Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Reuniting Families Act’

19th July 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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13th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate is poised to hold a hearing to discuss the repeal of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) and a possible replacement piece of legislation referred to as the Respect for Marriage Act. To provide further information on these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the Washington Blade website, WashingtonBlade.com:

The Senate Judiciary Committee has announced that an anticipated hearing on legislative repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act has been set for July 20. According to a notice, the hearing on DOMA repeal legislation, also known as the Respect for Marriage Act, will take place July 20 at 10 a.m. in Room 226 the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Witnesses who will testify will be announced in the coming days. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is co-sponsor of the legislation that would repeal DOMA, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. In the Senate, the legislation is sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)…

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

In the context of American immigration the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) result in a situation where the LGBT community is subject to legal discrimination. For instance, same sex bi-national couples cannot receive the same visa benefits as their different-sex counterparts. Therefore, visas such as the K-1 visa, the CR-1 visa, and the IR-1 visa are not available to those who have a same sex partner or for those couples who have entered into a same sex marriage. This discrimination occurs even where the same sex couple in question has been married in one of the sovereign American States or the District of Columbia where same sex marriages are legalized and/or solemnized. Currently, pending legislation such as the aforementioned Respect for Marriage Act (introduced in the United States House of Representative by Representative Jerrold Nadler, who also introduced the Uniting American Families Act designed to deal specifically with the immigration implications of DOMA) and the Reuniting Families Act (introduced by Representative Mike Honda) would address certain aspects of DOMA. In fact, the Respect for Marriage Act is designed to provide a doctrine of “certainty” whereby those couples married in one of the sovereign American States which recognize such unions can rely upon federal recognition of such unions regardless of their physical location.

In news pertaining to business in China and the United States of America it recently came to this blogger’s attention that China may be poised to import as much as 2 million metric tons of American corn. In order to provide more specifics it is necessary to quote directly from an article written by Tom Polansek and posted to the website of the The Wall Street Journal, WSJ.com:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture raised its estimates for corn exports to China fourfold, another nod to the country’s rising demand in a market under strain. In addition, the amount of the grain used to make ethanol is expected to eclipse its use in animal feed in the U.S. for the first time ever. China is now forecast to import 2 million metric tons of U.S. corn in the next marketing year, which begins on Sept. 1, compared to the previous projection of 500,000 tons…Traders also point to China as the likely buyer behind hundreds of thousands of tons that the USDA lists as going to “unknown destinations.” “The increase in Chinese imports is likely lagging what is really going to happen,” said Joel Karlin, analyst for Western Milling, a producer of animal feed in California. The USDA left its estimates for export to China in the current crop year, which ends Aug. 31, unchanged at 1.5 million metric tons…

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

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for the regulation of American agricultural matters. This agency routinely publishes information related to the state of the American agricultural sector. It would appear that the rising demand from China for American agricultural products is not set to diminish anytime in the immediate future. The Chinese-American trade relationship is often noted for the fact that China exports a large amount of manufactured goods to America, but it seems as though less attention is paid to the amount of agricultural products which America provides to China. One issue on this blogger’s mind is the impact that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) might have upon the demand for American agricultural products. As this regional grouping becomes increasingly geopolitically and economically potent it stands to reason that demand for agricultural products from the ASEAN jurisdictions (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam) may be on the rise. Hopefully any and all of these developments prove to be a boon to America’s farmers and agricultural community.

For information pertaining to same sex marriage recognition please see: Full Faith and Credit Clause.

For information related to American company registration please see: US Company Registration.

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12th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the often venerated alternative media outlet ZeroHedge.com has posted an analysis of issues pertaining to a proposed change to the forms used by those seeking a US Passport. To provide further insight it is necessary  to quote directly from the Zero Hedge website, ZeroHedge.com

In the US, the government now requires all citizens to have a passport in order to pass the border, even when driving into Mexico or Canada. Obtaining a passport, however, is neither free nor guaranteed.  You must apply, pay an ever-increasing fee, and wait for weeks to be approved and receive it. Recently, the State Department quietly proposed a new ‘biographical questionnaire’ in lieu of the traditional passport application. The new form requires you to provide things like:

- names, birth places, and birth dates of your extended family members
– your mother’s place of employment at the time of your birth
– whether or not your mother received pre-natal or post natal care
– the address of your mother’s physician and dates of appointments
– the address of every place you have ever lived in your entire life
– the name and address of every school you have ever attended

Most people would find it impossible to provide such information, yet the form requires that the responses ‘are true and correct’ under penalty of imprisonment. Naturally, the privacy statement on the application also acknowledges that the responses can be shared with other departments in the government, including Homeland Security. If this proposal passes, then US citizens will have a nearly insurmountable hurdle to obtain a passport and be able to leave the country at will…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted prior to this excerpt. Also, it is advisable to click upon the hyperlinks contained within this quotation in order to understand this situation in context.

Each year, many Americans traveling abroad, or those Americans resident abroad, renew their passport at an American Citizen Services section of a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. It has always been this blogger’s opinion that personnel of the Department of State who handle such matters do so in an efficient and courteous manner. Meanwhile, many United States Citizens opt to seek passport renewal in the USA. This blogger has undertaken both endeavors and in each case the officers involved processed the request quickly and with little difficulty. Although it remains to be seen how the proposed questionnaire would actually impact the processing of passport issuance requests one can hope that the process will not become overly cumbersome.

