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Family immigration and the same-sex marriage issue

March 29, 2013 – David Hahn

Robichaud Law - Minneapolis Personal Injury & Immigration Attorneys

Congress is on its spring break, so there are no new developments to report regarding attempts to pass immigration reform legislation this year. But there was an event in Washington, DC this week that could have a significant impact on family immigration.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

DOMA currently bars the U.S. government from providing the same benefits to married same-sex couples that it does to married heterosexual couples. But if the Supreme Court were to strike down DOMA, it could enable GLBT people in same-sex marriages greater access to family immigration privileges, such as green cards. Such a ruling would affect immigration in Minnesota and across the country.

Green cards are of course commonly used by spouses of U.S. citizens for immigration purposes. But that option is not currently available for same-sex couples. This is because DOMA defines marriage as only possible between one man and one woman.

Nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage. But because federal law overrides state law, DOMA prevents same-sex married couples in those states from receiving the same benefits as heterosexual married couples.

No one is sure how the Supreme Court will rule in the case challenging DOMA. But there are already signs that the federal government is taking a different stance toward gay or lesbian spouses. For example, the homeland security departments now considers same-sex spouses in the same way it does heterosexual spouses in determining whether deportation of a spouse is in order.

Source: “DOMA Ruling Could Mean Green Card for Gay Immigrants,” ABC News, Emily Deruy, 3-27-13

Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post in Minnesota. To learn more about our practice, please visit our page on family immigration.

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