Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Obama Administration’

23rd August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice has apparently filed a memorandum noting un-Constitutional discrimination imposed pursuant to the provisions of section 3 of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). In order to provide further insight this blogger is compelled to quote directly from the official website of Instinct Magazine, InstinctMagazine.com:

President Obama’s Department of Justice filed a memo in support of Edie Windsor’s case against the “Defense of Marriage Act” on Friday, marking the second time the Administration has officially stated its opposition to the discriminatory law.

Windsor, who was subjected to unjust federal taxes after her partner of 44-years passed away in 2007, filed a lawuit challenging DOMA. Last week, the DOJ added its weight of support to her claims.

Written in the memo:

Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutionally discriminates. Section 3 treats same-sex couples who are legally married under their states’ laws differently than similarly situated opposite-sex couples, denying them the status, recognition, and significant federal benefits otherwise available to married persons. Under well-established factors set forth by the Supreme Court to guide the determination whether heightened scrutiny applies to a classification that singles out a particular group, discrimination based on sexual orientation merits heightened scrutiny. Under this standard of review, Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional.

But the DOJ states in the brief:

-DOMA is discriminatory

-Sexual orientation is an immutable characteristic

-Anti-gay discrimination on religious grounds is unconstitutional

-LGBTs make good parents

-DOMA is harmful to children…

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

As DOMA is currently interpreted and enforced by the American government same sex married couples cannot obtain immigration and visa benefits such as a K-1 visa, a CR-1 visa, or an IR-1 visa. This current state of affairs may contravene notions of Full Faith and Credit as enshrined in the United States Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause. However, as there has yet to be a final resolution in the US Courts on the matter and as the United States Congress has yet to pass legislation such as the Respect for Marriage Act or the Uniting American Families Act the ultimate fate of same sex bi-national couples in America remains to be seen.

In news related to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN which includes the following jurisdictions: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam), it recently came to this blogger’s attention that there are those noting the possibility of further ASEAN economic progress in the coming months and years. In order to provide further information on these issues it is necessary to quote directly from the website of the Bangkok Post, BangkokPost.com:

CIMB Thai Bank is developing an infrastructure base to cope with greater business opportunities offered by the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, said chief finance executive Narongchai Wongthanavimok. Its major shareholder, CIMB Group, expects the AEC will increase deals in the region. The group has a strong network across Asean that can support CIMBT’s expansion in the region. The bank developed a core banking system and improved its financial support to cope with international transactions, he said. The Malaysia-based CIMB Group has the largest branch network in Asean with 1,105 subsidiaries across Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. It also has plans for branches in Cambodia, India and Sri Lanka. The financial group is helmed by people from the region and it reaches 81% of the Asean population, representing 89% of the region’s gross domestic product…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks above to view this insightful article in detail.

One could infer from the information above that the increasing economic integration of ASEAN and the emergence of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) may result in further economic benefits for the jurisdictions which comprise the organization and region. As noted above, the ramifications of these developments could have implications for economies such as those of India and Sri Lanka since the increasing business and trade occurring in Southeast Asia could “spillover” into those nations. Meanwhile, discussion pertaining to an ASEAN visa have yet to result in the creation of a tangible unified ASEAN travel document. How all of the developments noted above will evolve over time and the ultimate fate of ASEAN’s economy remains to be seen, but there is clearly a trend of increasing optimism regarding the future of Southeast Asia’s economy.

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

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22nd August 2011

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

Quoted Directly From Wikipedia, Wikipedia.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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16th July 2011

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me…

[F]amous statement attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group.”

quoted directly from the official website of  Wikipedia, Wikipedia.org

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the former Secretary of Defense of the United States of America has been the subject of a so-called “enhanced patdown” (A.K.A grope down) administered by the TSA.  To quote directly from a very insightful article by Josh Rogin posted in The Cable on the official website of Foreign Policy, ForeignPolicy.com:

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was on the other side of the homeland security policies his administration helped to create today when he was held up and patted down at the airport after setting off the metal detectors on his way to board a flight…Rumsfeld was in Chicago to attend a panel and luncheon hosted by the Heritage Foundation and was on the way to Grand Rapids, MI to attend the funeral of Betty Ford, whom he called “one of America’s most beloved first ladies.”

This blogger asks readers to click on the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in full and thereby gain insight into what apparently happened.

