Integrity Legal

3rd August 2009

As the movement towards the eventual repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) continues, it appears that proponents of repeal may score a minor victory by enlisting Senator Russ Feingold to introduce repeal legislation.

The Washington Blade reports,

“[Senator] Feingold is an attractive ally to introduce a DOMA repeal bill because he chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Constitution Subcommittee, which hold jurisdiction over DOMA, she said.”

Concurrently, it would appear that Jerry Nadler, Democratic Member of the House of Representatives, is preparing to introduce a bill to repeal DOMA. Under the provisions of the DOMA repeal currently being considered, states would not be forced to recognize same-sex marriages conducted in other states, but the Federal government would be required to recognize these marriages and provide federal benefits.

Allison Herwitt, legislative director of the Human Rights Campaign, was quoted as saying, “You could, if you lived in Oklahoma, travel to Massachusetts, or one of the other [five] states get married and [go] back to Oklahoma,” she said. “The state would not have to recognize your marriage, but federal benefits would flow.”

Jerry Nadler is notable for having introduced federal legislation known as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). This proposed legislation would have granted US Immigration benefits to the same-sex “permanent partners,” of American Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents (holders of US Green Card).

This proposed DOMA repeal would likely have the same effect as the provisions under the UAFA because it would theoretically accord the same sex spouse of an American Citizen the same privileges granted to different sex couples unde ramerican Immigration law. For example, if a bi-national same sex couple was validly married in Massachusetts and then the American Citizen filed an I-130 petition on behalf of his or her spouse, then the federal government would be compelled to recognize the marriage for the purposes of granting the Immigration benefit.

Further, one could argue that an American citizen could file a K1 visa application based upon the couple’s intent to travel to a jurisdiction in the United States which recognizes same-sex marriage and execute a valid marriage. It is thought that should this form of the DOMA repeal pass, then a fiance visa application filed for the above outlined purpose would be approved. That being said, as the bill has not been legalized and the contents are subject to change, it any analysis of USA visa implication is simply an exercise in speculation at this time.

(This is information provided for educational purposes. An attorney-client relationship should not be construed to exist between author and reader.)


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