Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘LGBT Equality’

17th August 2013

In previous postings on this blog the issues related to same sex marriage in the United States, and the immigration benefits connected thereto have been discussed. However, discussion about how same sex marriage is viewed in the eyes of the law in Thailand has been comparably brief. As of the time of this writing, there would seem to be a growing movement to legalize same sex unions in Thailand following a recent case involving two same sex partners who attempted to register their union in Thailand in much the same manner as different-sex couples. To quote directly from the Asia Times website:

Last year, Nathee Theeraronjanapong (55) and his partner Atthapon Janthawee (38) decided to make their 20-year relationship legal. Citing section 1448 of Thailand’s Civil and Commercial Code, which deems same-sex marriage unlawful, the head of registrations in Thailand’s northern city of Chiang Mai handed the couple a letter of denial…

An English translation of Section 1448 of the Thai Civil and Commercial Code reads as follows:

A marriage may take place only when the man and woman have completed their seventeenth year of age. But the Court may, with appropriate reason, allow them to marry before attaining such age.

In much the same way that Section 3 the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) only Federally recognized marriages between a man and a woman (notwithstanding the fact that some States recognized such unions) the governing laws of the Kingdom of Thailand only recognize marriage as a union between two people of the opposite sex. Notwithstanding the law’s view of this issue, it should be noted that the Kingdom of Thailand remains one of the most tolerant jurisdictions in Asia when it comes to issues of race, religion, creed, and sexuality. Thailand has a significant and thriving LGBT community and even in the workplace the sexual preferences of employees are considered personal matters. This stands in stark comparison to the atmosphere in other Asian countries and even other jurisdictions within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). To quote from the website of Inter Press Service News Agency:

Sodomy is criminalised in six member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – namely, Brunei, Burma, Malaysia and Singapore, as well as Marawi City in the Philippines and the South Sumatra Province of Indonesia.

At a very early stage compared to other nations around the world (including the United States), in 1956 Thailand repealed the law making sodomy illegal thereby permitting intimate consensual relationships between consenting adults of the same sex. This decision placed Thailand among the most progressive nations in Asia (and the world) on the issue of LGBT equality.

However, it would appear that implementing policies to allow same sex marriage in Thailand is a more daunting endeavor. Many outsiders view Thailand as having a somewhat laissez-faire, perhaps even libertarian view, on social issues. In fact, many Thais are very conservative in their opinions, especially Thais of the older generations. This is not to say that such people are intolerant as many Thais maintain very conservative personal opinions while simultaneously remaining tolerant regarding the decisions and life choices of others (a dichotomy which makes Thailand such a wonderful and interesting place to live). However, this dichotomy must be taken into consideration by those pressing for changes to the Thai marriage laws as the Inter Press News Agency noted:

Danai Linjongrat, executive director of the Rainbow Sky Association, has been urging caution in the drafting of the civil union bill, so that it will not inadvertently fan the flames of intolerance and heighten regional stigmatisation of the LGBTIQ community. “We are looking for a bill that equalises all relationships,” he told IPS. “For example, the current marriage law grants heterosexual couples the right to marry once they reach the legal age of 17, but for LGBTIQ people the legal marriage age would be 20 years old.”

This blogger feels that it is likely that the rules regarding registration of marriage for same sex couples in Thailand will change at some point in the future. As the younger generation grows older it stands to reason that many will feel that the current legal prohibitions on same sex marriage are antiquated. Furthermore, Thai lawmakers often maintain a deep sense of pragmatism when it comes to issues which may impact tourism and foreign capital investment in the country. Should same sex marriages be permitted in Thailand, the already large LGBT tourism sector would likely grow due to others from Asia (and around the globe) traveling to Thailand to register their marriages. Also, those foreign nationals with a Thai same sex spouse would be more likely to bring their assets to a jurisdiction which recognizes their union as such a jurisdiction would provide ancillary benefits regarding issues such as estate planning, healthcare decision making, and taxation. Although LGBT equality is a human rights issue and not strictly one of economics, the economic component of the same sex marriage debate is one that lawmakers are likely to take seriously. The conclusion of the same sex marriage debate in Thailand remains to be seen, but a rational debate of this issue in Thailand is a good start.

