Yesterday, the LGBTQ Community celebrated the end of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). However, the pathway to marriage equality has additional barriers for LGBT immigrants. While some celebrated the basic acknowledgment of their relationships, others like Sean Brooks and his husband Steve celebrated the end of deportation proceedings.
While DOMA was in effect, same sex married couples faced separation when their partner’s visas expired. For other LGBTQ Immigrant couples like Christina and Eve, their family was strained because DOMA denied them the ability to petition for a green card. Christina who is a veteran married Eve who is an immigrant, and DOMA did not afford them the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples. With the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, the elimination of DOMA marks another leap toward marriage equality.
In the gang of 8’s immigration legislation, an amendment to include same sex couples in immigration reform was shot down by the political voices of Lindsay Graham and Marco Rubio.
“Can you imagine pitting the L.G.B.T. community against the Hispanic community?” an aide to Senator Robert Menendez, a member of the Gang of Eight, told me before the vote. “Are we crazy?”
The end of DOMA signals the end of oppression for the LGBTQ community in many aspects of American culture; specifically for immigration proceedings- what should families know? ~ The New Yorker
Immigration Equality set out to write a checklist of what families should know. At the top of that list is the confirmation that same sex couples be able to apply for green cards and be allowed to apply even if the state of application does not recognize marriage equality.
In an interview with Kevin Johnson, Dean of the UC Davis School of Law and an immigration law expert, he stated the legalities were quite complicated.
“It’s far easier to change the law to recognize same-sex marriages than to wait for the courts to do it,” he said.
It’s not likely this will occur via immigration reform, though. Senate Judiciary Committee members opposed to Leahy’s original amendment in May said they feared it could bring down the entire bill. His latest amendment faced slim chances of getting a floor vote, and most likely won’t in light of the Supreme Court decision.
The Senate could vote on the immigration package as early as this week, and there’s a good possibility it will be approved. But all bets are off in the Republican-led House, which has yet to come up with its own comprehensive immigration plan.