Thursday, April 5, 2012

Immigration and Same-Sex Marriage

In Brooklyn’s US District Court for the Eastern District of New York this week, Immigration Equality filed a complaint on behalf of several married gay couples, including New York residents Heather Morgan and Maria del Mar Verdugo, who were married last year. The suit alleges a violation of the plaintiffs' constitutional rights by preventing them from sponsoring their spouses for green cards. The five couples named as plaintiffs are seeking to obtain US citizenship for a foreign-born spouse. At issue is the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) which bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages and denies federal benefits to married gay couples. The US federal government does not recognize lesbian and gay couples for immigration purposes. The plaintiffs were married in states permitting gay marriage. For heterosexual married couples, the US government would recognize the foreign spouse as an immediate relative of the American citizen and allow for citizenship. The named defendants are Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and the Director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, and others. The complaint alleges that DOMA violates the constitutional right to equal protection.

SARA, the Brooklyn Law School Library catalog, has an item in electronic format Hearing on "S.598, the Respect for Marriage Act, Assessing the Impact of DOMA on American Families" dated July 20, 2011written testimony of the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law which has statistical analysis of the effects of the Defense of Marriage Act on same-sex couples in the United States. See also Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Couples in Europe edited by Katharina Boele-Woelki and Angelika Fuchs (Call # KJC1159 .L34 2003). A preview of this book is available here.

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