In this blogger’s opinion, the news above elucidates the fundamental absurdity and ridiculousness of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), as of late, especially in light of the United States Constitution’s 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.To provide poignant context it is again necessary to quote Wikipedia’s 4th Amendment entry:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

In what way is it reasonable to assume that groping a former Defense Secretary is reasonable while he is traveling to the funeral of a former First Lady? Where is the probable cause for this activity? Where is the warrant for such an invasion of Mr. Rumsfeld’s personal space? These events seem rather ironic since it was Mr. Bush’s administration that began these Constitutionally-suspect practices. However, that should not divert the reader’s attention from the severity of this state of affairs. At what point did it become reasonable to deny everyone their Constitutional right to be free from unwanted touching? Or, perhaps more specifically unwanted searches of persons without a warrant supported by probable cause? To provide further insight, it is necessary to quote from another section of Wikipedia discussing fundamental legal issues associated with the American Constitution:

The U.S. Declaration of Independence states that it has become necessary for the United States to assume “the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them”. Some early American lawyers and judges perceived natural law as too tenuous, amorphous and evanescent a legal basis for grounding concrete rights and governmental limitations.[3] Natural law did, however, serve as authority for legal claims and rights in some judicial decisions, legislative acts, and legal pronouncements.[66] Robert Lowry Clinton argues that the U.S. Constitution rests on a common law foundation and the common law, in turn, rests on a classical natural law foundation.[67]

This quotation above is important because it demonstrates the reason for the very existence of the 4th Amendment itself. Namely: to codify extremely important, yet utterly subtle natural rights. The founders were well aware of the fact some natural rights are so inherent to the very fiber of We The People‘s being that they are (under the weight of occasionally specious yet tempting legal reasoning) sometimes subject to being taken for granted by dint of their almost ethereal nature.

Readers are asked to bear the above in mind as this blogger feels compelled to quote directly from the website of My Fox New York, MyFoxNY.com:

[A] Colorado woman is accused of putting her hands on a TSA agent at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. Court records show 61-year-old Yukari Mihamae grabbed the left breast of the female agent Thursday at the Terminal 4 checkpoint…Mihamae now faces a felony count of sexual abuse. According to court records, she lives in Longmont, Colorado and is self-employed…

Readers are asked to click upon the hyperlinks above to read this article in detail. It is also necessary to point out that the woman in question noted above is innocent until proven guilty of any charge under American law and the American justice system’s adherence to Blackstone’s Formulation. That said, it will, no doubt, be interesting to ascertain the facts surrounding this incident since the lead-up to this incident may, at the least, provide context. Travel is stressful to begin with and, in this blogger’s opinion, such stress is only compounded by the duress which arises with the prospect of an invasive pat-down and the insistence, with little legal foundation, that such a pat-down be imposed.

In a somewhat startling turn of similar events it would appear that a woman in the sovereign State of Tennessee has been subjected to arrest as a result of an incident involving the TSA. In order to provide further insight on these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the Mail Online website at DailyMail.co.uk:

A mother has been arrested after refusing to let her child be searched by a TSA agent. Andrea Fornella Abbott, 41, was arrested at Nashville International Airport on Saturday after telling agents she did not want her daughter to be ‘touched inappropriately’ or have her ‘crotch grabbed,’ according to a police report. Mrs Abbott acted ‘belligerent and verbally abusive to staff’, yelling and swearing at them, according to the report. Police said after the woman refused to calm down she was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks above to read the totality of this report. Readers are reminded that those arrested in the United States of America are, as noted previously, viewed in the eyes of the law as innocent until proven guilty.
A wiser person than this blogger once wryly noted that even in matters pertaining to the law it is imprudent to attempt to try to interpose between a mother and a child whom the mother believes may be in distress. Such interposition may be especially imprudent if not fully backed by the Full Faith and Credit of American law. With that in mind it recently came to this blogger’s attention that Member of the United States House of Representatives, Representative Ron Paul, recently announced what would appear to be the re-introduction of a bill that could ameliorate some of the duress currently being borne by innocent Americans. To quote directly from the official website of Representative Paul:

Mr. Speaker, today I introduce legislation to protect Americans from physical and emotional abuse by federal Transportation Security Administration employees conducting screenings at the nation’s airports. We have seen the videos of terrified children being grabbed and probed by airport screeners. We have read the stories of Americans being subjected to humiliating body imaging machines and/or forced to have the most intimate parts of their bodies poked and fondled. We do not know the potentially harmful effects of the radiation emitted by the new millimeter wave machines. In one recent well-publicized case, a TSA official is recorded during an attempted body search saying, “By buying your ticket you gave up a lot of rights.” I strongly disagree and am sure I am not alone in believing that we Americans should never give up our rights in order to travel. As our Declaration of Independence states, our rights are inalienable. This TSA version of our rights looks more like the “rights” granted in the old Soviet Constitutions, where freedoms were granted to Soviet citizens — right up to the moment the state decided to remove those freedoms…Imagine if the political elites in our country were forced to endure the same conditions at the airport as business travelers, families, senior citizens, and the rest of us. Perhaps this problem could be quickly resolved if every cabinet secretary, every Member of Congress, and every department head in the Obama administration were forced to submit to the same degrading screening process as the people who pay their salaries…

