Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘LGBT community’

19th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the naval chiefs of the nations which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are set to meet in Hanoi, Vietnam in upcoming days. To provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of China Daily, ChinaDaily.com.cn:

HANOI – The 5th ASEAN Naval Chiefs’ Meeting (ANCM-5) will be held in Vietnam on July 26-29, with participation of naval commanders from nine ASEAN member countries and the Lao defense attache in Vietnam. According to Vietnam News Agency on Tuesday, it is the first time Vietnam hosts such defense cooperation event, during which delegates will share views and discuss cooperative measures to respond to security challenges in the region, among other issues…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to learn more from this insightful article.

This news comes upon the heels of news that the American President is scheduled to attend an upcoming ASEAN meeting. Meanwhile, ASEAN leaders are apparently in continued discussion regarding a communique pertaining to the South China Sea. Finally, it would appear as though there may be further discussion regarding an ASEAN visa which would operate in a similar manner to the Schengen Visa. How all of these developments will ultimately play out remains to be seen, but they are certainly of interest for those in the region.

In news related to the struggle for LGBT Equality this blogger recently came upon an interesting posting discussing the current legal position of the LGBT community in light of continued enforcement of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). To quote directly from a posting by Peter J Reilly on the official website of Forbes, Forbes.com:

One of my earliest and most popular (pre-Forbes) posts was on the case of Rhiannon G. O’Donnabhain, who wanted to deduct the cost of gender reassignment surgery as a medical expense.  The IRS argued that the procedure was “cosmetic surgery” and not deductible.  Ms. O’Donnabhain prevailed.  Then came Gill V OPM.  As I noted in my inaugural Forbes post, marital status impact over 1,000 “benefits, rights and privileges” in the United States Code.  Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) holds that a couple is not married for any federal purpose unless they are of the opposite gender and that the word spouse means a person of the opposite gender.  In Gill v OPM a district court ruled that Section 3 of DOMA had no rational basis.  There were several plaintiffs in Gill, all legally married in Massachusetts, arguing for a variety of benefits including that of filing a joint return…

Those interested in such issues are strongly encouraged to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to read this interesting posting in detail.

Section 3 of DOMA also has significant ramifications in an American immigration context as even those who have entered into a same sex marriage in a State which legalizes such unions cannot use said marriage as a basis to petition for spouse visa benefits (such as the CR-1 visa and the IR-1 visa). Concurrently, as such unions are not recognized by the United States federal government a petition for a same sex K-1 visa would also not be permissible so long as DOMA remains in place.  Bearing that in mind the reader should note that legislators such as Representative Jerrold Nadler and Representative Mike Honda have introduced legislation such as the Respect for Marriage Act, the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), and the Reuniting Families Act in order to provide some sort of remedy for the current discrimination being borne by same sex bi-national couples and the LGBT community as whole. As of the time of this writing none of the above legislation has seen passage although with an upcoming Senate Judiciary Committee hearing set to discuss DOMA there is hope that this discrimination will not continue indefinitely.

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9th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Bankruptcy Courts may soon be hearing cases involving bankruptcy petitions for couples who have entered into a same sex marriage. In order to provide further insight it is prudent to quote directly from the official website of the Reuters News Service, Reuters.com:

The U.S. Justice Department has dropped its opposition to joint bankruptcy petitions filed by same-sex married couples in a victory for supporters of gay marriage. The policy change is the latest setback for the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which has come under increasing pressure since the Obama administration said in February that it would no longer defend its constitutionality. Until now, the Justice Department had routinely intervened to stop joint bankruptcy cases filed by same-sex couples. The Department’s position had been that the bankruptcy code only allows joint filings by opposite-sex spouses as defined under the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage. In an unexpected turnabout, the department on Wednesday filed a request to withdraw its appeal in one such case. Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler confirmed the policy change in an e-mail to Reuters on Thursday. “The Department of Justice has informed bankruptcy courts that it will no longer seek dismissal of bankruptcy petitions filed jointly by same-sex debtors who are married under state law,” she wrote…

The administration of this web log encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to read this interesting article by Terry Baynes which was edited by Cynthia Johnston.

