Integrity Legal

20th July 2009

It would appear that although repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) may not be happening anytime during the current legislative session. For same sex partners of United States Citizens, there may be hope that United States Federal Immigration Law could be modified in order to allow for United States immigration benefits for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Trans-gender (LGBT) Couples.

Under the current laws on the books, embodied in the United States Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), Bi-national LGBT couples are precluded from obtaining immigration benefits based upon their relationship. Therefore, the same sex partner of an American Citizen cannot obtain United States Lawful Permanent Resident (Green card) status based upon their relationship in the same way that foreign spouse or fiance could. It would appear that this situation may soon change.

According to CBS News:

“[M]ore than 100 lawmakers in the House and about 20 in the Senate have signed onto bills that would add the United States to the 19 countries that already recognize same-sex couples for immigration purposes.”

Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) is currently being considered in both the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. Many lawmakers are hoping to amend the currently pending bills with proposed amendments to correct the immigration injustice being perpetrated against bi-national same-sex couples. However, the proposed amendments to this legislation do not come without challengers, further from CBS News:

“The long-standing fight over the country’s estimated 36,000 same sex couples of two nationalities is a small but emotional part of the debate over immigration reform. But including same-sex couples in the mix could make it harder to pass an immigration overhaul. A key ally in past immigration fights, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said it would not support a measure that has a same-sex provision.”

United States Representative Mike Honda is a supporter of the legislation aimed at ameliorating same-sex discrepancies in Immigration law. The so-called Re-Uniting American Families Act is similar to previous legislation known as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). In both proposals, an addition of the term “permanent partner,” will be made to the United States INA which will allow for a circumvention of the restrictions placed upon same sex couples under current federal law (DOMA).

President Obama has signaled his wish that some sort of US Immigration category be created that would allow same-sex couples to have benefits similar to different sex couples. There are questions among same-sex civil rights groups regarding just how much the President really supports their cause as the outcome of the same-sex immigration debate remains in doubt.

(This post is not legal advice. Contact a Licensed professional for legal advice. No lawyer-client relationship is created between the writer and any reader of this article.)


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