Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘US Constitution’

22nd August 2011

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

Quoted Directly From Wikipedia, Wikipedia.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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24th April 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that a screener for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been arrested in connection to charges stemming from child pornography. To quote directly from Philly.com:

A passenger screener at Philadelphia International Airport is facing charges that he distributed more than 100 images of child pornography via Facebook, records show.

Federal agents also allege that Transportation Safety Administration Officer Thomas Gordon Jr. of Philadelphia, who routinely searched airline passengers, uploaded explicit pictures of young girls to an Internet site on which he also posted a photograph of himself in his TSA uniform.

The administration of this web log highly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks above to read further from this story in order to gain perspective.

This arrest comes amidst calls from State and Federal legislators to reign in the activities of Transportation Security Administration personnel as such activities are coming to be increasingly viewed by many as arbitrary, capricious, and quite possibly in violation of Constitutional protections designed to protect the inalienable rights of United States Citizens. To quote directly from myfoxdfw.com

DALLAS – Full body pat-downs at airports are under heavy scrutiny in Austin. Representative David Simpson of Longview is sponsoring a bill that would make it illegal for Transpiration Security Administration agents to enforce full body searches without justification. The agent conducting the enhanced pat-down could face a felony charge and jail time. “We’ve got a draw a line somewhere,” Simpson said. “We’ve got young children, autistic children, seperated from their mother saying, ‘Stranger danger! Stranger danger!’ Man, oh boy. We’re teaching our children it’s indecent. It’s wrong to let these people in these areas except for a doctor.”

The administration of this blog asks readers to click upon the links above to view this story in further detail.

Texas is not the only sovereign American State to question the methodology of the Transportation Security Administration as this blog previously reported that some New Hampshire State legislators are attempting to take measures to curtail the TSA’s activities. An update on that story can be found by quoting directly from the website WHDH.com:

MANCHESTER, N.H. — A new proposal in New Hampshire would make some controversial TSA security exams a crime. The bill, which is clearly aimed at the Transportation Security Administration, would make an invasive pat down at the airport felony sexual assault unless the screener has probable cause to do the search. “We’re telling the TSA, if they violate our laws and they sexually assault our citizens, we’re going to do something about it,” said Rep. George Lambert, legislation co-sponsor.

In the recent past it appeared as though only State legislators were scrutinizing this issue intensely, but it recently came to this blogger’s attention that State legislators have been joined by a Federal legislator in calling for a rollback of what are perceived to be invasive and questionably Constitutional tactics currently employed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). To quote directly from Townhall.com:

In the latest battle of David vs. Goliath, Rep. Jason Chaffetz is taking on the TSA again, this time against the backdrop of a revolting video showing a TSA pat-down of a 6-year-old girl. Chaffetz has introduced a bill that would call for parental consent before minors are subjected to pat-downs at airport security. A parent would also be allowed to be present for the pat-downs. According to Utah’s Daily Herald, Chaffetz’s 15 year old daughter was forced to undergo a private pat-down without parents present. The bill, just introduced, does not specify what would happen if a parent refuses consent for a pat-down of a minor. Chaffetz has challenged the TSA several times on invasive and unproven security procedures like the full body scan machines and the detailed pat-downs, but TSA continues to be inconsistent in their policy implementations. Back in November, the agency said that there would be modified pat-downs for children under 12, since there was no intelligence — even internationally — that children that age were being used in terrorist attacks. However, the video circulating the internet shows no body areas of the 6-year-old girl were off limits in the frisking.

Those reading this blog are encouraged to click on the hyperlinks above to view this story in detail.

Readers interested in seeing the video of the groping of the 6 year old child alluded to above are encouraged to click HERE.

In light of all of the events and issues noted above this blogger would ask the reader to take the time to read the following:

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

How are “random” searches reasonable? Under the specific facts seen in the video above, how is it reasonable to assume that it is okay to grope a six year old child without probable cause? Where is the rule of law? Meanwhile, are any of these searches occurring pursuant to a warrant based upon probable cause and supported by an oath or affirmation? If not, then under what authority are these searches occurring?

