Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Same Sex Bi-National Couple’

26th July 2013

It has come to this blogger’s attention that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has issued a new set of answers to frequently asked questions stemming from the recent decision by the United States Supreme Court which overturned Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In previous postings on this blog the fact that lawful permanent residents and American Citizens with same-sex spouses can now file for immigration benefits for their same sex spouse has been discussed at length. That said, USCIS discussed this issue in their recently issued FAQ release, to quote directly from the USCIS website:

Q1: I am a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in a same-sex marriage to a foreign national. Can I now sponsor my spouse for a family-based immigrant visa?
A1: Yes, you can file the petition. You may file a Form I-130 (and any applicable accompanying application). Your eligibility to petition for your spouse, and your spouse’s admissibility as an immigrant at the immigration visa application or adjustment of status stage, will be determined according to applicable immigration law and will not be automatically denied as a result of the same-sex nature of your marriage. [italics added]

As previously pointed out on this blog, the ability of American Citizens to file for immigration benefits for a same-sex foreign spouse is a fairly clear cut result of the recent Supreme Court decision finding Section 3 of DOMA unConstituional. It should be noted that the USCIS seems to also imply that a K3 visa would also now be a possibility for same sex couples as it could be construed to be an “applicable accompanying application”. However, an issue that was not so clearly dealt with by the Supreme Court’s decision pertains to the K-1 visa (US fiance visa). As Fiance visas are, by  definition, not based upon a marriage, but an intended marriage; further clarification from USCIS on these types of visas post-DOMA is considered by some to be quite helpful. To quote further from the aforementioned USCIS FAQ section:

Q2. I am a U.S. citizen who is engaged to be married to a foreign national of the same sex.  Can I file a fiancé or fiancée petition for him or her?
A2. Yes.  You may file a Form I-129F.  As long as all other immigration requirements are met, a same-sex engagement may allow your fiancé to enter the United States for marriage. [italics added]

This clarification from USCIS regarding the fiance visa in the context of same sex marriage, while helpful, is slightly qualified by the next section of the same FAQ page:

Q3: My spouse and I were married in a U.S. state that recognizes same-sex marriage, but we live in a state that does not. Can I file an immigrant visa petition for my spouse?
A3: Yes, you can file the petition. In evaluating the petition, as a general matter, USCIS looks to the law of the place where the marriage took place when determining whether it is valid for immigration law purposes. That general rule is subject to some limited exceptions under which federal immigration agencies historically have considered the law of the state of residence in addition to the law of the state of celebration of the marriage. Whether those exceptions apply may depend on individual, fact-specific circumstances. If necessary, we may provide further guidance on this question going forward. [italics added]

Clearly, the US fiance visa is now a viable option for same sex couples with a bona fide intention to marry in those jurisdictions of the United States which recognize same sex marriage. Since the jurisdiction of the celebration of the intended marriage is USCIS’s primary concern it would appear that a K1 visa itself will be a possibility for same sex couples in the future. However, it would appear that some ancillary immigration benefits may or may not be available at this time for some same sex bi-national couples depending upon the unique residency circumstances of those couples.

Of further interest to some same sex couples will likely be the fact that there are benefits for the foreign same sex spouse of an American Citizen with respect to naturalization:

Q8. Can same-sex marriages, like opposite-sex marriages, reduce the residence period required for naturalization?
A8. Yes.  As a general matter, naturalization requires five years of residence in the United States following admission as a lawful permanent resident.  But, according to the immigration laws, naturalization is available after a required residence period of three years, if during that three year period you have been living in “marital union” with a U.S. citizen “spouse” and your spouse has been a United States citizen.  For this purpose, same-sex marriages will be treated exactly the same as opposite-sex marriages. [italics added]

Therefore, the same sex spouse of an American Citizen will be treated the same way as the opposite sex spouse of an American for purposes of obtaining US Citizenship based upon the couple’s marriage and lawful permanent residence obtained thereby. Finally, of further note in this recently issued USCIS FAQ page relates to the I-601 waiver process:

Q9. I know that the immigration laws allow discretionary waivers of certain inadmissibility grounds under certain circumstances.  For some of those waivers, the person has to be the “spouse” or other family member of a U.S. citizen or of a lawful permanent resident.  In cases where the required family relationship depends on whether the individual or the individual’s parents meet the definition of “spouse,” will same-sex marriages count for that purpose?
A9.Yes.   Whenever the immigration laws condition eligibility for a waiver on the existence of a “marriage” or status as a “spouse,” same-sex marriages will be treated exactly the same as opposite-sex marriages. [italics added]

Waivers of inadmissibility can be difficult to obtain under certain circumstances as they are, by definition, a discretionary waiver. However, one major hurdle for many same-sex bi-national couples in the US immigration sphere has been cast aside by the comendable decision of the United States Supreme Court. USCIS deserves comendation as well for their efforts to quickly and decisively implement policies which bring immigration regulations in line with changes in the law.

Readers are encouraged to read the USCIS website and the FAQ section quoted above to find out further details regarding immigration regulations pertaining to same sex couples.

For related information please see: US Visa Thailand.

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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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14th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that United States President Barack Obama is apparently set to attend an upcoming ASEAN summit in Bali, Indonesia. In order to provide further information regarding such developments it is necessary to quote directly from the Jakarta Updates website, JakartaUpdates.com:

United States President Barack Obama is scheduled to attend the ASEAN Summit in Bali in September 2011. Obama’s arrival is hoped to bring a positive image for Bali and Indonesia in general in particular after the 2002 Bali bombing. “The arrival of President Obama is hoped to foster the trust of the international community regarding the security aspects of Indonesia and especially Bali’s readiness to hold a world-class event,” said a member of Commission IV DPRD Bali, Tjokorda Raka Kerthyasa, in Denpasar, on Tuesday (12/07/2011). According to Kerthyasa, this visit will have a very positive impact not only great for tourism in Bali, but also for Indonesia. That will mean Indonesian security has been acknowledged and Bali is considered a very special place…

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

This news comes upon the heels of a recent trip by the Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff to China. Clearly, both of these developments illustrate the increasing importance of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) jurisdictions (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam) and China. These events are also a testament to the increasing global economic dominance of Asia in general. Hopefully the discussions held at this upcoming summit will result in tangible benefits for the American people and the people of those nations which are members of ASEAN.

In news pertaining to the struggle for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) Equality it recently came to this blogger’s attention that a highly respected advocacy organization for the cause of LGBT Equality recently submitted a brief to a New York Court in support of the rights of a same sex bi-national couple. To provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from a press release posted upon the official website of Lambda Legal, LambdaLegal.org:

(New York, July 12, 2011) – Yesterday, Lambda Legal filed an amicus brief in a case involving Cristina Ojeda and Monica Alcota, a married binational lesbian couple from Queens, New York. The friend-of-the-court brief argues that immigration officials are incorrectly relying on an inapplicable case for authority to continue deportation proceedings while the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is being challenged…In the brief filed yesterday, Lambda Legal argues that USCIS cannot insulate itself from legal and political developments surrounding both DOMA and a 1982 case, Adams v. Howerton. Adams has been superseded by intervening legal and legislative developments including the emergence of jurisdictions where marriage or civil unions of same-sex couples are recognized, and ongoing federal court cases challenging the constitutionality of DOMA. Finally, since the law surrounding DOMA is developing, the brief urges immigration officials to administratively close or postpone all pending immigration matters involving married same-sex couples until DOMA is repealed or declared unconstitutional. Absent DOMA, there is no legal impediment to extending immigration protections to Ms. Alcota and spouses in similarly-situated same-sex couples…

The administration of this web log adamantly encourages those interested to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read about these developments. As a practical matter, “administrative closure” has been used in the past with respect to the K-3 visa (a United States travel document somewhat akin to the K-1 visa although designed for the foreign spouse of an American Citizen) where the underlying I-130 (the petition form for a CR-1 visa or an IR-1 visa) sees adjudication and arrival at the National Visa Center prior to, or contemporaneously with, the I-129f petition package. Therefore, usage of administrative closing in an immigration context is not altogether unheard of. That said, whether such a mechanism will ultimately be utilized under these circumstances remains to be seen.