The administration of this blog strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this announcement in detail. The legislation to which Representative Paul so passionately refers would appear to be the so-called American Traveller Dignity Act of 2010 or H.R. 6416 which provides that:

No law of the United States shall be construed to confer any immunity for a Federal employee or agency or any individual or entity that receives Federal funds, who subjects an individual to any physical contact (including contact with any clothing the individual is wearing), x-rays, or millimeter waves, or aids in the creation of or views a representation of any part of a individual’s body covered by clothing as a condition for such individual to be in an airport or to fly in an aircraft. The preceding sentence shall apply even if the individual or the individual’s parent, guardian, or any other individual gives consent.

This administration asks readers to click upon the links above to read about the totality of this information. In the interest of full disclosure to the reader it must be confessed that these pat-downs are not just the source of academic annoyance for this blogger as he was recently the victim of one of these “pat-downs”. When this blogger inquired as to the authority for the search especially in light of the Right to travel enshrined in the provisions of the 14th Amendment and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures without due process of law in the form of a warrant supported by probable cause pursuant to the 4th Amendment this blogger was told that such notions were subordinate to some amorphous and never-fully-explained (supposedly posted, but this blogger never actually saw them since no one was willing to provide them) “federal regulations”. This blogger does not have any particular issue with federal regulations per se as they are often the legitimate by-product of legitimate law-making, but they never can contravene Constitutional law as Constitutional law and the protections of the Bill of Rights can only act to override the provisions of federal regulation; and only then, when certain regulations offend the rightful liberties of the American People.

With respect to the this blogger’s opinion regarding his recent “enhanced pat-down” it can only be said that whatever my “enhanced pat-down” was, it certainly did not feel like the legitimate operation of a supreme government. Therefore, I shall look toward remedies for this issue and the most effective remedies appear to be awaiting at either the ballot box or perhaps one day upon the desk of the Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. With respect to the Several States it should be noted that some such as Texas and Michigan may be discussing the the promulgation of State law with respect to involuntary touching at relevant airports. How State legislation of this variety would impact American jurisprudence especially in light of notions such as the Erie Doctrine remains to be seen, but it may merely remain an interesting point to speculate upon.

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

– Benjamin Walter Hart

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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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28th June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that a United States Senator introduced legislation designed to engage the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). In order to provide further information regarding these developments it may be best to quote directly from the official website of The Nation, NationMultimedia.com:

United States Senator Richard G. Lugar, the Republican Leader of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today introduced legislation encouraging United States officials to initiate Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations between the U.S. and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which presently accounts for the fourth largest export market of the United States. ”I am continuing my efforts to encourage the Obama Administration to announce a comprehensive and long-term strategy toward engaging ASEAN in FTA discussions,” Lugar said…

This blogger strongly encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to learn more on this story.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the ASEAN community is likely to become more economically important in an international context as time passes. Clearly, Senator Richard Lugar’s proposed legislation will have a significant impact upon the trade relations between the United States of America and the countries which make up ASEAN (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam). Assuming appropriate circumstances, it could be surmised that the United States and the ASEAN community could share a strong trade relationship notwithstanding the growing trade between the United States and countries of the so-called BRICS grouping which includes nations such as India and China. Hopefully the business relationship between the US and ASEAN continues to thrive as these issues are discussed among relevant legislators.

In other matters pertaining to the United States Senate, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that this legislative body was also the forum in which a new UAFA-inclusive piece of immigration legislation was introduced. To provide further insight into these events it may be prudent to quote directly from the website Care2.com:

U.S. Senators introduced Wednesday the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011 which includes the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), legislation allowing U.S. nationals to sponsor their foreign-born same-sex partners for citizenship. The bill, introduced by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) alongside Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), John Kerry (D-MA), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), has a UAFA-inclusive counterpart measure in the House as introduced by Representative Mike Honda (D-CA). LGBT groups including the Immigration Equality Action Fund praised the reintroduction of the legislation…

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

As the struggle for LGBT equality continues, legislation such as that noted above could have a significant positive impact upon the LGBT community. Importantly, the inclusion of language similar to the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), a stand alone piece of legislation originally introduced by Representative Jerrold Nadler in the House of Representatives, would permit same sex bi-national couples to petition for American family immigration benefits similar to those routinely granted to different sex bi-national couples. Currently, the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) preclude such benefits from same sex couples even if a couple has entered into a same sex marriage in one of the sovereign American States that legalize and/or solemnize such unions. Hopefully this proposed legislation can gain traction and thereby end the current discrimination imposed upon same sex couples.

For related information please see: US Company Registration or Legal.