In response to the incident involving the child the TSA web log noted:

A video taken of one of our officers patting down a six year-old has attracted quite a bit of attention. Some folks are asking if the proper procedures were followed. Yes. TSA has reviewed the incident and the security officer in the video followed the current standard operating procedures.

This blogger cares very little for the justifications being posed by the TSA on this point as they are simply naked assertions which are not based upon anything other than the TSA’s unilateral opinion. Under the United States legal system the “current standard operating procedures” are always to be in compliance with the 4th Amendment, especially if a search concerns an American Citizen. If they are not in compliance with the 4th Amendment and the US Constitution, then such procedures are, in this blogger’s opinion: unlawful. Hopefully TSA will rectify their behavior as it seems likely that further tensions could arise as State and Federal legislatures along with local authorities take it upon themselves to protect the civil liberties of their Citizenry and constituents. It is hoped that these issues will be resolved to the benefit of all concerned, but clearly issues surrounding American Citizens’ right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure must be dealt with in order to uphold the American Peoples’ Constitutional protections.

For related information please see: Necessary and Proper Clause.

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2nd April 2011

This blogger has been an avid follower of American politics since childhood and as a birthday present to himself this blogger will be following the 2012 election in an effort to contribute some worthwhile commentary on the unfolding campaign and the possible ramifications for Thailand, ASEAN, and Greater Asia. To quote directly from a recent posting on the New York Times official website nytimes.com:

The 2012 presidential campaign is finally getting underway, in fits and starts.

But the election season really arrives on May 2, when the Republican candidates gather in Simi Valley, Calif., for a televised debate at the library of their collective hero, Ronald Reagan.

Or, maybe they won’t.

The article cited above went on to note the fact that very few prospective Republican challengers have come forward at this point to “throw their hat in the ring” regarding a run for the United States presidency. Apparently, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has taken appropriate legal measures to fully explore the option of campaigning for the presidency, to quote further from the aforementioned article on the New York Times website:

[T]he April 15 fund-raising reports this year are likely to show almost no official campaign fund-raising, with the exception of Newt Gingrich, who announced the formation of an I.R.S. committee that allows him to start collecting money for a potential campaign.

Readers of this blog may recall that Mr. Gingrich recently made some news when questioning President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder regarding the administration’s position on the issue of enforcement of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). However, it would appear that unlike this blogger, Mr. Gingrich takes exception with Mr. Obama’s position on DOMA not because he is in favor of Americans being able to solemnize a same sex marriage, but because he feels that the Administration’s position on this issue is not in compliance with the United States Constitution as the US President is required to enforce American law.

The most interesting thing that this blogger found noticeable in the above cited article (and this blogger highly encourages readers to click on the links above to read this article in its entirety to gain some perspective on what is shaping up to be an important presidential campaign) was the fact that it made no mention of Representative Ron Paul. Although Dr. Paul has yet to announce his candidacy for the Presidency, and he may not do so, he did win the CPAC straw poll two years running. This accomplishment should not be overlooked as it was a similar victory which saw Mr. Reagan get catapulted to the front of the race for the US Presidency some 30 years ago.

On the American left President Obama is, naturally, the likely choice for the Democratic nomination, but even that should not be viewed as a foregone conclusion especially in light of the fact that some within the Democratic Party have called for a primary challenge against Mr. Obama. To quote directly from a posting on February 2, 2011 from the website Politifi.com:

WASHINGTON – Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) said Thursday that President Barack Obama “absolutely” ought to face a Democratic primary challenge from the left in 2012, predicting it would make him “stronger.” “I think primaries can have the opportunity of raising the issues and make the Democratic Candidate a stronger Candidate,” Kucinich told CSPAN’s Washington Journal.