Although the main thrust of this blog is not centered upon the discussion of federal bankruptcy issues, this change in policy to recognize those same sex couples married under State law is certainly a victory for advocates of LGBT Equality. Concurrently, it is also a victory for proponents of States’ Rights, a doctrine which holds many of the prerogatives and laws of the States in high regard relative to those of the federal government of the United States of America. Meanwhile, advocates for full LGBT Equality must continue to wait for full legal recognition of equal rights until such time as the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) is either repealed, replaced with legislation similar to the Respect for Marriage Act, or amended in such a way that true equality under the law is granted for the individuals involved while the prerogatives of the sovereign American States are respected. Something perhaps akin to the doctrine of “certainty” enshrined in the provisions of the Respect for Marriage Act noted above.

In an American immigration context, it should be noted that members of the LGBT community cannot be granted the same visa benefits in the same manner as other communities since same sex bi-national couples are not able to obtain travel documents such as the CR-1 visa, the IR-1 visa, or the K-1 visa in the same way as their different-sex counterparts. Therefore until such time as DOMA is repealed this situation is unlikely to change. In the event that legislation such as the Respect for Marriage Act, the Reuniting Families Act, or the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) is enacted by the Congress and signed into law by the President then a same sex bi-national couple may be able to petition for US immigration benefits for their spouse or fiance. As of the time of this writing, such a scenario is not yet feasible.

In news related to China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) it recently came to this blogger’s attention that tensions appear to be subsiding with respect to the various issues surrounding the South China Sea. This assessment is made based upon apparent announcements from the Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario.  To provide more information it is necessary to quote directly from the website of Business World Online, BWorldOnline.com:

BEIJING –FOREIGN AFFAIRS Secretary Albert F. del Rosario on Friday said he and ranking Chinese officials agreed to settle the territorial dispute in the South China Sea through guidelines agreed upon by China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) almost a decade ago.Mr. Del Rosario, who talked to foreign journalists at the St. Regis Hotel near the Philippine embassy, said “yes” when asked if his two-day visit was a success, adding that both side have renewed their commitment to bring stability in the area amid recent tensions. “The two sides reaffirmed their commitments to respect and abide by the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea signed by China and the ASEAN member countries in 2002,” Mr. del Rosario said, referring to his meeting with Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. “Both ministers agreed to further strengthen the bonds and friendship and cooperation between the two countries and to fully implement the Joint Action Plan,” he added. “Both ministers exchanged views on the maritime disputes and agreed not to let the maritime disputes affect the broader picture of friendship and cooperation between the two countries,” Mr. del Rosario further said…The South China Sea, which hosts the oil-rich Spratly Islands, has been claimed in part or wholly by Brunei Darrusalam, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. In a conference in Manila late this week, foreign policy experts called for a binding agreement among Spratly claimants to resolve conflicting positions…[sic]

This blogger asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this insightful article by Darwin T. Wee.

As can be gathered from the excerpt noted above, there have been many geopolitical facets to the South China Sea dispute, but one notable aspect of this developing situation is that the parties have a seemingly genuine desire to deal with the matter reasonably and and peacefully. Hopefully this attitude will continue and these issues can be resolved to the benefit of all concerned.

At the time of this writing, China continues to show signs of increasing economic and political strength. These developments come amidst news that Malaysia has maintained trade discussions with various African and Islamic nations while simultaneously playing a role within ASEAN. At the same time, circumstances in the so-called BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) have lead many to believe that all of these jurisdiction will show further economic flourish in the future. Vietnam and Taiwan are dealing with rather new issues as they find themselves confronting the rest of the world on somewhat different terms compared to times past. These developments have both positive and negative ramifications for these jurisdictions, but the overall economic and political forecasts for all of these places appears bright.

As the aforementioned dispute appears to be moving toward a resolution it is hoped that further disputes can be handled using some sort of framework which provides efficiency in adjudicating issues while simultaneously operating on terms which all parties concerned can agree upon.

For information related to same sex marriage and the intersection between State and federal law please see: Full Faith and Credit Clause.