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10th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Department of Homeland Security‘s United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is apparently compelling an Australian man, who is currently a partner in a same sex marriage with an American Citizen, to depart the USA. In order to provide further clarity on this situation it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the San Fransisco Chronicle, SFGate.com:

Citing the Defense of Marriage Act, the Obama administration denied immigration benefits to a married gay couple from San Francisco and ordered the expulsion of a man who is the primary caregiver to his AIDS-afflicted spouse. Bradford Wells, a U.S. citizen, and Anthony John Makk, a citizen of Australia, were married seven years ago in Massachusetts. They have lived together 19 years, mostly in an apartment in the Castro district. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services denied Makk’s application to be considered for permanent residency as a spouse of an American citizen, citing the 1996 law that denies all federal benefits to same-sex couples. The decision was issued July 26. Immigration Equality, a gay-rights group that is working with the couple, received the notice Friday and made it public Monday. Makk was ordered to depart the United States by Aug. 25. Makk is the sole caregiver for Wells, who has severe health problems…

The administration of this web log encourages interested readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to learn further details from this interesting story.

Frequent readers of this web log may recall that the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) preclude the federal government from recognizing a same sex marriage for purposes of distributing federal benefits. Therefore, same sex bi-national couples cannot acquire the same travel documents and visa benefits (such as the K-1 visa, CR-1 visa, or an IR-1 visa) as a different-sex couple notwithstanding the fact that the couple may be legally married in one of the State jurisdictions which legalize and/or solemnize such unions. It should be noted that legislation such as Representative Jerrold Nadler‘s Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) or the Respect for Marriage Act would rectify this situation to one degree or another. As of the time of this writing it remains to be seen whether this legislation will ultimately see enactment.

Meanwhile, in news of further interest to those who follow immigration matters; it recently came to this blogger’s attention that DHS has issued an announcement regarding a nationwide program to be administered by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (USICE, sometimes colloquially referred to as ICE). To provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the Washington Times, WashingtonTimes.com:

The District could be forced to participate in an immigration-enforcement program now that the federal government has issued a letter to states that voided their participation agreements and emphasized the program’s mandatory nature. The Department of Homeland Security sent the letter last week to governors of 39 states, including Maryland and Virginia, after three states expressed interest in opting out of their contracts with the federal Secure Communities program. The program allows U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to access fingerprints collected by state and local law enforcement and shared with the FBI. It was started in 2008 and has helped ICE identify and deport more than 86,000 convicted criminal aliens. “This is to avoid any further confusion,” ICE spokeswoman Nicole Navas said Monday. “We’ve made it clear. There’s no opting out.” DHS voided the agreements to clarify that they essentially served no purpose, and that states are required to remain in the program. Federal officials no longer will seek agreement with newly enrolled states and jurisdictions, and will simply notify them when they plan to implement the program…

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

Matters pertaining to immigration can be difficult to understand especially in the context of the United States Constitution since many of the immigration-related powers of the American Legislature and Executive are plenary in nature. How such powers interact with States’ Rights can be difficult to ascertain as the legal principles involved can be quite subtle. In any case, the ultimate resolution of this issue remains to be seen. Hopefully, a solution will present itself which will prove amenable for all concerned.

For information related to United States immigration from Thailand please see: Legal.

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9th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that some media outlets are noting the comparatively positive aspects of the economies which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In order to provide further insight to the reader it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of The Wall Street Journal, WSJ.com:

JAKARTA—Investors and companies should look to Southeast Asia as they seek shelter from the world-wide markets meltdown, said the secretary general of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Surin Pitsuwan noted that Southeast Asia is growing, it is nestled between India and China and it dealt with its own scary debt problems over a decade ago, making it an attractive alternative amid the global volatility triggered by concerns about how the U.S. and Europe will deal with their debt, as well as whether the U.S. economy will slide into recession again. “If they are looking for a safer haven, this is it,” he told The Wall Street Journal in an interview. “The Chinese and the Japanese that are worried will want to look around for better prospects for their investments and this is one of the hopeful regions…”

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this well written article by Eric Bellman in detail.

Frequent readers may recall that the ASEAN region as a whole, and the component jurisdictions therein, have shown tremendous economic strength in recent months. Meanwhile, these jurisdictions are believed by some to have substantial economic potential in the future. There has been some discussion in recent weeks regarding the prospect of a possible ASEAN visa not unlike the Schengen system currently employed in Europe. Whether such a program will ultimately be implemented remains to be seen. In any case, there is certainly strong evidence to support the inference that the ASEAN jurisdictions will be increasingly important in a geopolitical and economic context moving forward.

