Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘lgbt immigration’

17th September 2013

Since the relatively recent decision from the United States Supreme Court known colloquially as the Windsor decision, there have been a few lingering questions from members of the LGBT community regarding the United States immigration options now available for same sex couples.

Due to section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the past it was not possible for same sex married couples (even those with a valid marriage in one of those American jurisdictions permitting same sex marriage) to receive federal benefits based upon their marriages. This lack of federal recognition precluded the possibility of a United States Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident sponsoring a foreign spouse or fiance for a US marriage visa or a US fiance visa. With the high Court’s pronouncement that same sex marriage should be accorded the same recognition as different sex marriage this all changed.

Section 3 of DOMA reads as follows:

In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.

From the moment the Supreme Court ruled this section unConstitutional, the Federal government was instantly required to allot the same benefits to lawfully married same sex and LGBT couples as would be allotted to different sex couples in similar circumstances. What does this mean from an immigration standpoint? LGBT and same sex couples are now permitted to petition and apply for the same types of visas as their different sex counterparts. Therefore, a couple of the same sex who is already married in the U.S. or a foreign jurisdiction recognizing such unions may now apply for a U.S. marriage visa such as the CR1 visa, the IR1 visa, or the K3 visa. Furthermore, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has made it clear that they will also adjudicate K1 Visa petitions (petitions for immigration benefits for foreign fiances of U.S. Citizens) for same sex couples in the same way that such petitions are adjudicated for different sex couples.

The Catch Section 2

One issue that has been of concern for experts studying this issue is the practical impact of the Court’s seeming unwillingness to speak to the issue of the Constitutionality of Section 2 of DOMA. Section 2 of DOMA reads as follows:

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

The fact that Section 2 of DOMA has not been overturned means that same sex couples may NOT receive the same STATE benefits as their different sex counterparts depending upon the local laws of the couples’ State of residence and notwithstanding the fact that the couple may have a perfectly legal marriage in one of those U.S. jurisdictions allowing such marriages. An example of how this could work in a practical sense would be a situation where the same sex couple is married legally in one state, but resides in a state which forbids same sex unions, a spouse having state retirement benefits may not be able to fully pass on their retirement benefits to their same sex spouse. How would this work in an immigration context? USCIS and the Department of State have already issued answers to a series of frequently asked questions regarding LGBT immigration. On the question of US fiance visas, the USCIS as well as the State Department have noted that so long as the couple has a bona fide intention to celebrate their marriage in one of those states which permit such unions then the immigration petition and application will be adjudicated no differently than a similarly situation petition or application for a different-sex couple.

One issue which may be concerning for same sex partners in the Kingdom of Thailand arises from the fact that, at present, same sex marriage is not legal under Thai law and therefore authorities in Thailand will not register a marriage to two people of the same sex. That stated, there is currently legislation being drafted to allow same sex marriage in Thailand. However, as of the time of this writing it is not clear whether the Thai government will ultimately pass said legislation. As there is not another jurisdiction in the region which recognizes same sex unions, it may not be feasible for same sex partners to marry prior to submitting a US marriage visa petition. This leaves many same sex Thai-American couples in a position where their only option is to apply for a K-1 fiance visa and marry in the United States.

For related information, please see: K1 Visa Thailand.

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25th June 2013

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

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

“In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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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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.

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

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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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15th June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States judicial system recently played host to a proceeding in which the issue of judicial recusal was discussed in the context of a recent case upholding the Constitutionality of same sex marriage in the sovereign State of California. To provide further insight into these developments it may be best to quote directly from the official website of the Associated Press, AP.org:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge has a message for those trying to salvage California’s gay marriage ban: Sure, the judge who threw out the measure last year is in a long-term relationship with a man, but he could still be fair to them. Chief U.S. District Court Judge James Ware’s ruling Tuesday rejected arguments that former Chief Judge Vaughn Walker would potentially benefit from declaring the ban unconstitutional…

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

For those unfamiliar with the current plight of the LGBT community in the United States it should be noted that the currently enforced provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) preclude same sex couples, including same sex bi-national couples, from acquiring the same legal and/or equitable benefits as their different sex counterparts. This issue arises in the context of American immigration in that same sex married couples, even those married in one of the sovereign American States which allow such unions, cannot obtain American visa benefits. Recently, 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, and the Reuniting Families Act which are intended to rectify this discrimination to one degree or another. That stated, it is this blogger’s opinion that this issue may ultimately be resolved by the US Courts. With that in mind, the following was quoted directly from the aforementioned article:

In his 19-page decision – a response to the first attempt in the nation to disqualify a judge based on sexual orientation – Ware had a bigger message. Gay judges, he said, are just like minority and female jurists: They can be impartial, too, even in cases that might affect them. “We all have an equal stake in a case that challenges the constitutionality of a restriction on a fundamental right,” he wrote. “The single characteristic that Judge Walker shares with the plaintiffs, albeit one that might not have been shared with the majority of Californians, gave him no greater interest in a proper decision on the merits than would exist for any other judge or citizen…

This decision is significant for the LGBT community as it elucidates the notion that one’ sexual orientation is not necessarily a bar to impartial decision making. Although the decision in this case does not go to the heart of the struggle for LGBT equality, it does provide a glimmer of hope for LGBT couples that further positive developments may lie ahead.