For information pertaining to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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4th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that many developments have been taking place with respect to same sex marriage and the legal recognition thereof. It would appear as though many different organs of the United States government have taken a rather positive stance on LGBT Equality. In order to better expound upon these events it may be prudent to quote directly from the official website of the New York Times, NYTimes.com:

Last month, with almost no fanfare, the federal government did a very decent thing: It canceled the deportation of a Venezuelan man after he married an American man in Connecticut and claimed legal residency as a spouse. But the government did not say that it was formally recognizing their marriage, because it cannot. The Defense of Marriage Act, which ranks with the most overtly discriminatory laws in the nation’s history, remains on the books, prohibiting federal recognition of legal same-sex marriages… The Defense of Marriage Act was enacted in 1996 as an election-year wedge issue, signed by President Bill Clinton in one of his worst policy moments. Any Congress with a real respect for personal freedom would repeal it. That, of course, does not describe the current Congress, where many members talk a great deal about freedom but apply it mainly to businesses and gun owners. With legislative repeal not on the horizon, the best hope for ending this legalized bigotry is with the courts. Last year, a federal judge in Massachusetts said the law’s definition of marriage as only between a man and a woman violated the equal-protection provisions of the Constitution. In June, a federal bankruptcy court in California said the law was unconstitutional. Other cases have been filed in New York and Connecticut, and the Justice Department, having agreed that the marriage definition is unconstitutional, has refused to defend it in those court cases. (The House hired its own lawyer to defend the law.)

The administration of this web log asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this insightful story in detail.

This blogger would also note that there is one seemingly barely reported aspect of the debate which centers upon the issue of federal recognition of same sex marriages legalized and/or solemnized in one of the American jurisdictions which permit such unions. This under reported issue is that of States’ Rights. Although it may not seem immediately pertinent, the issues associated with the sovereign American States’ rights to legalize and/or solemnize marriage within their respective jurisdictions may very well be a central issue to be analyzed with respect to adjudication of the Constitutionality of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). There are some who would argue that failure on the part of the United States Congress to provide a framework to grant Full Faith and Credit to same sex marriages might be in violation of the provisions of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution. As of the time of this writing, however, the United States federal government continues to refuse recognition of same sex marriage pursuant to DOMA.

Bearing the above in mind, it should be noted that it would appear as though this issue is still evolving within the American political zeitgeist as it was recently pointed out that the American President has had some discussions regarding this issue. To quote directly from the official website of the Financial Times, FT.com:

A calculating Washington operative might construe Barack Obama’s continued reluctance to support same-sex marriage as a clever strategic ploy to maximise votes as the 2012 presidential election race gets under way… At a Gay Pride reception at the White House on Wednesday, just five days after New York became the seventh jurisdiction in the US to allow same-sex weddings, Mr Obama trumpeted his achievements: winning the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, and ordering the justice department to stop defending the law that bans federal recognition of same-sex marriages. Gays and lesbians deserve to be “treated like every other American”, Mr Obama said. But the president, who backs civil unions for same-sex couples and last December said his views on gay marriage were “evolving”, still declined to back gay marriage. This dichotomy – being the most progressive president to date on gay issues, but not progressive enough for marriage equality – has disappointed many liberal voters…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the appropriate hyperlinks above to read more from this interesting posting.

Although the President’s views on same sex marriage are “evolving” it remains to be seen when such evolution will result in tangible benefits for the LGBT community. One of the significant ramifications of the current application of DOMA is the fact that this legislation’s enforcement drives bi-national same sex couples geographically apart. Notwithstanding the rescinded deportation noted above, DOMA remains in force and so long as that legislation remains in force there will be same sex bi-national couples who remain separated. Some American legislators such as Representative Jerrold Nadler and Representative Mike Honda have introduced legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), the Reuniting Families Act, and the Respect for Marriage Act. This legislation would, to one degree or another, ameliorate some of the discrimination currently being endured by the LGBT community in America. However, as of this posting, such legislation has yet to be enacted. It should be interesting to see if such legislation will see passage in the weeks and months ahead.

For related information please see: US Visa Thailand.

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21st June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the highly informative website of the American Immigration Lawyers Association has noted the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) and the Reuniting Families Act (RFA) in a recent posting. Perhaps it is best to quote directly from the official website of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

Uniting American Families Act of 2011 (H.R. 1537)
Introduced by Rep. Nadler (D-NY) on 4/14/11
Summary: Includes a “permanent partner” within the scope of INA. Defines a “permanent partner” as an individual 18 or older who: (1) is in a committed, intimate relationship with another individual 18 or older in which both individuals intend a lifelong commitment; (2) is financially interdependent with the other individual; (3) is not married to, or in a permanent partnership with, anyone other than the individual; (4) is unable to contract with the other individual a marriage cognizable under this Act; and (5) is not a first, second, or third degree blood relation of the other individual. Defines: (1) “permanent partnership” as the relationship existing between two permanent partners, and (2) “alien permanent partner” as the individual in a permanent partnership who is being sponsored for a visa…