In news pertaining to the continuing struggle for LGBT Equality in the United States, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States appears to be refusing recognition of same sex marriages, even those legalized and/or solemnized in an American State jurisdiction. To provide further information this blogger is compelled to quote directly from the official website of MSNBC at MSN.com:

For all those same-sex newlyweds in New York, Lawrence S. Jacobs has a message: Enjoy the Champagne and the honeymoon, but expect no gifts from the IRS. Jacobs, a lawyer in Washington, specializes in estate planning for same-sex couples — and in delivering the bad news that their unions aren’t legal in the eyes of the IRS, a policy that will cost them time and money during tax season.Same-sex couples in Washington, which last year legalized gay marriage, must fill out a federal return to make calculations required for their D.C. joint return. But then they must set that work aside and fill out separate federal returns because the IRS doesn’t regard their union as legal, Jacobs says. “You just spent decades getting your marriage recognized, and now the feds say, ‘No, you’re not,’” says Jacobs, who as a partner in a same-sex marriage has firsthand experience of the problem.

The administration of this web log strongly encourages interested readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to view this story in detail.

Frequent readers may recall that the issue of same sex marriage has been a “hot button” issue in recent months as Senate Judiciary hearings have recently been held to scrutinize the Constitutionality of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) in light of proposed replacement legislation in the form of the bill colloquially referred to as the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA). In an immigration context, the issue of federal recognition of same sex marriage is of substantial importance since agencies such as the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and each and every US Embassy or US Consulate overseas is legally compelled to disregard a same sex marriage when adjudicating family visa matters pursuant to the provisions of DOMA. Therefore, bi-national same sex couples cannot obtain a travel document such as a K-1 visa, CR-1 visa, or IR-1 visa in the same manner as their different-sex counterparts. Meanwhile, there is some hope that this current legal discrimination will be overcome as some US Courts have ruled that DOMA’s non-recognition, at least at the federal level, of State licensed same sex marriage is Un-Constitutional. Concurrently, the United States Bankruptcy Courts have begun allowing joint bankruptcies for same sex married couples.

It remains to be seen whether same sex couples will ever be accorded the same benefits as their different-sex counterparts in the eyes of American law, but the overall situation appears to be gradually improving.

For related information please see: Americans Resident Abroad.

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3rd August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is taking steps to encourage entrepreneurial immigration to the United States of America. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the DHS, DHS.gov:

WASHINGTON—Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas today outlined a series of policy, operational, and outreach efforts to fuel the nation’s economy and stimulate investment by attracting foreign entrepreneurial talent of exceptional ability or who otherwise can create jobs, form startup companies, and invest capital in areas of high unemployment. “The United States must continue to attract the best and brightest from around the world to invest their talents, skills, and ideas to grow our economy and create American jobs,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Today’s announcements will help our nation fully realize the potential of existing immigration laws.” “Current immigration laws support foreign talent who will invest their capital, create new jobs for American workers, and dedicate their exceptional talent to the growth of our nation’s economy,” said Director Mayorkas. “USCIS is dedicated to ensuring that the potential of our immigration laws is fully realized, and the initiatives we announce today are an important step forward.” These actions mark the six-month anniversary of Startup America, a White House-led initiative to reduce barriers and accelerate growth for America’s job-creating entrepreneurs…

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

In previous postings on this blog it has been noted that travel documents such as the EB-5 visa can be a satisfactory tool for those wishing to travel to the United States for the purposes of investing and residence. It should be noted that there are other employment based visa categories such as the EB-2 visa, the EB-3 visa, the EB-1 visa, and the EB-4 visa which may be used by individuals who find themselves in differing factual circumstances. Meanwhile, visas such as the L-1 visa and the E-2 visa are often used by non-immigrants who wish to travel to the United States of America for the purpose of either undertaking specialized employment or investing in a small business therein. That stated, those seeking immigration benefits are well advised to contact an American immigration lawyer since issues associated with American immigration can be legally complex and the process can sometimes prove cumbersome for those unaccustomed to dealing with matters pending before various agencies within the American federal bureaucracy.

