Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘US Immigration Rights Same Sex Bi-national Couples’

3rd February 2011

While online this blogger came across an interesting article regarding same sex marriage in the United States of America and the campaign to equalize marital rights for same sex couples. It would appear that Ms. Barbara Bush (no, not the former First Lady, but her granddaughter) has come out in favor of marriage equality. To quote directly from an article written by Candace Chellew-Hodge posted on the website religiondispatches.org:

First, it was Arizona Senator John McCain’s daughter Meghan who came out as a young Republican in full support of marriage equality for gays and lesbians. Now, the youngest daughter of former President George W. Bush is—like her mother Laura before her—publicly proclaiming her support for marriage equality. In a video released this week by the Human Rights Campaign, Barbara Bush, proclaims herself “a New Yorker for marriage equality.”

It is interesting to note that the issue of marriage equality does not seem to conjure up the same sort of reaction from members of different generations. Where at one time, the issue of same sex marriage and LGBT rights were once quite controversial, especially within the Republican Party, now it would appear that more cooler heads are prevailing on the subject as even religious people who have personal issues with the practice understand that personal liberty and the right to be with people that one loves are fundamental to both the human experience and the American Dream. However, not everyone feels the same way as a further quote from the aforementioned website points out:

Over at Focus on the Family’s Citizen Link, blogger Jenny Tyree isn’t surprised at Ms. Bush and Ms. McCain’s support for marriage equality. “It’s rather easy for 20-somethings—or millennials—to jump on the very tidy-looking ‘rights’ bandwagon that proponents of same-sex marriage have made marriage to be,’ she writes, rightly observing that the majority of people aged 18-29 support marriage equality.

Those reading this posting are well advised to go to religiondispatches.org to read the story in its entirety. That said, first, it should be noted that this blogger, a twenty-something, albeit a late twenty-something, himself, hates the use of the term “Millennials” when describing the generation of Americans coming of age in the new millennium. The reason for the dislike of this label stems more from the fact that it makes such people sound like flowers which bloom on a yearly basis rather than a smart savvy generation who can clearly articulate their opinions on a wide array of issues, but this is a digression.

Of interest to those seeking information regarding United States Immigration law is the fact that under the current legal framework of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) the Federal government refuses to recognize the validity of same sex marriage notwithstanding the fact that 5 Sovereign US States currently recognize and solemnize such unions. There are many who would argue that this legislation is unconstitutional on its face as it completely abrogates the States’ prerogatives with regard to marriages conducted within their jurisdiction. Furthermore, it is this blogger’s opinion that this current practice violates the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the US Constitution as well as depriving individuals of their right to equal protection under the US Constitution and the rights conferred under the theory of “substantive due process.” In an immigration context, there have been moves in the US Congress to deal with the issue of same sex bi-national couples. Most notable have been Representative Jerrold Nadler’s attempts to gain passage of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) which would create a US Visa category for “permanent partners” of United States Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents. As of the time of this writing, this legislation has yet to be passed.

Under the government’s view of the law, bi-national same sex couples are not allowed to obtain US family visa benefits equal to those of their different-sex counterparts as doing so would be a violation of DOMA. Hopefully, with the support of a new generation of Americans these issues will be rectified and same sex couples will be afforded the same Constitutional liberties and immigration benefits as their different-sex counterparts.

Fore related information please see: Permanent Partner Visas.

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21st December 2010

This blog was not very adept at staying on top of the issues surrounding the so-called DREAM Act which would have made a great deal of progress in dealing with issues pertaining to the children of undocumented immigrants wishing to regularize their status in the United States. Recently, it was reported the the DREAM Act legislation was effectively derailed through use of cloture in the United States Senate. The American Immigration Lawyers Association has been working diligently to try to assist in this bill’s passage, but to no avail. To quote directly from the website of AILA:

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is disappointed that, after successful passage in the House, the Senate failed to advance the bipartisan DREAM Act this morning. The legislation did not garner enough votes to overcome a procedural hurdle, even though with 55 votes it had the support of a majority of the chamber’s lawmakers.

“It was with a heavy heart that I watched the DREAM Act deferred to yet another Congress. After the historic House victory and the tremendous outpouring of grassroots support for this legislation that would help deserving young people, today’s failed cloture vote is a wrong-headed dénouement,” said AILA President David Leopold who watched the legislative proceedings from Capitol Hill.

“It was sad to see some U.S. Senators putting politics before principles to vote no on cloture, thereby attaching their names to the wrong side of history. The DREAM Act did not pass today, but inevitably it will be law.”

The DREAM Act’s failure is disappointing for many, but there are those who still believe that the most pressing issue in the realm of United States Immigration is that of the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). Passage of this legislation would alleviate the current restrictions placed upon same sex or LGBT bi-national couples who wish to be reunited in the USA. Under the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) same sex couples, even those lawfully married in a jurisdiction within the United States of America, cannot obtain the same family based visa benefits compared to their different sex counterparts. There are many who seem to feel somewhat frustrated by the fact that other legislation such as the DREAM Act has gained traction on Capitol Hill while legislation such as UAFA, or legislation which includes  UAFA-like language, has not garnered such substantial support. To quote from a posting posted prior to the DREAM Act’s Senate vote by Melanie Nathan on the Lezgetreal.com blog:

The US has yet to enact laws that will prevent gay and lesbian couples from having to exile to stay with foreign partners or from partners facing deportation.  The discrimination in the USA is based on the fact that same-sex partners are specifically excluded from Federal rights – such as the right to sponsor a spouse for a green card, because of the Defense of Marriage Act. (DOMA)

There are some who would argue that DOMA violates the notions of state sovereignty and individual civil liberties enshrined in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights by depriving US Immigration benefits to LGBT couples while granting them to different sex couples. Bearing this in mind, it ought to be noted that the States’ Rights arguments in favor of overturning DOMA became much more potent after some American States began recognizing and solemnizing same sex unions. There are some who feel that the final decision in this matter may ultimately be made by the US Supreme Court as cases are currently proceeding through the US judicial system which could overturn DOMA. It still remains to be seen whether DOMA will remain in force, be circumvented through use of UAFA, or be overturned by the US Courts. In any case, there are many who hope that some sort of solution arrives soon as many bi-national families remain separated as a result of DOMA’s continued enforcement.

For related information please see: LGBT Visa.

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