Reuniting Families Act (H.R. 1796)
Introduced by Rep. Honda (D-CA) on 5/6/11
Summary: Amends the INA to establish the fiscal year worldwide level of employment-based immigrants at 140,000 plus: (1) the previous year’s unused visas, and (2) the number of unused visas from FY1992-FY2011. Establishes the fiscal year worldwide level of family-sponsored immigrants at 480,000 plus: (1) the previous year’s unused visas, and (2) the number of unused visas from FY1992-FY2011.

Revises the definition of “immediate relative” to: (1) mean a child, spouse, or parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (and for each family member of a citizen or resident, such individual’s accompanying spouse or child), except that in the case of parents such citizens shall be at least 21 years old; (2) permit a widow or widower of a U.S. citizen or resident to seek permanent resident status if married at least two years at the time of the citizen’s or resident’s death or, if married less than two years, by showing through a preponderance of the evidence that the marriage was entered into in good faith and not solely to obtain an immigration benefit; and (3) include an alien who was the child or parent of a U.S. citizen or resident at the time of the citizen’s or resident’s death if the alien files a petition within two years after such date or prior to reaching 21 years old…

This blogger encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read further into the details of all of the proposed pieces of legislation noted in the aforementioned quotation. Frequent readers of this blog may recall the initial introduction of these bills by Representative Jerrold Nadler and Representative Mike Honda, respectively. It could easily be inferred that many in the LGBT community and same-sex bi-national couples from around the globe are anxiously awaiting positive news on any of these legislative proposals.

Readers are reminded that Representative Nadler is the legislator who also proposed the Respect for Marriage Act which would provide federal recognition of the State licensure of same sex marriage. It should be noted that several sovereign American States currently legalize and/or solemnize such marital unions and jurisdictions such as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the State of California have seen cases in the federal judicial branch which may result in an end to the current discrimination felt by many couples as a result of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA).

This news comes upon the heels of interesting possible political developments in Texas which may result in State legislation pertaining to TSA activities in airports. To quote directly from the official website of 1200 WOAI News Radio out of San Antonio, Texas:

Texas lawmakers will reconsider a bill that would criminalize ‘enhanced pat downs’ by Transportation Security Administration agents at the state’s airports, after Gov. Rick Perry placed the item on the agenda for the current special session of the legislature following intense pressure from conservatives and tea party groups, 1200 WOAI news has learned. “I am grateful that the governor heard the calls of the people demanding that lawmakers stand up for the liberties of Texans,” Wesley Strackbein, a conservative activist and founder of’ TSA Tyranny.com’ told 1200 WOAI news.  Strackbein Saturday traveled to New Orleans to confront Perry at a book signing event and demand that the item be placed on the legislative  agenda…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to learn more.

TSA‘s (Transportation Security Administration) usage of so-called “enhanced patdowns” upon children and physically/mentally challenged individuals, not to mention the public-at-large, has apparently caused intense political pressure at the grassroots level calling for restriction of these activities. It would appear as though tangible results of such pressures could be forthcoming, but until such time as a bill has actually been enacted it is difficult to say if, or when, offensive policies and procedures will actually change.

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

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4th June 2011

I have sworn on the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.

–Thomas Jefferson (3rd President of the United States of America, First Secretary of State [Washington Administration])

Gay rights are human rights.

– Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (Former First Lady of the United States)

The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

– 9th Amendment of the United States Constitution, quoted from Wikipedia

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

– 10 Amendment of the United States Constitution, quoted from Wikipedia

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond located in the sovereign Commonwealth of Virginia has taken political criticism for flying a rainbow flag (traditionally viewed as a flag denoting support for the LGBT community and, for some, their struggle for equal protection under United States law and/or equal recognition of same sex marriage solemnized and/or legalized in one of the sovereign American States, the District of Columbia, or the Federal territories, if applicable). To quote directly from an article by Olympia Meola posted on the official website of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, TimesDispatch.com:

Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, is asking the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank to remove the rainbow flag flying below the American flag outside of the building, calling its presence “a serious deficiency of judgment by your organization, one not limited to social issues.” In a letter to Richmond Fed President Jeffrey M. Lacker, Marshall says the homosexual behavior “celebrated” by the bank “undermines the American economy…”

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this story in detail in order to gain further insight into this developing situation.