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8th March 2011

In what could possibly be one of the most convoluted political and legal issues currently in the American zeitgeist it has been reported by various sources that President Barack Obama is under pressure from many different groups regarding his recent decision not to enforce key provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). To quote directly from an article posted on AfricaOnline.com:

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich suggested last week that President Obama overstepped his constitutional bounds when he announced he would no longer defend Defense of Marriage Act in court.

In matters pertaining to United States Constitutional law the lines between the political and legal spheres begin to blur and for this reason the issues surrounding what may be the most interesting legal situation in recent history are difficult to sort out for those who have not kept up with the evolving posture of this issue. To provide a brief summation: the United States Federal government is currently barred from recognizing marriages between same-sex couples pursuant to the provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Meanwhile, 7 jurisdictions in the United States, including 6 sovereign States, currently license same sex unions. Meanwhile, many sovereign American States have promulgated State Constitutional amendments forbidding recognition of marriage between same sex couples. Currently, there is a case that has been adjudicated by the Massachusetts Federal District Court which found that States have a fundamental right to marry those within their jurisdiction. Amongst advocates of States’ Rights, the significant issue in the DOMA cases is: FEDERAL recognition of same sex marriages legalized and solemnized within the States’ jurisdiction. To continue quoting Mr. Gingrich according to AfricaOnline.com:

“Imagine that Governor Palin had become president,” Gingrich said. “Imagine that she had announced that Roe versus Wade in her view was unconstitutional and therefore the United States government would no longer protect anyone’s right to have an abortion because she personally had decided it should be changed. The news media would have gone crazy. The New York Times would have demanded her impeachment.”

For those unfamiliar with the Roe versus Wade decision, this was the Supreme Court case which allowed women to receive abortions based upon an interpretation of the US Constitution. It is interesting that Mr. Gingrich noted the lack of “Mainstream Media” attention to this issue as there are those who could argue that the issue of equal rights for the LGBT community is an issue often overlooked by major media outlets. Clearly, the issue of same sex marriage is provoking strong reaction from various sectors of the American political spectrum, to quote directly from the website ThinkProgress.org:

Now, in the right’s furor over the administration’s announcement that it will not defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) is calling for Obama to be impeached.

After the Arizona Republican advocated defunding the Department of Justice if it does not defend Section 3 of DOMA – “I would support that in a moment,” remarked Franks – he went on to say that he would “absolutely” favor impeaching President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder if such a move “could gain collective support”…

It would appear as though this issue is causing a great deal of political turmoil for Mr. Obama, but what is even more interesting are the underlying issues at stake for both the LGBT community and the sovereign States which comprise the United States of America.

To be clear, this blogger fully believes that the right to marry whomever one chooses to marry is a fundamental inalienable right and equal protection of that right should be accorded to members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community. In this blogger’s personal opinion, if two people wish to consensually enter into a marital union, then their respective genders should not be relevant for purposes of government recognition of that union. However, there is an even stronger argument in favor of requiring Federal recognition of same sex marriage and this argument stems from the fact that 6 states have allowed some form of same sex union (civil union or marriage). Clearly, States have traditionally been vested with the power to solemnize and legalize marriages within their respective jurisdictions and the Federal government should be required to recognize such unions, but the provisions of DOMA preclude such recognition. For example, same sex bi-national couples who have legalized a marriage in, say, Massachusetts cannot be accorded the same immigration benefits as their different-sex counterparts pursuant to the provisions of DOMA. There has been some discussion of legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) which would rectify this problem in the context of United States immigration, but this still leaves a fundamental question unanswered: when did the Federal government get the right to dictate to the States what shall constitute a marriage?

As to the Obama Administration’s decision to not pursue cases in support of the Defense of Marriage Act: the sentiment is laudable, but ultimately this action may not be in the best interests of the LGBT community as such inaction results in fewer, if any, cases or controversies coming before the Supreme Court thereby removing the platform for the Supreme Court to make a broad binding decision regarding the Defense of Marriage Act itself (and possibly the overall issue of same sex marriage in general), the Full Faith and Credit Clause, and the other legal issues, such as discrimination against same sex bi-national couples, which come “part and parcel” with continued enforcement of the Defense of Marriage Act.

It is this blogger’s personal opinion that the United States Supreme Court will find in favor of recognition of same sex marriage, but in what could prove to be a sort of convoluted decision wherein Justices such as Scalia, Thomas, and Roberts find in favor of the right of the States to set policy regarding who can get married within their jurisdiction while the more “liberal” or “civil libertarian” wing of the Court finds in favor of granting same sex couples the right to Federal recognition of a legally solemnized State marriage based more upon a finding that the issue is one of civil rights.

For related information please see: LGBT Visa.

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