In news pertaining to the continuing struggle for LGBT Equality, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that an attorney for the United States government has filed a response in a case involving a New York woman suing the government to have her same sex marriage recognized. To quote directly from a posting by Mark Hamblett for the New York Law Journal on the website Law.com:

Congress has fired back in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act’s definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. In a motion to dismiss in the Southern District, former solicitor general Paul D. Clement and his legal team argue that the act, 1 U.S.C. §7, is entitled to a presumption of constitutionality, and that U.S. Supreme Court precedent holds that an exclusively heterosexual definition of marriage does not offend the equal protection clause. The motion came in Windsor v. United States, 10-cv-8435, which was brought by Edith Schlain Windsor…In his papers yesterday, Mr. Clement said that rational basis review, not heightened scrutiny, is the appropriate standard in judging the constitutionality of the statute and §3 “easily” passes that less exacting standard. In support of that view, he argues that DOMA does not infringe on the fundamental right to marriage, that “same-sex marriage is not a fundamental right” and that “DOMA implicates federal benefits, not the right of same-sex couples to marry.” Under the rational basis test, Mr. Clement said, Congress could have acted rationally “in the face of the unknown consequences of a proposed novel redefinition of the foundational social institution,” and it could have acted rationally to “protect the public fisc” in the balance it strikes in allocating federal burdens and benefits, and providing “consistency in eligibility for federal benefits based on marital status.” Congress also could have acted rationally “to avoid creating a social understanding that begetting and rearing children is not inextricably bound up with marriage” and to “foster marriages that provide children with parents of both sexes.”

This blogger recommends that readers click upon the hyperlinks above to read this article in detail as it is very enlightening about this case and the issues associated therewith.

The case noted above is interesting insofar as the underlying same sex marriage appears to have been legalized in Canada as opposed to another United States jurisdiction. How this fact will color a final adjudication remains to be seen, but it could have an adverse impact upon the outcome of the case as Full Faith and Credit issues pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution may not be relevant under the circumstances. Frequent readers may recall that in an immigration context the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” precludes immigration benefits such as the K-1 visa, the CR-1 visa, or the IR-1 visa from same sex bi-national couples even if they have been married in an American jurisdiction which legalizes and/or solemnizes same sex marriages. Legislation such as Representative Jerrold Nadler‘s Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) and the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) would ameliorate this discrimination, but such legislation has yet to see enactment.

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

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19th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the President of the United States of America may be changing his position on the issue of same sex marriage in the context of a repeal of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). To quote directly from an article written by Helene Cooper and posted on the official website of the The New York Times, NYTimes.com:

WASHINGTON — President Obama will endorse a bill to repeal the law that limits the legal definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman, the White House said Tuesday, taking another step in support of gay rights. Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said Mr. Obama was taking the additional step away from the Defense of Marriage Act — which the administration said earlier this year it would no longer defend in court — in order to “uphold the principle that the federal government should not deny gay and lesbian couples the same rights and legal protections as straight couples.” If the measure passes, it would make same-sex couples eligible for certain federal benefits that have previously been available only to heterosexual married couples…

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

This news comes virtually contemporaneously with the announcement that the United States Senate’s Judiciary Committee is set to hold hearings on the issue of DOMA and the possible promulgation of legislation such as the Respect for Marriage Act. Such legislation would provide “certainty” to those same sex couples who have married in one of the States which allows same sex unions. Currently, same sex bi-national couples are barred from receiving American immigration benefits such as the CR-1 visa, K-1 visa, or IR-1 visa as section 3 of DOMA precludes awarding such benefits even if a same sex marriage has been legalized and/or solemnized by one of the sovereign American States.

In related news, it would appear as though advocacy groups calling for the repeal of DOMA are stressing the immediacy of the upcoming hearings and how a show of support could have a positive impact upon the legislative process. In order to shed further light upon these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the Instinct website, InstinctMagazine.com:

With the Senate set to begin the DOMA hearing tomorrow, the Courage Campaign is asking the community to help get the urgency across by participating in a new viral campaign. But no signatures here! Find out how to get involved after the jump. Two years ago, Courage Campaign launched “Fidelity,” a multimedia video focused on Prop. 8, urging the courts to not forcibly divorce same-sex families. With the first-ever repeal hearing for the Defense Of Marriage Act about to begin tomorrow in D.C., community leaders are calling on us all to get involved with “Fidelity II…”

The administration of this web log encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read further from this interesting posting.

It remains to be seen how these issues will play out, but it should be noted that there are other considerations inherent to this issue apart from Civil Rights and Equal Protection principles. For example, there are certain States’ Rights components to an analysis of American jurisprudence regarding the legality of the federal government’s refusal to recognize same sex marriages legalized and/or solemnized in the sovereign States since notions of Full Faith and Credit pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution come into play. Meanwhile, there are some who could argue that notions of natural rights and natural law should not be overlooked in any analysis of possible DOMA repeal. As this situation continues to evolve it should prove interesting to see how this issue is ultimately resolved.