This blogger must pause this analysis for a moment of personal observation. It is intriguing that Delegate Marshall would seem to be trying to scapegoat some of the blame for recent economic events upon the LGBT, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (transsexual, or “third sex“), community. This blogger must retort: how could the LGBT community “undermine” America’s economy? Explain this? Especially since a great deal of economic activity that produces revenue in America comes from married couples trying to make a living, build a home, and start a family. Is it in dispute that marriage and family generate economic benefits for America? If it is not, then the only way the LGBT community could be at fault for some hypothetical economic downturn would seem to arise from the fact that they have not started families (and therefore not generated the concomitant economic activity derived therefrom) due to the fact that they cannot gain the same legal recognition of their relationships in the same way that those in different-sex relationships are able to. This is especially true in the context of same sex bi-national couples as some of these relationships are separated by thousands of miles and jurisdictional boundaries due to the fact that federal enforcement of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) does not allow a same sex bi-national couple to petition for the same US visa benefits (such as the CR1 visa or the IR1 Visa, not to mention the K1 visa which is a US fiance visa) in the same manner as a different sex couple. There are currently American federal legislators such as Representative Mike Honda and Representative Jerrold Nadler who have introduced legislation, such as the Reuniting Families Act, the Uniting American Families Act, and the Respect for Marriage Act; which would, to one degree or another, at least end the current discrimination that the bi-national LGBT community faces when trying to reunite with family in the United States of America. Apparently this Federal Reserve Bank was flying this flag pursuant to a request from another organization which appears dedicated to the cause of LGBT equality:

The flag is being flown at the request of PRISM, a Richmond Fed group representing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees and allies.

This PRISM organization should be commended for their efforts on behalf of the LGBT community, but this blogger must say that he would like to see legislation passed which provides tangible benefits to the LGBT community rather than a gesture from a private corporation which, at least ostensibly, has no role in deciding American policy toward legal recognition of LGBT relationships. Others echoed some of these sentiments, but for what are, in this blogger’s personal opinion, the wrong reasons:

Its presence also prompted mention from Victoria Cobb, president of The Family Foundation in an email release on Wednesday. Although the Federal Reserve is a private entity, it is disappointing to see it participate in this celebration,” she said.

This blogger is always a bit skeptical when a group uses the term “family” when describing themselves as it is usually an indicator that such an organization has its own idea about what the definition of “family” actually is. Concurrently, such organizations are sometimes known to attempt to foist their own paradigm or definition of family upon others who may not necessarily share the same view. Therefore, readers are asked to always conduct their own research on all aspects of such issues in order to form their own well informed opinions.

This blogger must confess that this recent display of support for LGBT equality by the Fed seems a bit disingenuous considering the timing and circumstances. It has recently been reported on some mainstream and alternative media outlets that there are currently worries growing about the state of the American economy. Meanwhile it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the government of China is reported to have diminished their position in United States Treasuries. To quote directly from an article written by Terence P. Jeffrey and posted to the website CNSNews.com:

(CNSNews.com) – China has dropped 97 percent of its holdings in U.S. Treasury bills, decreasing its ownership of the short-term U.S. government securities from a peak of $210.4 billion in May 2009 to $5.69 billion in March 2011, the most recent month reported by the U.S. Treasury. Treasury bills are securities that mature in one year or less that are sold by the U.S. Treasury Department to fund the nation’s debt. Mainland Chinese holdings of U.S. Treasury bills are reported in column 9 of the Treasury report linked here

Readers are strongly encouraged to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in full and learn more. This situation is only brought up in the context of this posting to elucidate the fact that the Fed is currently in something of a “pickle”. This news comes upon the heels of recent announcements (noted in a previous posting on this blog) that the USA and China are set to be engaging in cooperative efforts in the context of relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Clearly, current American relations with China and countries in Southeast Asia are multi-facted and complex so those interested in such topics are encouraged to conduct thorough research before forming opinions on issues associated with American, Chinese, and ASEAN economic policies and relations.

