, EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF SPYER, ET AL., the United States Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision has ruled that Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. For those unfamiliar with this issue, section 3 of DOMA reads as follows:

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 upshot of this legislation is that up until the Supreme Court handed down this ruling same sex couples have not been able to receive the same federal benefits as different-sex couples. In the case at hand, a widow of a same sex spouse who was legally married and residing in the State of New York (one of 12 States which recognize same sex marriage) was barred from receiving an estate tax refund because the federal government, citing section 3 of DOMA, did not recognize the couple’s marriage. To quote directly from the majority opinion of the Supreme Court:

DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment…By history and tradition the definition and regulation of marriage has been treated as being within the authority and realm of the separate States. Congress has enacted discrete statutes to regulate the meaning of marriage in order to further federal policy, but DOMA, with a directive applicable to over 1,000 federal statues and the whole realm of federal regulations, has a far greater reach. Its operation is also directed to a class of persons that the laws of New York, and of 11 other States, have sought to protect…By seeking to injure the very class New York seeks to protect, DOMA violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government. The Constitution’s guarantee of equality “must at the very least mean that a bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot” justify disparate treatment of that group. Department of Agriculture v. Moreno, 413 U.S. 528, 534–535. DOMA cannot survive under these principles. Its unusual deviation from the tradition of recognizing and accepting state definitions of marriage operates to deprive same-sex couples of the benefits and responsibilities that come with federal recognition of their marriages.

In order to shed further light upon this decision it is necessary to quote the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

As the majority of the Court held that “DOMA violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable to the Federal Government” pursuant to the Fifth Amendment it appears that from this point on those same sex couples legally married in a State which recognizes same sex marriage (or possibly in international jurisdictions which legalize same sex marriage as the parties in the Windsor case were actually married in Canada) will receive federal recognition of those marriages and be able to enjoy federal benefits arising from their marital status. The question of interstate recognition of same sex marriage remains a bit murky as there has yet to be a decisive ruling regarding this issue, but the issue of federal recognition of a same sex marriage would appear to be fully resolved.

How Might This Decision Impact The United States Immigration Process?

In the past, same sex bi-national couples were unable to receive immigration benefits such as a Green Card or a K-1 visa (fiance visa) because The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) precluded federal recognition of same sex marriage. This preclusion even applied to those same sex bi-national couples who were married in one of the 12 States which recognize same sex marriage (some could argue that there are now 13 States which recognize same sex marriage since the Supreme Court in another decision handed down at roughly the same time as the Windsor decision effectively leaves the door open for California to legalize same sex marriages). As a result of the federal government failing to recognize same sex marriage agencies such as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) could not grant immigration benefits such as lawful permanent residence (Green Card status) to the same sex spouse of an American Citizen or lawful permanent resident solely based upon the couple’s marrriage. Now, that would appear to no longer be the case, although the Court did not explicitly rule upon the issue of immigration benefits for same sex couples the fact that the Court struck down section 3 of DOMA means that a same sex marriage must be accorded the same federal recognition as a different-sex marriage. Therefore, it is logical to surmise that the Court’s decision should allow same sex couples to undergo adjudication for immigration benefits such as visas and Green Cards in a manner similar to different-sex couples. There are likely to be complications as federal regulators implement policies which comport with the Court’s decision, but one thing is clear: the Windsor decision is a major victory for same sex bi-national couples.

For related information please see: Equal Protection or same sex marriage.

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25th June 2013

It has come to this blogger’s attention that the United States Supreme Court is poised to hand down decisions in two cases in which the question of Federal recognition of same sex marriage is at issue. The first case involves one Edith Windsor, a woman from New York who was compelled to pay 363,000 United States Dollars after her same sex spouse, one Thea Spyer, died. Notwithstanding the fact that Spyer and Windsor were legally married, the fact that said marriage was apparently recognized under the laws of the State of New York, and the fact that a different-sex couple in the same situation would likely have been accorded a tax deduction regarding such estate taxes the United States government fails to recognize the couple’s marriage pursuant to the provisions of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and therefore Mrs. Windsor was not granted similar tax benefits as compared to a different-sex widow. Meanwhile, the United States Supreme Court is also expected to hand down a ruling regarding the Constitutionality of a ballot initiative called Proposition 8 in the State of California which made same sex marriage illegal. This ballot measure followed closely upon the heels of a Court decision in that State which called for the legalization of gay marriage.

Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act reads as follows:

“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 upshot of this provision is that the United States Federal government refuses to recognize same sex marriages even where the marriage was legalized, solemnized, and/or celebrated in a State which explicitly recognizes such unions. Many scholars and experts on the Supreme Court theorize that the Court may issue a narrow opinion in the two cases cited above, but that the Court may also strike down section 3 of DOMA thereby requiring, or so it could be inferred, that the United States Federal goverment recognize such marriages and accord them the same benefits as different sex couples. This would be something of a narrow decision because many feel that section two of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) may not be struck down in these decisions. Section 2 of DOMA reads as follows:

“No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.”

Should the Supreme Court hand down a relatively narrow opinion in these cases and should they strike down only Section 3 of DOMA (which should not necessarily be viewed as a foregone conclusion), then it seems logical to assume that the practical outcome would be that same sex couples could be only accorded benefits arising from their marriage in the State in which the marriage was legalized, and possibly those other States which also recognize such unions; and at the Federal level. States which do not recognize same sex marriage may not be compelled to do so if section two is not struck down.

In the context of United States Immigration: as American immigration benefits, such as US visas, are Federal benefits it seems logical to surmise that if section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is repealed, then same sex bi-national couples may become eligible for immigration benefits similar to those of their different-sex counterparts. Therefore, an American citizen who has a same-sex fiance might be able to obtain a K-1 visa if the couple has the intention of getting married in one of those States which allow same-sex marriage. Furthermore, the same-sex spouse of an American Citizen or lawful permanent resident may become eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence as a result of the decision to overturn section 3 of DOMA. This remains speculation at this time as the Supreme Court has yet to hand down their decision and the various agencies tasked with adjudicating immigration matters will likely require an interval of time in order to update relevant regulations so as to comply with a possible Supreme Court decision; but there appears to be at least some hope on the horizon that same sex marriage and the immigration benefits which could be granted as a result of Federal recognition of such unions may become a legal reality.

For related information please see: DOMA or Full Faith and Credit Clause.

 

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12th January 2012

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand made no comment regarding the possibility of a Cabinet reshuffle although she did note that attendance at upcoming children’s day festivities is apparently encouraged by the Thai government. To quote directly from the official website of the Thai-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) News Network at Tannetwork.tv:

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra avoided answering questions about a possible Cabinet reshuffle today and only smiled at reporters...The PM added that she would like to invite children to attend the Children’s Day celebration on Saturday at Government House as she has prepared some surprises for the kids…”

Concurrently it also came to this blogger’s attention that the government of Canada seems to have made some comments regarding same sex marriages performed in that nation. To quote directly from the website Advocate.com:

“Thousands of non-resident same-sex couples married in Canada may not be legally wed if the marriage is not recognized in their home country or state, according to the Canadian government…”

The issues surrounding the status of same sex couples has been an issue of debate in the United States of America especially as the Presidential elections continue to draw closer. However, politics does not appear to be the core concern of those who are the most effected by these issues. For example, those families wishing to maintain a same sex bi-national relationship with a non-American in the United States could be deeply impacted by both American and Canadian policy regarding same sex marriage. This issue could further be hypothetically defined where the same sex marriage (or civil union depending upon the jurisdiction) takes place outside of the United States as such a fact pattern could place the merits of the marriage under the purview of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). How this issue will ultimately be resolved in North America remains to be seen, there is one thing that seems to be a certainty: this issue is not one that will simply disappear since there are many in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) Community who wish to see full equality in matters reflecting their marital status. American Courts have dealt with this issue in recent months although a definitive decision does not seem to have been reached hopefully this issue will be resolved in short order.