Some commentators took Mr. Kucinich to mean that he was interested in running for the Presidency as a Democrat, but it would appear, at least for now, that this is not the case. However, the mere fact that the notion has been put forth introduces the possibility that Mr. Obama could face a primary challenge from within his own Party. How he would fare in such circumstances remains to be seen, but this blogger would not rule out the notion of a Democratic challenger while bearing in mind that Mr. Obama is a strong campaigner who would be a formidable opponent, especially in a Democratic primary.

For related information please see: Patriot Act Extension.

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11th March 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Department of Homeland Security has issued a final rule regarding the implementation of the REAL ID Act of 2005. To quote directly from the official website of the Department of Homeland Security:

The Department of Homeland Security has issued a final rule to establish minimum standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards in accordance with the REAL ID Act of 2005.

These regulations set standards for states to meet the requirements of the REAL ID Act, including:

  • information and security features that must be incorporated into each card;
  • proof of identity and lawful status of an applicant;
  • verification of the source documents provided by an applicant; and
  • security standards for the offices that issue licenses and identification cards.

This final rule also provides a process for states to seek an additional extension of the compliance deadline to May 11, 2011, by demonstrating material compliance with the core requirements of the Act and this rule.

For those who are unfamiliar with the REAL ID Act, this piece of legislation greatly altered the dynamics of identity documentation in the United States. As usual, Wikipedia concisely describes some of the implications of the REAL ID Act in the context of State driving licenses, to quote directly from Wikipedia:

After 2011, “a Federal agency may not accept, for any official purpose, a driver’s license or identification card issued by a state to any person unless the state is meeting the requirements” specified in the REAL ID Act. States remain free to also issue non-complying licenses and IDs, so long as these have a unique design and a clear statement that they cannot be accepted for any Federal identification purpose. The federal Transportation Security Administration is responsible for security check-in at airports, so bearers of non-compliant documents would no longer be able to travel on common carrier aircraft without additional screening unless they had an alternative government-issued photo ID.[16]

Clearly, advocates of a limited Federal government may take some exception with some of the notions outlined above. There are some who have voiced concerns regarding the Federal government’s role in the context of the REAL ID Act as advocates in favor of civil liberties and privacy rights have mentioned some of the more eerie implications of the REAL ID Act. States Rights proponents and Constitutional scholars have also raised interesting issues in discussions regarding the REAL ID Act. Some even speculate as to the scope of an agency such as DHS when examining programs such as the implementation of the REAL ID Act in conjunction with technology such as the Iris scanners and DNA screeners previously mentioned on this blog. Notwithstanding controversy, the REAL ID Act and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) seem to be increasingly ubiquitous issues in the dual pantheons of both the so-called “Alternative Media” as well as the “Mainstream Media“.

As the role of the DHS and the TSA becomes more defined it seems likely that new and interesting legal, social, and political issues will will arise as a result.

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7th February 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that a State Judge in a Nebraska Court appears to have been unwilling to grant a divorce to a same-sex married couple on the grounds that the State of Nebraska does not recognize the existence of the underlying marriage. It would appear as though the parties in question were originally married in Vermont (a State which recognizes and solemnizes marriages between individuals of the same gender), but wished to have their marriage dissolved in Nebraska (a State which does not solemnize nor recognize same sex marriage). To quote directly from a posting on WCAX.com, a website dedicated to providing news pertaining to Vermont:

According to Judge Randall Rehmeier, the state can’t dissolve their marriage because gay marriage isn’t recognized by the Nebraska Constitution. That means their marriage doesn’t exist in the state’s eyes.

The administration of this blog highly recommends readers go to the website noted above to read the full posting. The Judge’s reasoning may go to the heart of the overall conundrum that arises from what some would consider to be the uncertain nature of the current legal status of same sex marriages in the United States. As noted previously on this blog, within the USA there are currently 5 sovereign American  States that recognize and perform same sex marriages. Meanwhile, there are many other States and jurisdictions which do not recognize such marital relationships. Furthermore, there are even some American States which have State constitutional amendments banning same sex marriage or defining marriage as exclusively to mean a marital union between two people of differing gender. Concurrently, the United States Federal Government does not recognize same sex marriages pursuant to the language of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). Under the provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act the Federal government is legally barred from recognizing marriages between two people of the same gender. This is a significant issue in the area of United States Immigration law as same sex bi-national couples are unable to obtain the same family based visa benefits as different-sex bi-national couples, regardless of the fact that the couple may have been lawfully married in one of the American States which recognizes same sex marriage.