As noted previously on this blog, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) did attempt to place a hold upon deportations involving same sex bi-national couples. However, that hold was apparently rescinded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) citing the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) as a valid reason for such action. Thereafter, it was noted that the Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder, vacated a finding for deportation in a case before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) involving a couple who had entered into a same sex civil union in the sovereign State of  New Jersey. It was recently noted that United States Bankruptcy Courts appear poised to begin adjudicating bankruptcy petitions from same sex couples. All of these developments have occurred contemporaneously with news that the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate is preparing to hold hearings regarding the possible repeal of DOMA and the ramifications of adopting legislation such as the Respect for Marriage Act. The Respect for Marriage Act would hopefully provide federal recognition of a same sex marriage legalized and/or solemnized by an American State which permits such unions.

Strictly within the context of American immigration it should be noted that Representative Jerrold Nadler has introduced legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) in order to remedy the current legal discrimination imposed upon the LGBT community. Furthermore, it would appear that Representative Mike Honda‘s Reuniting Families Act includes UAFA-like language which would attempt to correct the current inequities borne by same-sex bi-national couples.

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

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9th July 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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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15th June 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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13th June 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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28th May 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For related information please see: Legal.

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18th May 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that some have been discussing tactics underlying the overall political strategy pertaining to passage of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), a recently introduced piece of legislation by Representative Jerrold Nadler designed essentially to circumvent the current prohibition of Federal recognition for same sex marriages. Such marital unions are currently legalized and/or solemnized by multiple sovereign American States as well as the District of Columbia. To quote directly from the article No Republicans, No News posted on the website UnitingAmericanFamilies.Net:

The UAFA-related blogosphere is alive with reports of the bill being re-introduced into Congress. This will seem like a wet blanket, but my jaded response is… so what? The bill (and its predecessor) has been introduced into every subsequent Congress since the year 2000, and it has never come close to passing.

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers click upon the hyperlinks above to read more from the enlightening piece.

Of especial interest to this blogger was the analysis of the current political predicament facing proponents of UAFA or a bill, such as the Reuniting Families Act, which utilizes UAFA-like language. To quote further from the aforementioned article:

It’s no longer the Dems who need to be convinced. We will NOT get our basic human rights until we start to convince Republicans — whether right-wing, Tea-Party, or “moderate” (if such a thing still exists). It’s a simple game of numbers.

This is an insightful notion as it is so acutely correct. The way for the LGBT Community, same sex bi-national couples, and anyone else who is a victim of government discrimination based upon sexual orientation to effect change is through gaining broad based, possibly bi-partisan, support (under the circumstances the word “bi-partisan” simply does not seem accurate as this truly is an issue of personal liberty and not party ideology). Importantly, supporters of UAFA and bills similar to UAFA have one relatively new political “arrow” in their “quivers” and that arrow is States’ Rights. The 10th Amendment of the United States Constitution reserves certain rights to the Several Sovereign States. Marriage, and the licensure thereof, has traditionally been viewed as a purely intraState matter. Therefore, when the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) came into conflict with State policies such as those currently maintained by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts issues surrounding the 10th Amendment came to the foreground of the debate.

The fate of DOMA, UAFA, the Reuniting Families Act, and the Respect for Marriage Act remains to be seen, but one thing is clear, at least in this blogger’s personal opinion: the issue of same sex marriage may become one of those issues that, in politics, is truly a “game changer”.

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

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