For related information please see: Full Faith and Credit Clause.

For general legal information pertaining to South East Asia please: Legal.

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4th October 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the President of the United States noted his disapproval of negative reactions to comments made by a gay American serviceman. In order to elucidate further it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the Washington Times, WashingtonTimes.com:

President Obama has taken a swipe at the entire field of Republican presidential candidates, saying they are guilty of “smallness” for failing to stand up for a gay U.S. service member who was booed by a few audience members at a GOP debate. “We don’t believe in the kind of smallness that says it’s OK for a stage full of political leaders — one of whom could end up being the President of the United States — being silent when an American soldier is booed,” Mr. Obama told a cheering crowd of gay and lesbian advocates Saturday night at the Human Rights Campaign’s annual dinner in Washington. “We don’t believe in standing silent when that happens. You want to be Commander-in-Chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it’s not politically convenient…”

This blogger strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to learn further details about this apparent incident.

It was heartening for this blogger to see this show of solidarity from President Obama as “booing” of any American military personnel willing to lay down their lives in service to their country is uncalled for notwithstanding personal disagreements regarding lifestyle choices. No member of the LGBT community willingly serving in the American Armed Forces should be subjected to such “second class” treatment, especially by those whom they are tasked with protecting.

Issues surrounding LGBT Equality have been a topic of discussion in recent months as discussions persist with respect to the repeal of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” leading to analysis of States’ Rights issues and matters pertinent to the Erie Doctrine. Of more immediate concern for those proponents of DOMA repeal is the possibility of a political solution in the form of an Act repealing DOMA. In order to shed further light upon endeavors aimed at the aforementioned goal it is necessary to quote directly from Advocate.com:

When Jo Deutsch and Kathryn Lehman are en route to Capitol Hill for meetings with Republicans, they find it best to avoid certain conversations. The debt ceiling is off the table. So are their respective political resumes — one has worked for Barbara Boxer, the other Newt Gingrich. In fact, the two lobbyists could not be more divergent on most issues — except repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. DOMA, which House Republican leadership is defending in several legal challenges, is a deeply personal issue for Lehman, because 15 years ago, she helped to write it…Deutsch and her partner, Teresa Williams, have been together for 28 years and have three children. However improbable legislative repeal of DOMA is in the near future, Deutsch’s professional raison d’etre, as Freedom to Marry national campaign director Marc Solomon sees it, “is to make our strongest case in D.C. with every influential player. Members of Congress, political operatives, the press corps — you name it.” And by hiring Lehman, the organization is taking a page out of the playbook from Proposition 8 opponents, who hired polar opposites Ted Olson and David Boies to make a court win happen.

The administration of this web log asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to gain further insight.

Perhaps one day a bi-partisan lobbying approach will lead to tangible benefits for LGBT couples and same sex bi-national couples who are in many cases unable to obtain immigration benefits such as the CR-1 visa, IR-1 visa, and/or the K-1 visa since there has been a legal presumption that DOMA precludes recognition of same sex marriages, even those performed in a sovereign American State.

For further relevant information please see: Full Faith and Credit Clause.

For further information regarding legal issues pertaining to US Immigration from Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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26th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the National People’s Congress in China has apparently ratified a protocol regarding that nation’s Treaty of Amity with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of Xinhua, XinhuaNet.com:

BEIJING, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) — The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), or China’s top legislature, on Friday ratified the Third Protocol Amending the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia. According to Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai, ratifying the protocol will help exhibit China’s political support for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and boost ties between China and the European Union. Cui was entrusted earlier by the State Council to brief the NPC Standing Committee on the basic information of the protocol. The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia was signed in February 1976. It was one of the basic political documents of the ASEAN…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

It should be noted that the United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand maintain the US-Thai Treaty of Amity which could be described as similar to the aforementioned Sino-ASEAN agreement mentioned above. There has been recent speculation regarding the future of both the Chinese and ASEAN jurisdictions’ economies with many noting the possibility of a very bright economic outlook for both locations as well as Greater Asia as a whole. Meanwhile, there has been speculation that ASEAN could see a unified ASEAN visa scheme, but such developments have yet to come to fruition.