For related information please see: Proposition 8 or Full Faith and Credit Clause.

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13th June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that issues surrounding same sex marriage have recently been analyzed by mainstream media outlets. To shed light upon this development further it may be best to quote directly from an insightful article written by Tara Siegel Bernard on the official website of the New York Times, NYTimes.com:

“There is the possibility that, even without DOMA on the books at all, that a married same-sex couple might not be treated as married by the federal government as to some particular program, benefit or obligation because of simply how the particular federal program determines eligibility in looking to state law to see if a person is married or not,” said Gary Buseck, legal director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders…But legislators have come up with a fix. The Respect for Marriage Act, which was introduced in both the House and Senate in March, repeals the Defense of Marriage Act and  also includes a provision — known as “certainty” — that says marriages that are valid in the state where the couple got married will be recognized in other states for the “purposes of any federal law in which marital status is a factor…”

The administration of this blog strongly recommends that readers click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to learn more.

In previous postings on this web log it has been pointed out that the ramifications of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) are such that discrimination results for same sex bi-national couples as well as the LGBT community at large. In recent years, 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. The Respect for Marriage Act would seem to have been designed in order to deal with some of the more glaring separate sovereignty issues that arise in the context of intraState, interState, and State-Federal recognition of same sex marriage. To expound upon this more it may be best to quote further from the aforementioned article:

Technically speaking, he said, the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act on its own should be enough for couples to receive federal recognition. But the certainty provision would also protect couples if a less gay-friendly administration interpreted the repeal more narrowly, and only recognized same-sex marriage for couples who lived in states that recognized their marriage. Mr. Moulton said that his organization was still working with members of Congress to build support for the bill, and educating them about “the concrete harms that DOMA has done to same-sex couples…”

For those who read this blog with any frequency it has, no doubt, been noticed that the administration is in opposition to the very existence of DOMA as that legislation infringes upon the sovereign rights of the States and the people to make decisions regarding the licensure of marriage and the maintenance of consensual relationships, respectively. That stated, since DOMA is still “on the books” it currently results in the separation of same sex bi-national couples in an immigration context and discrimination against the LGBT community in a broader sense. This certainty provision noted above is interesting as it pertains primarily to Federal rights and privileges in an interState context. Therefore, if a same sex couple marries in a State which legalizes and/or solemnizes same sex marriage, then the Federal benefits derived therefrom would likely travel with that couple no matter what State they travel to and no matter what Federal benefit they seek. This blogger would argue that perhaps this scenario would already occur pursuant to the privileges and/or immunities clauses, but in this situation it may be best to have some legislative guidance in order to streamline possible future policies pertaining to same sex marriages. As of the time of this writing UAFA, the Respect for Marriage, and the Reuniting Families Act have yet to be adopted, but hopefully, for the LGBT community’s sake, that will change sooner rather than later.

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

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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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28th May 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that there appears to be some further international competition occurring within discussions in the context of the recently vacated IMF Managing Directorship. To quote directly from a very insightful article appearing on the website rediff.com:

The scramble for International Monetary Fund managing director’s chair has escalated into a war of sorts with developing nations calling for a change in the power equation. Most of the developing nations seek an end to European dominance over the IMF’s top job. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said the developing countries should be together in the attempt to reform the global financial institutions.

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

It is interesting to note that this posting brings up the apparently increasing international intrigue which seems to exist as the jockeying for the position of IMF Managing Director appears to continue unabated. The aforementioned post was recently vacated upon the arrest of former Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn in New York City. Mr. Kahn has yet to be proven guilty of a crime to the best of this blogger’s knowledge and therefore remains innocent until proven guilty pursuant to United States law. Relevant to that news the Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) raised the issue of broader international representation within the IMF in favor of developing nations with specific emphasis upon an Asian context. This announcement occurred virtually simultaneously (in a relative context) with a joint statement from the so-called BRICS nations. To quote further from Rediff.com:

Although some European nations have declared their support for French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, the BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — have issued a joint statement in Washington questioning the methodology of selection of IMF chief on the basis of nationality.

Although the BRICS have something relevant to say on that issue, certainly as relevant as the opinions held by the member nations of ASEAN, it is interesting to note that there appears to be some speculation regarding the efforts of China to secure some sort of position for a Chinese national within the International Monetary Fund. To quote further directly from Rediff.com

BRICS said it is time to ‘abandon the obsolete unwritten convention that requires that the head of the IMF be necessarily from Europe’. Meanwhile, unconfirmed news reports said that the European Union has offered the post of the deputy managing director of the IMF to a Chinese candidate in exchange for its support to Christine Lagarde.

Again, this blogger encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to learn more.