It was recently reported on the website Law.com that the Federal Reserve has come under intense scrutiny from legislators such as Representative Ron Paul for current policies supposedly being maintained by the Fed. To quote directly from an insightful article written by Shannon Green and posted on the website Law.com:

The Congressman criticized the Fed for its reluctance to disclose to the public when banks are unhealthy. Paul said the Fed’s practices of protecting banks’ privacy appears to be at odds with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which is pushing companies to reveal more information.

Readers are strongly encouraged to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in full to gain more context.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with positions held by the various members of House of Representatives is not really relevant to the issue of the Fed’s decision to hoist this particular flag at this particular time. Although it is certainly a commendable gesture, this blogger’s response, with all due respect, must be: why so late, and why now? If the Fed is raising the Rainbow flag because they genuinely support LGBT Equality, then great; but if this institution is simply raising this flag because of political expediency or to score some sort of “political points”, then one must ask: why? Hopefully the LGBT community will see their equal rights fully vested soon and this valid grievance will be redressed. In the meantime, this blogger hopes that the American economy will rebound from any relative downturn to find itself more vibrant and dynamic than ever, but some developments take time. For those personally impacted by the current state of affairs: it is hoped that change will come sooner rather than later.

Readers should note that in the context of same sex marriage this blogger feels that fundamentally the issue of LGBT equality is an individual rights issue as the right to enter into a consensual relationship with whomever one wishes is an inalienable natural right reserved to the People notwithstanding the Constitution, but nevertheless enshrined within the provisions of the 9th and 10th Amendments noted above. The implied right of “free association” has also long been held to provide Constitutional protection for Americans wishing to form intimate associations with others. Concurrently, this blogger feels that where sovereign States have heeded the call of their citizenry to provide government licensure of same sex marriages or marital unions, then that licensure acts as an imprimatur of sovereign recognition which, in this blogger’s opinion, cannot be negated by the federal government and must be accorded Full Faith and Credit by sister States within the Union. Those unfamiliar with the Full Faith and Credit Clause should note that Congress can make rules regarding the effect of State law upon other States, but, in this blogger’s opinion, such law cannot be made to render the States’ laws ineffective, which is the current result of the federal government’s application of some, or all, depending upon circumstance; of the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act“. This blogger must point out that although same sex couples ought to be able to get Full Faith and Credit for those marriages solemnized and/or legalized in one of the sovereign States of the United States of America, they may not necessarily see States which do not permit same sex marriage in an intrastate context engaging in the legal procedure of divorcing same sex couples as this blogger believes that one must utilize a “horizontal vs. vertical” analysis of the Full Faith and Credit Clause in the context of same sex marriage since there is both an intrastate and interstate component to such an analysis. Such an analysis could, at times, result in a situation where a State Court permits recognition of the fact that a same sex marriage exists in another State jurisdiction, but the Full Faith and Credit Clause’s provisions may not necessarily be interpreted to mean that States should be compelled to grant same sex divorces if the public policy of the State in question does not permit State sanctioned legalization or solemnization of such unions in the first place.

On a side note, this blogger just thought of an interesting hypothetical: could a federal Court with concurrent federal jurisdiction over State territory grant divorces for same sex couples who were married in another State jurisdiction (which allows same sex marriage) if the underlying State’s public policy runs counter to the notion of granting recognition for such unions? It would currently seem that pursuant to the Erie Doctrine the US Courts under such circumstances may be prohibited from undertaking certain functions pertaining to same sex marriages if the underlying State’s law does not recognize such unions. That stated, as of the time of this writing any such analysis remains mere speculation as a broadly binding legal opinion on these issue has yet to be handed down.

Readers interested in learning more about the struggle for LGBT Equality are encouraged to check out UnitingAmericanFamilies.Net, Lez Get Real, and/or the Immigration Equality Action Fund Blog.

For further related information please see: Rainbow Flag or US Company Registration.

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31st May 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Republican position regarding same sex marriage in the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.) is being analyzed by both media and political observers. To quote directly from a recent article written by Ben Pershing and posted on the website of the Washington Post, WashingtonPost.com:

[D]espite past efforts, Republicans have not mounted an assault this year on the District’s same-sex marriage law: No bill has been introduced to overturn it, nor has any lawmaker publicly sought support from colleagues for such a measure.