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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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8th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that a Federal Court injunction has once again been put into effect with respect to the issue of the American military’s so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. To provide further information on this matter it is necessary to quote directly from the online home of the San Fransisco Chronicle at SFGate.com:

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court ordered a halt Wednesday to the armed forces’ policy of discharging openly gay service members, citing the impending demise of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the Obama administration’s escalating criticism of antigay laws. Congress has already voted to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the 1993 law that barred military service by gays and lesbians who disclose their sexual orientation. But the repeal was due to take effect only after the Pentagon certified that the change in the law would not interfere with military readiness or recruiting, a finding the Obama administration had projected for the end of this year. On Wednesday, however, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco – which had previously allowed the government to follow its own timetable – reinstated a federal judge’s injunction that had briefly barred enforcement of the law last fall before it was suspended…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read all of this interesting story by the aforementioned newspaper’s staff writer Bob Egelko.

As has been previously pointed out in the pages of this web log, the American Armed Forces should be commended for their efforts to quickly and efficiently integrate the LGBT community into their honored ranks. This blogger would speculate that the open inclusion of members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (also sometimes referred to colloquially as the “third sex” in Thailand) community will only make the United States military a stronger and more cohesive force for the advancement of freedom and liberty around the globe. Posterity may one day note that the aforementioned injunction was not necessary, but the force of law which comes “part and parcel” with a federal injunction can only help the efforts of those struggling for LGBT equality.

Readers may note that the American federal government does not recognize same sex marriage even those same sex marital unions which are legalized and/or solemnized by one of the sovereign American States. Although, it would appear as though one major obstacle in the path of LGBT equality could soon be overcome since the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate may soon hold hearings regarding the repeal of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) with an eye toward the possible recommendation of something similar to the Respect for Marriage Act. In order to provide detailed information regarding these developments it may be wise to quote directly from Advocate.com:

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a first-ever hearing on efforts to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act “in the coming weeks,” committee chair Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont announced Thursday. A committee spokeswoman said a date has yet to be set for the hearing on the Respect for Marriage Act, introduced in March by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and currently supported by 25 senate cosponsors, including Leahy and New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand. A witness list for the hearing, which will be webcast, has not been finalized…

This blogger strongly encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to read from this insightful article by Andrew Harmon.

Frequent readers of this blog may have noticed that a piece of legislation similar to that noted above was also introduced in the United States House of Representatives by Representative Jerrold Nadler who also introduced the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) which is a bill that would provide United States visa benefits to same sex bi-national couples which would be substantially similar to those currently enjoyed by many different-sex bi-national couples (ex. the CR-1 visa, the IR-1 visa, or the K-1 visa). It should be noted that Representative Mike Honda also appears to have included UAFA-like language in the provisions of his proposed Reuniting Families Act. As of the time of this writing, none of this legislation has seen passage. However, in order for any bill to become a law it must first see passage in both houses of the American Congress and Senate Judiciary Committee hearings are a vital first step in effecting legislative change at the Senatorial level. Therefore, these developments may ultimately prove to be of the initial phases in a process that culminates with full LGBT equality under the law of the United States of America.

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

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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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1st July 2011

During a recent exploration of the World Wide Web it came to this blogger’s attention that there are increasing numbers of websites reporting on issues associated with same sex marriage and the legal ramifications of such unions upon both the accordance of federal benefits and the issuance of United States visas. In a previous posting on this blog it was noted that the sovereign State of New York recently enacted legislation which would legalize same sex marriage in that jurisdiction. However, there are those who would argue that the struggle for LGBT Equality is far from finished. To provide further insight into these unfolding events it may be best to quote directly from the TheNation.com:

[W]hile this is certainly a moment to celebrate, same-sex couples in New York are not out of the woods yet. Because of the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) passed by Congress in 1996, the federal government does not honor any same-sex marriages performed in the states. So as thousands of gay and lesbian couples are married in New York over the coming months, the federal government will treat those legally married couples as strangers and deny them more than a thousand federal rights and protections of marriage, including Social Security spousal benefits, fair tax treatment and the right to sponsor a spouse for a visa or citizenship.