In the midst of all of these conflicting policies and laws there are currently cases pending in the United States Federal Courts which address the issues associated with same sex marriage and government recognition thereof. At the time of this writing, Federal District Courts in Massachusetts and California have ruled that Federal failure to recognize State sanctioned same sex marriage is unconstitutional. However, those decisions have been stayed pending appeal. Those appeals could very possibly go all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

At the time of this writing, the issue of same sex marriage is far from settled, but one thing is clear: it is unlikely that a solution will be easy to find. It is this blogger’s opinion that the issues associated with same sex marriage touch most particularly upon legal notions inherent in the Constitutional doctrine of Full Faith and Credit pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Clause. However, analysis under the Full Faith and Credit Clause may not lead to uniform State acceptance of same sex marriage. In this blogger’s opinion, the Defense of Marriage Act was rendered unconstitutional the moment that a sovereign American State began recognizing and performing marriages for people of the same sex. This opinion is based upon the belief that the right to solemnize marriages between parties within the jurisdiction of a given State is a right reserved to said State under the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Under certain circumstances, States have cited their power to promote “public health and safety” as a basis for issuing marriage licenses.

In this blogger’s opinion, if a State has duly legalized a same sex marriage within their jurisdiction pursuant to the laws and procedures of said State, then the Federal government must recognize that marriage pursuant to what this blogger would describe as Vertical Full Faith and Credit (i.e. Federal recognition of certain State prerogatives regarding intrastate matters pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Clause). However, the law dealing with what this blogger would describe as Horizontal Full Faith and Credit (State to State recognition of State adjudicated matters) can be opaque especially with regard to issues which one state has deemed to be in violation of State public policy. If a sovereign American State has a Constitutional Amendment which specifically defines marriage as a marital union between a man and a woman, then there is a strong argument in favor of denying divorces to same sex couples within that State since it would violate State public policy to recognize the existence of the marriage in order to dissolve it.

As more and more same sex couples legalize marriages in the United States, it stands to reason that more such couples may one day seek divorce. The issues associated with Full Faith and Credit and LGBT rights have yet to be fully resolved, but it seems likely that this issue will remain controversial both from a political perspective as well as a legal perspective.

Those reading this posting should take note of the fact that there are myriad legal and political opinions on this subject and until such time as a binding decision is made in the US Courts or Federal legislature this issue will probably continue to remain unresolved.

For information about legislation designed to deal with the immigration restrictions placed upon same sex bi-national couples please see: Uniting American Families Act or UAFA.

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31st January 2011

The issue of Federal recognition of same sex marriage is one which remains stuck in this bloggers mind like a splinter. The issue is vexing because the United States Federal government has clearly usurped sovereign State prerogatives on the issue while simultaneously trampling upon individual civil rights to equal protection under the laws of the United States as well as the fundamental Constitutional right to freely and peaceably associate with whomever one wishes to associate with. That said, the issue is, in this blogger’s opinion, best analyzed pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution of the USA.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) currently prohibits the United States Federal government from recognizing a marriage or civil union between two individuals of the same sex. Most legal scholars approach the issue of same sex marriage and the preclusion of Federal recognition from a civil rights perspective. Although this blogger wholeheartedly agrees that LGBT rights issues do generally fall under the umbrella of civil liberties, the ramifications of DOMA upon the sovereign American States is the most unfortunate aspect of the current state of affairs.

To quote directly from Wikipedia.com:

In Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington, D.C., marriages for same-sex couples are legal and currently performed.