Those unfamiliar with the United States Constitution are wise to take note of the fact that the United States Congress is responsible for administering the American capitol city. The scope of such jurisdiction extends to matters which in the context of a sovereign State could be viewed as intrastate issues. However, as the District of Columbia is substantially different in nature from sovereign States the same legal rules and analysis that applies to States may not apply to the District. To quote further from the aforementioned article:

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said he knew of no campaign to repeal the law. “My committee has no intention at this time of overturning gay marriage,” Issa said this month, although he later clarified that he was speaking for himself as chairman and not for individual lawmakers. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), now chairman of the D.C. oversight subcommittee, responded similarly Tuesday. He said that he would support a bill to overturn the same-sex marriage law if one were introduced but that he had no interest in spearheading such an effort. “I was not elected to be D.C. mayor, and I don’t aspire to be,” Gowdy said, echoing a previous comment by him on local issues. The fact that no Republican has introduced a bill this year could be a sign that the majority plans to use a different tactic…

The administration of this weblog strongly encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to view this article in its entirety.

The observations noted above go to the heart of any analysis of the current struggle for the LGBT community to gain at least some modicum of equal protection pursuant to United States law. In a previous posting on this blog it was noted that in order for the LGBT community to hope to see passage of legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), the Respect for Marriage Act, or the Reuniting Families Act broad based bipartisan support may prove crucial. That stated, it would appear that where once there was stiff resistance toward a compassionate or tolerant policy towards the LGBT community, now there are signs of something of a “thaw” on the right especially as States’ Rights issues have been raised regarding the Constitutionality of the current application of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA).

Currently, sovereign American States such as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have heeded the call of their Citizenry and taken measures to legalize, solemnize, and/or recognize same sex marriages or marital unions. Notwithstanding this fact, the United States federal government still will not accord federal benefits (including immigration benefits) even to those legally married in a sovereign American jurisdiction.

It is this blogger’s opinion that the issue of same sex marriage in the United States may ultimately be resolved by activity emanating from US Courts, especially if a case on point is heard by the United States Supreme Court. This blogger forms this opinion after contemplating the issues associated with Full Faith and Credit and the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution. Bearing this in mind, the reader is urged to remember that these issues have yet to see full resolution.

Meanwhile, it would appear that activists in the international LGBT community are taking steps to secure further equality in other parts of the world as The Nation newspaper’s print edition in Thailand reports that LGBT activists are seeking political support for the cause of same-sex marriage in the lead up to Thai elections. To quote directly from the Nation’s official website, NationMultimedia.com:

Rights activists for the so-called “third sex” – gays, lesbians and transsexuals – have urged political parties to allow a same-sex marriage law. Natee Teerarojjanapongs, president of the Sexual Diversity Group and the Gay Political Group of Thailand, and transsexual singer known as Jim Sarah (Sujinrat Prachathai) said yesterday they would visit the Democrat and Pheu Thai parties today to submit a letter asking them to issue such a law for the “third gender” if they lead the next government…Their groups will seek commitments from the parties and say they will reward promises of action by campaigning for votes among their supporters…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to learn more from this insightful and well written article.

Readers should be aware of the fact that the Kingdom of Thailand is one of the most tolerant jurisdictions on the face of the Earth when it comes to matters pertaining to LGBT issues. As a tourist and recreational destination, Thailand ranks among the top tier of destinations frequented by the LGBT individuals and couples as Thailand boasts a vibrant LGBT community. That stated, under Thai law in its current form same sex marriage is not recognized. Therefore, it is not possible for a same sex couple to register a Thai marriage at, say, an Amphur Office (Civil Registrar Office), in the same manner as a different-sex couple. As noted above, Thai advocates may be taking measures in the near term to change this state of affairs. How this issue will play out in the run up to a Thai election remains to be seen, but it may prove interesting.

In analyzing United States immigration in a Thai context the reader should note that if Thailand began allowing registration of same sex marriage and the United States passed legislation such as the aforementioned UAFA it is conceivable in the future that a same sex bi-national Thai-American couple could register their marriage in Thailand and thereby use that marriage as a basis for seeking American immigration benefits such as a K3 visa, CR1 visa, or an IR1 visa. That stated, such a scenario would require a departure from current law and policy.