In news pertaining to the struggle for LGBT Equality, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that a woman in the sovereign State of New York is challenging the legal status and Constitutionality of the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). In order to provide the reader with some relevant insight it is necessary to quote directly from an article by Mark Hamblett for the New York Law Journal posted on Law.com:

Challengers to the federal Defense of Marriage Act insist that every justification offered by Congress for defining marriage exclusively as between a man and a woman is contrary to logic and the law. In summary judgment papers filed in the Southern District of New York, lawyers for Edith Schlain Windsor argue that there is no good reason for treating her marriage to the late Thea Clara Spyer any differently than a heterosexual union. Read Ms. Windsor’s motion and memorandum. Ms. Windsor’s lawyers call the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) a radical measure and a clear violation of the right to equal protection of the laws under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “DOMA is a sweeping statute that rewrites over one thousand federal laws and overturns the federal government’s long-standing practice of deferring to state determinations of marital status,” the lawyers claim in a memorandum asking Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV for summary judgment in the case of Windsor v. United States, 10-cv-8435. “Throughout history, the federal government has never married people, leaving that to the states…”

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

Those unfamiliar with the current predicament of the LGBT community should note that in immigration matters same sex bi-national couples, even those who have entered into a same sex marriage in one of the sovereign American States which legalize and/or solemnize such unions, are unable to petition for the same immigration benefits as their different-sex counterparts. In order to attempt to remedy this particular discrepancy Representative Jerrold Nadler recently introduced legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). The Respect for Marriage Act was also introduced by Representative Nadler in order to remedy the issue of “certainty” in such cases. As of the time of this writing, neither of these bills has seen enactment although there has been recent news that the Senate Judiciary Committee may be holding hearings pertaining to the Respect for Marriage Act soon. On a related note, the Reuniting Families Act, which apparently includes UAFA-like language, was lately introduced by Representative Mike Honda although passage of this legislation remains to be seen.

There is certainly an “equal protection” component to any argument against DOMA, but relatively few commentators seem to take note of the fact that the way DOMA is currently enforced may also violate notions of States’ Rights. Generally, matters pertaining to the prerogatives of the Several States are debated by the United States Congress before enactment of legislation which maintains interstate compliance with the provisions of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution. In this case, Congress has arguably abrogated the notion of Full Faith and Credit inherent in the provisions of the Full Faith and Credit Clause since section 3 of DOMA effectively renders the prerogatives of the sovereign States ineffective when it comes to the issue of same sex marriage.

The issues associated with DOMA have yet to be fully resolved, but it seems likely that these matters may remain contentious both inside the Courtrooms of America and elsewhere.

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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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8th July 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4th July 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For related information please see: US Visa Thailand.

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1st July 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For related information please see: US Visa Thailand.

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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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18th June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Governor of the sovereign State of New York, Andrew Cuomo, has proposed a bill which would provide same sex marriage benefits to those within that jurisdiction. To provide further insight on this issue it may be best to quote directly from a posting by Jay Kernis in which lawyer Evan Wolfson of the organization Freedom To Marry was interviewed on the official website of CNN, CNN.com:

On Tuesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo submitted a bill to bring marriage equality to New York State. What does the The Marriage Equality Act permit to happen? If passed by the Republican-controlled Senate and Democrat-controlled Assembly and signed into law by the Governor, the marriage bill will secure for committed same-sex couples the freedom to marry – with the same rules, same responsibilities, and same respect. It will more than double the number of Americans living in a state where gay couples can marry – from 16 million to 35 million.  And it will permit more families to strengthen their love and commitment and ability to care for one another, while taking nothing away from anyone else…

Readers are encouraged to click upon the appropriate hyperlinks noted above to learn more details about these issues.

As frequent readers of this blog may be aware, the issue of same sex marriage is of concern for the LGBT community, especially those same sex bi-national couples who are currently separated pursuant to application of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) which effectively precludes same sex bi-national couples from receiving the same visa benefits as their different sex counterparts. Meanwhile, efforts have been made on behalf of the LGBT community by legislators such as Representative Jerrold Nadler and Representative Mike Honda who have introduced federal legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), the Respect for Marriage Act, and the Reuniting Families Act. As of the time of this writing none of this legislation has seen passage in the United States Congress.

The issue of same sex marriage may also be important in an intraState context as there are many benefits for couples who are married. To quote further from the aforementioned posting:

[M]arriage is a system – it brings clarity, security, and tangible and intangible protections as couples move from state to state, interact with employers or businesses, or deal with the federal government…

Truer words have never been written. The institution of marriage is important as it provides concrete evidence of a given couple’s relationship and also may lead to other types of benefits. This blogger would argue that one of the main benefits of a State licensed same sex marriage is the fact that such a union should be accorded Full Faith and Credit pursuant to the United States Constitution provided that such a union occurs within a State which legalizes and solemnizes such unions. At present, the federal government, through enforcement of DOMA, does not recognize same sex marriages for purposes of according legal benefits, but there are currently two pending lawsuits which arose in the sovereign Commonwealth of Massachusetts and sovereign State of California that could overturn this policy. However, as of the time of this writing, such developments remain to be seen.

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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