Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘DOMA repeal’

19th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may be poised to begin placing holds on some deportations. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the website of The Washington Times, WashingtonTimes.com:

The Homeland Security Department said Thursday it will halt deportation proceedings on a case-by-case basis against illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria such as attending school, having family in the military or are primarily responsible for other family members’ care. The move, announced in letters to Congress, won immediate praise from Hispanic activists and Democrats who had chided President Obama for months for the pace of deportations and had argued he had authority to exempt broad swaths of illegal immigrants from deportation…

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

Although this blogger has been reluctant to support blanket amnesty per se, especially for those who have entered the United States illegally; there are often unique and extenuating circumstances which require adjudication in order to equitably administer American immigration law and regulation pursuant to legislative and executive plenary power. It remains to be seen how this policy will be practically implemented.

In news related to the struggle for LGBT Equality, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the federal delegation from the sovereign State of New York may be more supportive of DOMA repeal since a Congressional Representative from that State was recently noted for comments on this issue. In an effort to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the website Towleroad.com:

After waiting for New York State to legalize gay marriage, Democratic Rep. Bill Owens now says he supports the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act that prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage. “I indicated I would not become a co-sponsor until New York took action,” said Owens, who represents the Empire State’s 23rd Congressional district. “Once they did that, I felt I had an obligation to the citizens in the state to make sure they weren’t adversely impeded by federal law.” Owens continued, “I think that people should have the freedom to make those kinds of decisions…”

The administration of this web log asks readers to click on the hyperlinks above to read this article in detail.

For those who are unaware of the evolving nature of this issue it should be noted that the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) preclude federal recognition of same sex marriage. This federal non-recognition is enforced even where one of the sovereign American States has legalized and/or solemnized the underlying same sex marriage. There are some who would argue that this activity violates the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution while others could argue that such discrimination violates the Equal Protection Clause. In any case, the result in an immigration context is that same sex bi-national couples (even those who have entered into a same sex marriage in a US State) cannot receive the same visa benefits (such as the CR-1 visa, IR-1 visa, or K-1 visa)  as their different-sex counterparts. Some federal legislators, such as New York delegation member Representative Jerrold Nadler, have attempted to remedy this problem through introduction of bills such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA: to address the specific issue of discrimination in an immigration context) and the Respect For Marriage Act (RFMA: a proposal which would accord federal “certainty” to State licensed same sex marriages). However, it remains to be seen whether such legislation will ultimately see passage.

In news related to the aforementioned issues it also came to this blogger’s attention that further “mainstream media” attention is being focused upon the case of the same sex bi-national couple who were married in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but face the prospect of separation due to the fact that the American government may remove the foreign spouse since their marriage is not recognized pursuant to the provisions of DOMA. In an effort to provide further detail this blogger is compelled to quote directly from the official website of The Washington Post, WashingtonPost.com:

Mr. Makk’s case illustrates the profound injustices meted out by DOMA, which was passed in 1996. The Obama administration this year denounced the Clinton-era law as unconstitutional because it deprives same-sex couples equal protection of the law. In April, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. put on hold the deportation of a British man who has lived in the United States since 1996 but who never obtained a green card or citizenship. The man, Paul Wilson Dorman, has been in a committed same-sex relationship for 15 years and entered into a civil union with his partner, a U.S. citizen, in 2009. Mr. Holder asked an immigration court to determine whether Mr. Dorman should be considered a “spouse” under New Jersey law and thus entitled to stay in the country. Mr. Makk’s deportation should also be put on hold, as should those involving anyone in legally recognized same-sex relationships whose only infraction involves immigration status…

The administration encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail as this situation is poignant indeed.

Although this blogger can at times get caught up in the rather academic details of the debate on federal recognition of same sex marriage readers should be aware that this issue has a truly human context since couples like the one noted above could have their personal lives substantially disrupted as a result of federal policy with respect to same sex couples. There is some speculation that this matter may ultimately see resolution in the US Courts, but until such time as a final decision is made on the matter same sex couples and the Greater LGBT community in America are left to hope that their federal legislature will pass legislation akin to the RFMA or the UAFA. Perhaps in the meantime officers in the American immigration system can utilize their statutory authority and plenary powers to provide equitable relief to those who find themselves facing the prospect of being separated from their loved ones due to questionably Constitutional law.

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21st July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that multiple media outlets are reporting upon the recent Senate hearings discussing the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). In order to provide sufficient insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of Lez Get Real, LezGetReal.com:

Al Franken looks bored. That is not surprising. Committee hearings are rather boring. The Senate Judiciary Committee has been hearing evidence both for and against repealing the Defense of Marriage Act. While the hearing heard testimony about the financial and symbolic damage that DOMA does to couples, it is unlikely that the Respect for Marriage Act will get anywhere in the House where the Republicans will ignore it. Heading up the push for the RFMA is Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy. When DOMA first came in, Senator Leahy voted for it, but a decade and a half later, he has changed his mind and is pushing to end it. He has also hailed the decision by President Barack Obama to support the repeal of DOMA…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to learn more from this interesting story. This blogger must admit that he was rather pleasantly surprised by the questioning posed by Senator Al Franken which can be viewed by clicking on the relevant links above.