Readers are encouraged to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this interesting article in detail. As noted previously in multiple postings on this web log the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) create a situation in which the federal government precludes recognition of same sex marriage even where one of the sovereign American States has legalized and/or solemnized such a union. This has lead some to note that failure on the part of the federal government to recognize such unions results in something of an abrogation of the notion of Full Faith and Credit as enshrined in the United States Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause. That stated, some federal legislators, such as Representative Jerrold Nadler and Representative Mike Honda, have introduced legislation  such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), the Respect for Marriage Act, and the Reuniting Families Act which are designed to mitigate some of the discrimination imposed by application of DOMA. As of the time of this writing, however, none of the aforementioned legislation has been enacted.

Bearing in mind the facts noted above, the reader should note that there have been some other positive developments, albeit relatively minor, in the struggle for full equality. In order to shed further light upon these developments it may be prudent to quote directly from the website LGBTQNation.com:

Another battle which is loosening the Jenga pieces under this bigoted piece of legislation is the fight for immigration rights by bi-national couples. One such case that we’ve covered is that of Henry Valendia and Josh Vandiver, a legally married couple residing in New Jersey. Under DOMA, Valendia, a Venezuelan national, was denied legal residency. Last month, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder vacated a decision made by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)…[S]ome incredible news came to the Valencia-Vandiver family on Wednesday in the form of a dismissal by Jane H. Minichiello, the chief counsel at the Newark office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and arm of the Homeland Security Department…

The administration of this web log asks readers to click upon the appropriate hyperlinks noted above to learn further details from this fascinating article.

It is certainly heartening to see that the United States government appears to have dismissed the proceedings related to this same sex bi-national couple. That stated, it is certainly possible that this may remain, at least for the time being, an isolated incident as the provisions of DOMA appear to still be in force. Hopefully, this case is the first in a long line of cases in which the LGBT community sees Full Faith and Credit and Equal Protection under the law of the United States of America.

For related information please see: US Visa Thailand.

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25th June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the sovereign State of New York has recently passed legislation which would permit same sex marriage in that jurisdiction. To provide further insight into these developments it may be prudent to quote directly from an Associated Press article written by Michael Gormley and posted to the Yahoo News section of Yahoo.com:

ALBANY, N.Y. – Same-sex marriage is now legal in New York after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that was narrowly passed by state lawmakers Friday, handing activists a breakthrough victory in the state where the gay rights movement was born. New York becomes the sixth state where gay couples can wed and the biggest by far. “We are leaders and we join other proud states that recognize our families and the battle will now go on in other states,” said Sen. Thomas Duane, a Democrat. Gay rights advocates are hoping the vote will galvanize the movement around the country and help it regain momentum after an almost identical bill was defeated here in 2009 and similar measures failed in 2010 in New Jersey and this year in Maryland and Rhode Island…

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

Frequent readers of this blog may recall that Governor Andrew Cuomo has also been on the vanguard of initiatives designed to provide some protection for America’s immigrant communities. As the former Attorney-General of New York he has executed policies to counter immigration scams perpetrated against immigrants in the State of New York. To provide further insight into these developments this blogger felt it prudent to quote another source regarding these events. To quote directly from an article written by Marcia Kramer and posted on the website of CBS New York at CBSLocal.com:

ALBANY (CBSNewYork/AP) — Gay marriage will soon become legal in New York state after the Republican-controlled Senate narrowly voted in favor of the controversial bill on Friday night. Advocates are calling it a historic step as New York is now set to become the sixth but by far the largest state to legalize same-sex marriage. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who campaigned on the issue last year, has promised to sign the bill. Gay weddings could begin 30 days after that…

This blogger encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to read this insightful article in detail.

There is little doubt that these developments are very significant for the LGBT community, but the struggle for full equality is far from finished as these developments may be cold comfort to those same sex bi-national couples who currently cannot be reunited in the United States due to the American federal government’s continued enforcement of the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) a piece of legislation which forbids the United States federal government from granting any form of recognition to same sex marriages even when those marriages are duly solemnized and/or legalized in one of the sovereign American States which recognizes such marital unions. Currently, proposed legislation such as Representative Jerrold Nadler‘s Respect for Marriage Act and the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA, a proposed piece of legislation which would rectify the current application of DOMA in an immigration context); or Representative Mike Honda‘s Reuniting Families Act would attempt to rectify, to one degree or another, the current discrimination borne by the LGBT community.

More American States seem to be heeding the call of their citizenry and taking legislative action to provide support for America’s LGBT families. Hopefully all of these developments eventually lead to a broad based recognition of the individual natural rights of all Americans.

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

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