This is important to note as there are American States which explicitly prohibit the recognition of marriages between two people of the the same sex. Conversely, as noted above, there are currently five (5) states which allow same sex marriage. This has lead to a situation in which there is little interstate uniformity regarding this issue. As their site puts things so succinctly it may be best to quote Wikipedia.com’s entry on this issue further:

There has been much speculation on the clause’s possible application to same-sex marriage, civil union, and domestic partnership laws and cases, as well as the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment. Between 1996 and 2004, 39 states passed their own laws and constitutional amendments, sometimes called “mini DOMAs,” which define marriage as consisting solely of opposite-sex couples. Most of these “mini DOMAs” explicitly prohibit the state from honoring same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries. Conversely, several states have legalized same-sex marriage, either legislatively or by state supreme court judgment.

The United States Supreme Court has not ruled on how (if at all) these laws are affected by the Full Faith and Credit Clause. However, in August 2007, a federal appeals court held that the clause did require Oklahoma to recognize adoptions by same-sex couples which were finalized in other states.[18]

If the Full Faith and Credit clause is given its traditional interpretation, it has no application to same-sex marriage, and the DOMA legislation is superfluous and even dangerous, as it may lead to a misconstruction of the Full Faith and Credit clause. If a state is required to recognize a same sex marriage, it will be pursuant to the Equal Protection Clause, as was the case with respect to interracial marriages.

The final paragraph of this citation is most notable to this blogger as it is the section in which he is in disagreement. To understand the reasoning behind this blogger’s disbelief in the assertions stated in this Wikipedia.com posting one must first read the actual text of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the US Constitution:

Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

It is virtually self-evident, in this author’s opinion, that the plain language of the Full Faith and Credit Clause will compel broad recognition of same sex marriage in the USA. Rather than looking at the issue from a civil rights perspective (which requires lengthy analysis into what are, in this author’s opinion, superfluous issues such as personal or religious feeling regarding same sex marriage which have no place in a reasoned legal analysis of the issue) simply examine the plain language of the Clause itself. The clause explicitly states that Full Faith and Credit SHALL be given to the public RECORDS of every other State.

What does this mean from a practical perspective? To use a hypothetical: two people of the same sex go to the State of Iowa (a jurisdiction which, according to a citation above, both recognizes and solemnizes same sex marriage) and get married. To quote the official Iowa County, Iowa website:

Iowa Vital Records are official registrations of births, deaths and marriages. Certified copies of Vital Records can be obtained from a County Recorder’s office or the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Once an official record is made of a registered same sex marriage does not the Full Faith and Credit Clause operate to compel interstate recognition of such a record? One would think, but there are exceptions to this kind of broad application of the Full Faith and Credit Clause as States which have clear public policies in conflict with foreign State Judgments, Acts, or Records may be permitted to ignore such Judgments, Acts, or Records (foreign judgments always seem to be accorded more preference from an interstate enforcement standpoint).

InterState recognition of same sex marriage, or as this blogger prefers to refer to it: Horizontal Full Faith and Credit of same sex marriage; is not really the main thrust of this post as the more pressing concern for the purposes of this article is Federal recognition of same sex marriage notwithstanding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The interstate implications of some states fully recognizing same sex marriage while other states fail to recognize such unions are interesting topics, but the main issue of this posting is what this blogger refers to as Vertical Full Faith and Credit. Namely, Federal recognition of same sex marriage lawfully solemnized in a sovereign State. Since when was the United States Federal government able to pick and choose which State laws it was willing to recognize? To quote directly from USLegal.com:

The full faith and credit doctrine as applicable to the federal courts in recognizing the records and judicial proceedings of state courts is contained in 28 U.S.C. § 1738.  The full faith and credit rule pertains to recognition by state courts of the records and judicial proceedings of courts of sister States; this includes every court within the United States.  This provision also includes recognition of the records and proceedings of the courts of any territory or any country subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.  By this provision, the federal courts are also bound to give to the judgments of the state courts the same faith and credit that the courts of one State are bound to give to the judgments of the courts of their sister States…