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

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23rd May 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that one of the American Senators from the sovereign State of New York has been interviewed regarding United States Immigration and the ramifications of current policies upon the LGBT community.  To quote directly from the website of the Immigration Equality Action Fund:

In a wide-ranging new interview with reporter Andrew Harmon at The Advocate, United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) talks about the future of LGBT-inclusive immigration reform, as well as her own experiences as the American half of a binational marriage. Gillibrand – who has been a staunch supporter of LGBT equality – recently joined eleven other Senate colleagues in calling on the Obama Administration to halt the deportation of LGBT spouses…

The administration of this web log strongly recommend that readers click upon the hyperlinks above to learn more about this interesting interview. It is truly fortunate that Senator Gillibrand and her eleven colleagues have taken this position in support of bi-national LGBT spouses.

For those who are unfamiliar with the current plight of the LGBT community in America it should be noted that multiple sovereign States as well as the District of Columbia allow same sex marriage or same sex marital union. That stated, the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) prohibit the United States Federal government from recognizing such unions. Therefore, same sex couples are not permitted to obtain the same federal benefits as their different-sex counterparts. As a result, many same sex bi-national couples are separated from one another because they cannot obtain the same federal immigration benefits as their different sex counterparts. At present, there is currently legislation pending before the federal legislature which would alleviate some or all of these legal problems. Such legislation includes, but may not be limited to: the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), the Reuniting Families Act, and the Respect for Marriage Act. It is notable that the State of New York has more than one member of its delegation in support of LGBT-friendly legislation as Representative Jerrold Nadler has recently supported and introduced legislation to ameliorate the discrimination currently imposed upon same sex couples by relevant federal American law.

Meanwhile, it would appear as though issues associated with same sex marriage visas are not the only things on the minds of Americans concerned about U.S. Immigration policy as it recently came to this blogger’s attention that a well regarded attorney from the United States recently commented upon the Diversity Visa Lottery. To quote directly from Greg Siskind on the website ILW.com:

I’ve always had mixed feelings about the annual green card lottery. On the one hand, shouldn’t our green card numbers be going to high priority family and employment categories that are backlogged as opposed to people who randomly are selected and may have few skills to offer and aren’t reuniting with family here? Political scientist Yascha Mounk makes the case for keeping the lottery, however, in an opinion piece in today’s New York Times.

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks above to learn more.

It has always been this blogger’s opinion that the Diversity Visa Lottery Program is a positive aspect of the current American immigration system. That stated, it would certainly be nice to see the reunification of both different-sex and same-sex families in the future. Hopefully, one day we will see both.

For related information please see: US Visa Thailand or Full Faith and Credit Clause.

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9th April 2011

It would appear as though government shutdown has been averted, at least for the time being as an apparent bi-partisan initiative has resulted in continued funding for the United States government. To quote directly from ABC News on go.com:

Barely more than an hour before a midnight deadline Friday night, officials announced a deal to avert a government shutdown. “We will cut $78.5 billion below the president’s 2011 budget proposal, and we have reached an agreement on the policy riders,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., wrote in a joint statement.

The agreement would cut $37.67 billion from the 2010 budget and keep intact funding to Planned Parenthood, sources from both parties told ABC News.

“We protected the investments we need to win the future,” President Obama said after the deal was struck. “At the same time, we also made sure at the end of the day this was a debate about spending cuts — not social issues like women’s health and the protection of our air and water. These are important issues that deserve discussion, just not during a debate about our budget.”

Readers of this blog are highly encouraged to visit the above links to gain more insight on this story.

On a related note, credit where credit is due regarding the preparations seemingly undertaken by the officers of the Department of State in trying to front load their efforts as much as humanly possible regarding previously-approved visa issuances as the prospect of Government Shutdown became more acute.

On a less related note, those interested in the struggle for equality for the LGBT community in the context of the United States immigration process should take note of the fact that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) attempted to put a hold on deportations involving same sex bi-national couples before having that hold rescinded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). USCIS, your efforts to help keep bi-national families together has not gone unnoticed.

It would seem as though the ultimate resolution on this issue will come either in the form of a legal opinion from the United States Supreme Court, as in a case such as that from the Massachusetts Federal Court and others in the US Courts currently working their way through the appellate process, or through enactment of legislation which would repeal, hopefully at the very least, the Federal recognition provisions currently embodied in the language of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) similar to the legislation colloquially referred to as the Respect for Marriage Act and/or the Uniting American Families Act.

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