On Wednesday, July 26, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a historic ruling for gay rights. Section 3 of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, was ruled unconstitutional. The Supreme Court stated that:
The class to which DOMA directs its restrictions and restraints are those persons who are joined in same-sex marriages made lawful by the State. DOMA singles out a class of persons deemed by a State entitled to recognition and protection to enhance their own liberty. It imposes a disability on the class by refusing to acknowledge a status the State finds to be dignified and proper. DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others. The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.
The Secretary of Homeland Security’s press release stated that, “This discriminatory law denied thousands of legally married same-sex couples many important federal benefits, including immigration benefits.” Secretary Napolitano’s statement continued: “Working with our federal partners, including the Department of Justice, we will implement today’s decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of our immigration laws.”
What Does the DOMA Ruling Mean for U.S. Immigration Policy and Gay Immigrants?
1) Green Cards for Gay Immigrants Married to U.S. Citizens
Gay couples who applied for green cards prior to the ruling were approved for their green cards just days after the ruling. To read more, see the Huffington Post article here.
2) Halting Deportation of Same Sex Couples in Certain Cases
Just minutes after the DOMA ruling, the deportation proceedings for a a Columbian man legally married to a U.S. male citizen were stopped. To read more, see the article here.
3) U.S. Businesses Become More Competitive for Hiring and Retaining Gay Immigrant Employees
Previously, professional workers or temporary visa workers may choose not to come to the U.S. if they had a same-sex partner in their country of origin. Under the old law, there was no way for an immigrant worker to petition their spouse to come live with them in the U.S. Now, gay employees of U.S. American businesses have access to the greater immigration benefits afforded to other U.S. married couples.