Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘same-sex partnership’

10th August 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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30th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that representatives from the jurisdictions which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are set to meet in September. Further, the Philippine DFA has apparently commented upon these developments. To provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the website ABS-CBNNews.com:

MANILA, Philippines – A team of maritime legal experts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is scheduled to meet in Manila in September to begin talks on maritime territorial issues, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Friday. This is part of the preventive diplomacy approach wherein ASEAN experts will determine disputed from non-disputed waters, DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said. “The experts will give a concept paper to determine the zone of peace and cooperation and let them discuss it, assess and hopefully support it. We will present it to the ASEAN and hopefully China will hear it,” he added…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to learn more from this insightful article.

There are many who have speculated that the ASEAN region could one day see a single visa system similar to the Schengen system utilized in certain countries of Europe. However, this development remains to be seen. Meanwhile, discussions regarding the tensions which have recently arisen with respect to the South China Sea area have sort of been “tabled” until the upcoming meeting in Manila. Hopefully, this situation evolves into something that is beneficial for all of the ASEAN countries and the Greater Asian region as a whole.

In news pertaining to the continuing struggle for LGBT Equality it recently came to this blogger’s attention that a venerated publication has noted recent shifts in American attitude regarding same sex marriage. To quote directly from the official website of The Economist magazine, Economist.com

[W]hen National Journal polled political “insiders” this month, it found a majority of Democratic politicos, lobbyists and strategists in favour of making gay marriage legal. No less telling, a majority of their Republican counterparts, while continuing to oppose gay marriage, thought their party should just ignore the issue. That might make electoral sense. Since it is the young who are most relaxed about gay marriage, standing in its path might cost the Republicans dear in the future. The notion of denying gays the spousal rights available to others makes little sense to a generation that sees marriage at least as much as a union of soul-mates as a formal structure for child-rearing…That may be why Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York who ran for the presidency in 2008 and may yet do so again, has warned fellow Republicans to “get the heck out of people’s bedrooms”…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read further from this insightful article by Lexington.

Frequent readers of this blog may have noted that the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA) noted above was introduced in the United States House of Representatives by Representative Jerrold Nadler. Representative Nadler is also the sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) which, if enacted, would remedy the current discrimination faced by same sex bi-national couples who cannot receive visa benefits such as the CR-1 visa, the IR-1 visa, or the K-1 visa in the same manner as their different-sex counterparts notwithstanding that they may have a valid State licensed same sex marriage.

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

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29th July 2011

Notwithstanding the fact that the American federal government currently finds itself in gridlock due to issues such as the debate over the raising of the debt ceiling and other issues pertaining to the national deficit there appears to be one issue that seems to be continually overlooked by members of both parties in the United States Congress. That issue is: federal recognition of State licensed same sex marriage. Regardless of the provisions in the United States Constitution regarding Full Faith and Credit as elucidated in the language of the Full Faith and Credit Clause, the third section of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” precludes federal recognition of same sex marriage even in situations where such unions are legalized and/or solemnized in one of the American State jurisdictions which license such marital unions.

In the interests of full disclosure, this blogger originates from the Great State of Kansas and that State has opted to pass a ban upon same sex marriage as a State Constitutional amendment. This blogger disagreed with the promulgation of that amendment at the time because he has always believed that the States have no right to legislate as to We The People‘s natural rights and prerogatives. That stated, where State legislation augments personal liberty and is not preempted expressly by the enumerated powers of the federal Constitution, such legislation should be accorded Full Faith and Credit pursuant to the United States Constitution not to mention pursuant to the law of the land in the United States of America.

Bearing the above in mind, the issue of same sex marriage and federal recognition thereof is a thorny one since there are those States which expressly ban such unions while concurrently there are those which expressly permit such unions. Therefore, there could be a situation where a same sex marriage is performed and thereby legalized in one State and thereafter the couple cannot be divorced in another State jurisdiction as said jurisdiction does not permit such unions pursuant to State public policy. The courts in the non-recognizing State may be required to recognize that a same sex marriage in another jurisdiction exists in fact, but may not allow the same sex couple to receive a divorce. For more on these concepts it is prudent to review the previous blog posting regarding the concept of vertical vs. horizontal Full Faith and Credit.

Bearing all of the above in mind, it is this blogger’s opinion that the issue of same sex marriage recognition, at least at the federal level, is a virtually non-partisan issue since it touches upon basic human rights as well as those notions inherent to the concept of States’ Rights. As a result, politicians should not have a “tough sell” on this issue with respect to their constituents as Republican legislators can note that support of legislation such as Representative Jerrold Nadler‘s Respect For Marriage Act is supportive of reserved State prerogatives. Meanwhile, Democrats can note that support for repeal of DOMA is in the interests of human rights, civil rights, and Equal Protection.

It remains to be seen how these concepts will come to evolve as the legislative session continues, but it is clear that this issue dovetails many key concepts that Americans associate with personal freedom and Constitutional law.

– Benjamin Walter Hart

For further information regarding federal recognition of same sex marriage please see: Certainty.

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

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6th May 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention, via the website MetroWeekly.com, that the Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder, has vacated a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals which applied controversial section 3 of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) in a recent case. To quote directly from a PDF copy of AG Holder’s order as posted to the aforementioned website:

Pursuant to my authority set forth in 8 C.F.R. § 1003.1(h)(1)(i), I order that the decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals (“Board”) in this case applying Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), 1 U.S.C. § 7, be vacated, and that this matter be referred to me for review.

In the exercise of my review authority under that regulation, and upon consideration of the record in this case, I direct that the order of the Board be vacated and that this matter be remanded to the Board to make such findings as may be necessary to determine whether and how the constitutionality of DOMA is presented in this case, including, but not limited to: 1) whether respondent’s same-sex partnership or civil union qualifies him to be considered a “spouse” under New Jersey law; 2) whether, absent the requirements of DOMA, respondent’s same-sex partnership or civil union would qualify him to be considered a “spouse” under the Immigration and Nationality Act; 3) what, if any, impact the timing of respondent’s civil union should have on his request for that discretionary relief; and 4) whether, if he had a “qualifying relative,” the respondent would be able to satisfy the exceptional and unusual hardship requirement for cancellation of removal.

Those reading this posting are encouraged to read the article on Metroweekly.com posted by Chris Geidner regarding these issues as this blogger found that posting to be very insightful.

For those who are not familiar with this issue it should be noted that the current provisions of DOMA preclude accordance of federal benefits to those who have entered into a same sex relationship. This preclusion even overrides State prerogatives regarding marriage as, in an immigration context, the language of DOMA precludes recognition of even a same sex marriage solemnized and/or legalized in a sovereign American State. Currently, there is some legislation, such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) or the Respect for Marriage Act, pending before the American Federal legislature which would seek to remove the current restrictions being imposed upon the LGBT community.

It remains to be seen whether same sex visa benefits will be accorded the same sex partners engaged in a bi-national relationship, but one thing is clear: there is momentum gathering behind the cause of LGBT equal rights as American authorities would seem to be taking notice of the legitimate grievances of those who have, for too long, been denied their rights to equal protection under the law. Meanwhile, this blogger finds it likely that there will eventually be some sort of decision regarding the accordance of Full Faith and Credit to those legal marriages solemnized and/or legalized by those States which currently license such unions. As of the time of this writing, however, such remedies remain to be seen and the assurances that they will manifest themselves sometime in the future is likely cold comfort to those who are separated from their loved ones now.

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

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