Those unfamiliar with the currently unfolding debate involving DOMA should note that that legislation in its present form precludes those in a same sex marriage (even one solemnized and/or legalized by one of the sovereign American States) from receiving similar benefits compared to those in a different-sex marriage. For example, a same sex bi-national couple is unable to obtain visa benefits such as the K-1 visa, the IR-1 visa, or the CR-1 visa in the same manner as their different-sex counterparts. Meanwhile there are many other federal benefits that are not generally accorded to same sex partners. In order to provide further elucidation on these points it is necessary to quote directly from The New Civil Rights Movement website, TheNewCivilRightsMovement.com:

Immigration for Bi-​National Couples. Nearly 26,000 same-​sex couples in the United States are bi-​national couples who could be forced to separate because they cannot participate in green-​card and accelerated citizenship mechanisms offered to non-​citizen spouses of American citizens…There are 581,300 same-​sex couples in the United States, including 50,000 to 80,000 legally married same-​sex and another 85,000 who are in civil unions or registered domestic partnerships. Approximately 20% of same-​sex couples are raising nearly 250,000 children, and DOMA deprives them of the legal and social protections being married offers. Additionally, almost one-​fourth of same-​sex partners are people of color, over 7% of individuals in same-​sex couples are veterans of the U.S. armed forces, and same-​sex couples live in every congressional district and in almost every county in the United States…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click through the hyperlinks noted above to read this very insightful article in full.

It should be noted that in the United States House of Representatives legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) and the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) have been introduced by Representative Jerrold Nadler in order to provide some sort of remedy to the current predicament faced by LGBT couples. As noted in the first excerpt quoted there is pessimism regarding the reaction of Republican legislators to the aforementioned proposed legislation. That stated, there are significant States’ Rights implications of these issues especially in light of the language regarding Full Faith and Credit in the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution. Therefore, speculation regarding willful ignorance of issues pertaining to DOMA and the RFMA by the United States House of Representative may ultimately prove unfounded although vigilance may still be necessary in the continuing struggle for LGBT Equality.

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17th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that members of the American Armed Services were recently noted for their apparent presence at a recent march in support of equal rights for the LGBT community. To quote directly from the official website of the Reuters News Service, Reuters.com:

A group of U.S. service members marched in a San Diego gay pride parade on Saturday, in a demonstration organizers touted as an unprecedented step for gay and lesbian military personnel under the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy…The march came a day after a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily reinstated the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gays, but blocked the Pentagon from penalizing or discharging anyone for being openly gay. The decision marked a reversal from an earlier order to immediately end the policy…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to learn more about these developments.

Frequent readers of this web log may take note of the fact that the 9th Circuit’s decision in the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” matter came down almost contemporaneously with the decision by the United States Bankruptcy Courts to begin allowing bankruptcy petitions from same sex couples if a couple in question has entered into a same sex marriage in one of those jurisdictions which permit such marital unions. This news comes after the announcement that the United States Senate is set to hold hearing regarding the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” and a possible substitute for that legislation in the form of the Respect for Marriage Act. In fact, it was recently announced that the chairman of said proceedings has already been named. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the website of News Radio WGMD 92.7, WGMD.com:

Senator Chris Coons will chair the second panel of the Senate Judiciary Committee which will consider legislation that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.  Coons is a co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act and says that DOMA is discriminatory and deserves to be repealed.  Coons says this hearing is important as it will study the impact that DOMA has had on American families.

This blogger asks readers to click upon the links above to read this posting in detail.

It currently remains to be seen how the presence of Senator Chris Coons chairing the upcoming committee meeting will impact the overall debate on DOMA, but readers may recall that Representative Jerrold Nadler recently introduced both the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) and the Respect for Marriage Act in the United States House of Representatives. These pieces of proposed legislation are designed to put an end to, at least, some of the current legal discrimination being borne by the American LGBT community. UAFA merely deals with the discrimination currently being applied to the LGBT community in an American immigration context while the Respect for Marriage Act was designed to provide a kind of legal certainty to those same sex couples who have married in one of those jurisdictions which legalize and/or solemnize such unions.

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

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3rd August 2009

As the movement towards the eventual repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) continues, it appears that proponents of repeal may score a minor victory by enlisting Senator Russ Feingold to introduce repeal legislation.

The Washington Blade reports,

“[Senator] Feingold is an attractive ally to introduce a DOMA repeal bill because he chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Constitution Subcommittee, which hold jurisdiction over DOMA, she said.”

Concurrently, it would appear that Jerry Nadler, Democratic Member of the House of Representatives, is preparing to introduce a bill to repeal DOMA. Under the provisions of the DOMA repeal currently being considered, states would not be forced to recognize same-sex marriages conducted in other states, but the Federal government would be required to recognize these marriages and provide federal benefits.

Allison Herwitt, legislative director of the Human Rights Campaign, was quoted as saying, “You could, if you lived in Oklahoma, travel to Massachusetts, or one of the other [five] states get married and [go] back to Oklahoma,” she said. “The state would not have to recognize your marriage, but federal benefits would flow.”

Jerry Nadler is notable for having introduced federal legislation known as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). This proposed legislation would have granted US Immigration benefits to the same-sex “permanent partners,” of American Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (holders of US Green Card).

This proposed DOMA repeal would likely have the same effect as the provisions under the UAFA because it would theoretically accord the same sex spouse of an American Citizen the same privileges granted to different sex couples unde ramerican Immigration law. For example, if a bi-national same sex couple was validly married in Massachusetts and then the American Citizen filed an I-130 petition on behalf of his or her spouse, then the federal government would be compelled to recognize the marriage for the purposes of granting the Immigration benefit.

Further, one could argue that an American citizen could file a K1 visa application based upon the couple’s intent to travel to a jurisdiction in the United States which recognizes same-sex marriage and execute a valid marriage. It is thought that should this form of the DOMA repeal pass, then a fiance visa application filed for the above outlined purpose would be approved. That being said, as the bill has not been legalized and the contents are subject to change, it any analysis of USA visa implication is simply an exercise in speculation at this time.

(This is information provided for educational purposes. An attorney-client relationship should not be construed to exist between author and reader.)

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