In news related to the struggle for LGBT equality it recently came to this blogger’s attention that some of the Citizens of the sovereign State of Maryland have recently petitioned one of their Senators regarding the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the website of On Top Magazine, OnTopMag.com:

More than 3,000 people have signed on to a petition urging Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski to co-sponsor a bill that would seek to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which forbids federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples. Freedom to Marry will present Mikulski with the petition on Friday at 3PM, the group said in an email to On Top Magazine. “Recent census data show nearly 17,000 same sex couple living across the state of Maryland,” Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson said in a statement. “These loving, committed couples and their families are harmed every day by the denial of marriage, and by federal discrimination against the marriages they are able to celebrate across the border in the District of Columbia and six other states.” “We hope that Senator Mikulski will heed the call of her constituents and join us in ending marriage discrimination at the federal level and in Maryland,” he added…

The administration of this web log asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to learn more from this interesting article.

Frequent readers of this blog may recall that the provisions of DOMA currently preclude visa benefits such as the CR-1 visa, the IR-1 visa, and the K-1 visa to those in a same sex marriage even if said marriage has been legalized and/or solemnized by one of the sovereign American States which recognize such unions. Federal Legislators such as Representative Jerrold Nadler have sponsored legislation such as the Respect for Marriage Act and the Uniting American Families Act in an effort to end this discrimination, but as of yet it remains to be seen if said legislation will see passage.

For those interested in information pertaining to Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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24th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that a Professor in the sovereign State of Utah has apparently filed a declaration regarding statements pertaining to the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the website of Talking Points Memo, TalkingPointsMemo.com:

A University of Utah professor who specializes in the study of affectional bonds and same-sex sexuality is accusing House Speaker John Boehner’s legal team of distorting her research. Professor Lisa A. Diamond, whose work was cited by the legal team arguing on behalf of the U.S. House of Representatives that the Defense of Marriage Act is constitutional, filed a declaration in federal court stating that the legal team “misconstrues and distorts my research findings, which do not support the propositions for which BLAG cites them.” The legal team chosen by Boehner, headed by former Solicitor General Paul Clement, quoted Diamond as writing that there “is currently no scientific or popular consensus on the exact constellation of experiences that definitively ‘qualify’ an individual as lesbian, gay, or bisexual” as support for their claim that sexual orientation isn’t immutable. “That is incorrect,” writes Diamond. “My quoted statement concerns the scientific and popular debates over the defining characteristics of LGBT individuals and it says nothing whatsoever about the immutability of sexual orientation itself…”

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks above to read this article in detail.

The provisions of DOMA currently result in a situation where same sex bi-national couples are unable to enjoy the same visa benefits as their different sex counterparts most particularly in the form of the K-1 visa, the CR-1 visa, and/or the IR-1 visa. Currently, proposed legislation such as Representative Jerrold Nadler‘s Respect for Marriage Act and Uniting American Families Act would ameliorate this situation, but passage of said legislation remains to be seen.

In news pertaining to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Secretariat of ASEAN is apparently releasing information regarding human trafficking. To provide further insight this blogger is compelled to quote directly from the official website of the Malaysian National News Agency website, Bernama.com:

JAKARTA, Aug 24 (Bernama) — The Secretariat of Asean on Wednesday made public the Progress Report on Criminal Justice Responses to Trafficking in Persons in the Asean Region, says Vietnam News Agency (VNA). The report highlighted achievements made by Asean during the past decade in the fight against human trafficking and its forthcoming challenges in the near future. It also underlined the need to perfect the legal system on transnational crimes, promoting regional cooperation, raising efficiency of verifying, prosecuting and convicting human trafficking criminals as well as protecting and helping victims. Addressing the ongoing 11 th Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC) here, Asean Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan said that the report will provide a cooperation model for countries as well as other regions…

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Human trafficking is a problem that many nations tackle with and it is genuinely reassuring to see the jurisdictions which comprise ASEAN (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam) taking the time to analyze this issue as it is certainly a problem deserving of attention.