This blogger was somewhat amused upon reading the paragraph noted above as the scene is placed in perspective as the angling for positions at the IMF can be seen to have the same political dynamics that may develop when seeking positions in other official capacities, in both a national and international context, as competition for such positions can be as political as the competition in the United States of America for an office in the public service at both the federal and State levels. It would seem that under the circumstances there must be someone whom all of these various factions can agree upon, but by all appearances a consensus is far from reached. An inability to find someone to fill the void could theoretically require further discussion.

In political matters of a more national complexion for American readers it recently came to this blogger’s attention that headway might be made in the struggle for equal LGBT rights. To quote directly from a very inspirational posting by the administration of the UnitingAmericanFamilies.Net website:

Immigration Equality reports that a hearing on UAFA before the Senate Judiciary Committee has been scheduled for June 3. I just have to believe that every phone call, every letter, every blog entry has got to have contributed to this. But this is just a hearing – not a vote, and then, even if it gets voted out of committee in the Senate, the same will have to happen on the House side, and then there will have to be votes by the full House and Senate (IF there are enough votes in the Senate to stop a Republican filibuster). So don’t for a second think that our work is done! Call your two senators and your one Congressperson. Tell your story…

The administration of this blog strongly recommends that readers check out the hyperlinks noted above as well as the overall website as it has a great deal of very pertinent information regarding the Uniting American Families Act, previously introduced into the United States House of Representatives by Representative Jerrold Nadler. There is an especially intriguing article regarding the difference between passage of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) and the repeal or overturning of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), which this blogger finds repugnant to the Constitution on the grounds that it unnecessarily usurps the Several States’ sovereign power to license marriage within their jurisdiction, but it would appear that some feel the more modest measure of UAFA enactment would be a more effective remedy for this particular discrimination suffered by the American LGBT community, in both a bi-national and national context, at the hands of an overreaching federal government in a pique over the fact that they are not legally entitled to dictate to the several States what shall constitute a valid marriage. Six States, notwithstanding the District of Columbia, have already permitted such unions which in this blogger’s humble opinion, should be accorded Full Faith and Credit pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution.

Bearing all of the above in mind, those interested in seeing the Uniting American Families Act, or any act like it; become law, are well advised to contact relevant federal representatives as any equitable relief to same sex bi-national couples currently separated by legislation such as DOMA would be better than the current legal situation in which they are now placed. Due to the currently applicable provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” same sex bi-national married couples (even those who have a had a marriage solemnized and/or legalized by a sovereign American State) are not permitted to apply for the same United States immigration benefits as their different-sex counterparts. Passage and ultimate enactment of UAFA would at least permit same sex bi-national couples to petition and apply for substantially the same immigration benefits routinely accorded to different-sex couples.

For related information please see: Legal.

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13th May 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that a Congressman from the sovereign State of California has recently introduced legislation which is designed to improve the current American immigration system. It would appear that one of the proposed improvements would also provide immigration benefits to same sex bi-national couples. To quote directly from the Washington Blade at WashingtonBlade.com:

A U.S. House member from California on Thursday introduced family immigration legislation that includes language allowing gay Americans to sponsor their foreign partners for residency in the United States. Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) introduced the Reuniting Families Act, which has a provision that would protect bi-national same-sex couples as one of its six prongs to keep families together in the country.

Readers of this web log are strongly encouraged to click upon the hyperlinks above to find out further details on this unfolding story.

This blogger personally found it interesting that this bill would also address grievances held by Lawful Permanent Residents (Green Card holders) and their families. To quote further from the aforementioned article:

In addition to including UAFA-like language, Honda’s legislation would help shorten the wait times that can keep legal immigrants and their overseas loved ones separated for years. The bill would classify spouses and children of permanent U.S. residents as “immediate relatives” and exempt them from numerical caps on immigration.

It is genuinely unfortunate that some find themselves caught up in the immigration process for substantial periods of time awaiting adjudication of their immigration and visa matters.

Those unfamiliar with the provisions of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), as recently re-introduced in the Federal legislature by Representative Jerrold Nadler, should note that this legislation would circumvent the current provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) which currently separates a large number of bi-national couples since the federal government will not recognize same sex unions for purposes of distributing federal benefits. Upon enactment of legislation similar to that noted above, same sex bi-national couples could be eligible to receive American immigration benefits in the form of travel documents such as the K-1 visa (US fiance visa) or the CR-1 visa (US Marriage Visa). Currently same-sex couples cannot obtain these immigration benefits in the same manner as their different-sex counter parts. This is true in spite of the fact that multiple sovereign American States currently solemnize, legalize, and/or recognize same sex marriage or marital unions. As can be gathered from previous postings on this blog, this state of affairs is questionably Constitutional and for that reason there are currently cases arising in the State of California and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts which would overturn at least portions of DOMA.

It is heartening to see more legislators joining the struggle for further equality in America. Readers and proponents of this legislation can, at this time, only hope that further action will be taken in Washington D.C. to see that the current valid grievances of the LGBT community are redressed.

For those interested in learning more about this legislation please check out the official website of Representative Mike Honda.

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