Pursuant to a plain language analysis of the Constitution it is this author’s opinion that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional as it requires the Federal government to disregard the Acts, Records, and Judgments creating same sex marital relationships within the jurisdiction of Sovereign States in direct violation of the plain language of the Full Faith and Credit Clause itself. Although there is a Civil Rights perspective to this issue, the major point that should not be overlooked is that fact that the US Congress is attempting, through enforcement of the Defense of Marriage Act, to dictate to the States what shall constitute a valid marriage. In the past, legalization and solemnization of marriage was within the exclusive bailiwick of the State especially as such matters tend to pertain to public health and safety issues.

This has very large practical implications especially for same sex bi-national couples as the Federal government, pursuant to DOMA, cannot grant American family visa benefits to the same sex partner of a US Citizen (notwithstanding the fact that the couple may have solemnized a legally binding marriage within one of the sovereign American States that allows same sex marriages). Hopefully this injustice will be dealt with soon as it is unfortunate that the rights of the States and the people are being disregarded as a result of DOMA’s continued enforcement.

In recent months, efforts have been made to pass legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). Bills such as this would mitigate some of the discrimination which is routinely deployed against same sex bi-national families as the language of the proposed bill (and that of those similar to it) would allow for the “permanent partners” of American Citizens and lawful permanent residents to apply for US visa benefits in much the same manner as foreign fiancees and spouses of US Citizens and lawful permanent residents. This legislation, and that like it, is a good step in the right direction, but it does not address the myriad legal rights and privileges routinely deprived to same sex couples under the current Federal regime.

For related information please see: Same Sex Partner Visa.

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31st July 2010

In recent postings on this blog this author has discussed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the ongoing US Court proceedings that are aimed at overturning this legislation in order to accord same-sex bi-national couples with privileges equal to their different-sex counterparts. Recently, a Court in Massachusetts found that the provisions of DOMA run contrary to the United States Constitution. As a result, this decision could greatly modify the framework by which Immigration petitions are adjudicated. Apparently, the Court wishes to delay radical modification of US Immigration law and procedure until such time as all issues can be addressed in an appellate proceeding. It would appear that many same-sex bi-national couples are waiting with baited breathe to see the practical implications of the recent Court decision overturning certain aspects of DOMA. However, there is some delay as the Immigration Equality blog explains.  To quote directly from the Immigration Equality blog as of July 27, 2010:

Many of you have had questions about the status of the DOMA case. Just like you, we are waiting for the court to issue an order which should be happening any day now. Once the order is issued, there will be an automatic 14 day stay. We are almost certain that during that 14 day period, the government will file an appeal and we are almost certain that the stay will remain in effect during the course of the appeal. But we will keep you updated as soon as we learn of any further developments.

Those reading this post are probably curious about the practical ramifications of the “stay” of this decision. The “stay” means that the current mechanism for adjudicating US Immigration petitions will remain in place, at least for now. Therefore, those Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents with a same sex loved one living abroad will still be unable to petition and apply for same sex family visa benefits pursuant to the provisions of DOMA. Many feel, and this author concurs, that the American appellate courts, including the United States Supreme Court, are likely to find DOMA unconstitutional pursuant to American legal doctrines such as “Full Faith and Credit” and “States’ Rights“. However, as the issue remains unresolved it is unwise for anyone to make any irrevocable decisions regarding US LGBT Immigration until a final judgment is handed down without reservation.

It should be noted that judicial intervention is not the only method available for those wishing to see same sex visa benefits accorded in the same manner for those in a same sex marriage or relationship as those in a different sex marriage or relationship. The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) would provide a statutory framework whereby same sex “permanent partners” could be granted the same Immigration benefits as those in a different-sex marriage or relationship. Although UAFA-like legislation has seen unfailing support from legislators such as Jerry Nadler, many feel that the issue of LGBT Immigration rights will ultimately be adjudicated by the US Courts.

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