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22nd August 2011

Loss of consortium is a term used in the law of torts that refers to the deprivation of the benefits of a family relationship due to injuries caused by a tortfeasor. Loss of consortium arising from personal injuries was recognized under the English common law. For example in Baker v Bolton, (1808) 1 Camp 493, a man was permitted to recover for his loss of consortium while his wife languished after a carriage accident. However, once she died from her injuries, his right to recover for lost consortium ended. After the enactment of the Lord Campbell’s Act (9 and 10 Vic. c. 93) the English common law continued to prohibit recovery for loss of consortium resulting from the death of a victim. The availability of loss of consortium differs drastically among common law jurisdictions and does not exist at all in several of them. Damages for loss of consortium are considered separately from, and are not to be confused with compensatory damages

Quoted Directly From Wikipedia, Wikipedia.org

Up until this point in time, the issue of federal recognition of same sex marriage was of primary interest to this blogger due to the immigration implications; but after further contemplation on a currently pending situation involving a same sex married couple in the sovereign State of California this blogger felt it noteworthy to discuss some immigration matters and how they may relate to the concepts noted above. However, in order to provide further context this blogger is compelled to quote directly from the official website of the Huffington Post, HuiffingtonPost.com:

Due to a surprise announcement by the Obama administration to consider same-sex marriage in deportation decisions, as reported by The Huffington Post, Australian-born Anthony Makk, who is currently facing deportation, may be able to stay in the U.S. with his husband Bradford Wells. Earlier this month, The Huffington Post reported the story of Anthony Makk and Bradford Wells, a same-sex married couple that faces deportation for Makk when his visa expires on August 25. Makk and Wells have lived together for 19 years and were legally married in Massachusetts in 2004. Makk is also the primary care taker for Wells, who suffers from AIDS…

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At the time of this writing it does appear that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) may not remove the same sex spouse of an American Citizen suffering from a debilitating illness. However, this should not be viewed as a foregone conclusion. Moreover, it should also be noted that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts‘ reserved right to marry those in her jurisdiction predates the US Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, and the Declaration of Independence. Therefore, it could be reasonably argued that where a State with such a constitution has manifested her political will in favor of legalizing and/or solemnizing same sex marriage the federal government should accord said unions Full Faith and Credit pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Clause. It should be noted that proposed legislation such as Representative Jerrold Nadler‘s Respect for Marriage Act would seem to provide Full Faith and Credit to States which license same sex marriage while allowing other jurisdictions to retain their own interpretation of marriage through a “certainty” scheme. That stated, such a scheme does not deal with the dilemma in the instant case. The Uniting American Families Act appears to have been drafted to specifically address the immigration implications of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) since DOMA specifically precludes federal recognition of same sex marriage thereby denying visa benefits such as the K-1 visa, CR-1 visa, or the IR-1 visa for same sex couples.

This blogger must wonder whether the US Courts, in an effort to prevent loss of consortium in the case noted above, could use an equitable remedy such as an injunction to impose something akin to a temporary restraining order upon the USCIS thereby placing a hold upon the removal with an eye toward sorting out the Full Faith and Credit issues: would this not be especially poignant in a forum such as the Massachusetts Federal Courts, assuming jurisdiction, due to the Erie Doctrine since the underlying marriage took place therein? The ultimate fate of the same sex couple noted above remains to be seen, but there is hope as recent developments would seem to suggest that there could ultimately be a positive outcome.

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