Integrity Legal

26th July 2009

This blog has been keeping track of the US Immigration implications of recognition of Same Sex Marriage under United States Federal law. Currently, a US law known as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), precludes the United States Federal government from recognizing same sex marriage (even when the marriage was validly executed in one of the fifty US States). Also, DOMA provides American states with the option of not recognizing same-sex unions in other states (although this provision has been question on Full Faith and Credit grounds).  Since the United States government does not recognize same sex marriage, same sex bi-national couples cannot obtain US Immigration benefits based upon a marital relationship.

There are currently movements to provide immigration benefits for same-sex couples. One pending bill is known as the Uniting American Families Act which has apparently been reborn under a new moniker: the Re-Uniting American Families Act. There is also a movement gaining a great deal of steam that seeks a full repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. It is this author’s opinion, that eventually the Defense of Marriage Act will be repealed. The upshot of DOMA’s repeal will be an increase in family immigration benefits for same sex couples.

This pending legislation and political movement has been the focal point of many posts previously written on this blog, but since this blog is also concerned with Thai law, it begs the question: does Thailand recognize same sex marriage? The short answer: No. It should be noted that Thailand is one of the most tolerant cultures in the world, particularly regarding gay rights. That being said, there is no process under Thai law for legalizing a relationship of two people who are of the same sex. In many countries, a legal partnership known as a “civil union” is used to legitimize a relationship between two people of the same sex.  In Thailand, there is no “civil union” mechanism for providing legal protection for a same sex couple. That being said, Thailand marriage registration is often not a method employed by a couple who wishes to have an ongoing relationship. It is quite common in Thailand for a couple to have a marriage ceremony (customary or religious), but never actually register a marriage in Thailand with the local Amphur office (District Office). Therefore, as a practical matter Thai same sex couples can maintain a domestic relationship in a manner similar to different sex couples who choose not to legalize their union.

At the present time there does not appear to be any political movement to legalize same sex marriage in Thailand. For those who wish to protect their same sex loved one, legal mechanisms such as a Thai will can assist in providing legal benefits usually accorded to those in a different sex relationship.

For more information please see: Bangkok Lawyer, or Visa Lawyer Thailand.

(Please note that the information contained herein is intended for educational purposes only. No lawyer-client relationship is created by reading this piece.)


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