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54 groups call on Obama to take action for bi-national couples

CHRIS JOHNSON | Washington Blade
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A total of 54 LGBT and immigration advocacy groups are teaming up to make a renewed call on the Obama administration to take action on behalf of bi-national same-sex couples in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to take up litigation challenging DOMA.

In a letter written Monday to President Obama and other administration officials, the groups call on the administration to place on hold the marriage-based green card applications for bi-national same-sex couples as observers await a final decision from the Supreme Court on DOMA’s constitutionality.

File photo by Michael Key, Washington Blade

“With the Supreme Court’s decision to rule on DOMA’s constitutionality, we will know by next June whether or not applications for lawful permanent residence for lesbian and gay spouses will ultimately be approvable,” the letter states. “Therefore, we are only asking that, in the interim, these applications be held for a period of a few months. Doing so will prevent extreme hardship to lesbian and gay immigrant families. By holding applications for lawful permanent residence in abeyance neither granting them nor denying them LGBT families can remain securely together in the U.S. until the Supreme Court issues its ruling next year.”

Among the signatories of the letter are LGBT groups such as Immigration Equality, the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force as well as the immigration groups such as the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the National Council of La Raza.

Rachel Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, said in a statement the Supreme Court’s decision to rule on DOMA signals the anti-gay law is near its end, which creates an opportune moment for the Obama administration to take action.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to review DOMA means we now have a date-certain for a final determination about the law,” Tiven said. “It makes no sense to continue denying green card applications which, if the law is struck down by the court, would be approved. By holding these applications, the administration can ensure couples will not be separated or forced into exile.”

Straight Americans can sponsor their foreign national spouses for residency in the United States. However, that option isn’t available to gay Americans in legal same-sex marriages to foreign nationals because of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage.

Under current immigration code, bi-national same-sex couples could be in danger of separation and the immigrant in the relationship without legal status could be subject to deportation. Legislation known as the Uniting American Families Act would address the issue, although the bill hasn’t moved forward.

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8 more reader comments:

  1. But what about the couples that are born here that aren’t recognized yet? I sympathize with bi-national couples but we need to get our own recognized first, please.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 6:22am
  2. if it becomes federal then we all win, and people like me won’t be forced to live away from their families to be with their spouse.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 6:29am
  3. Steven, our citizens aren’t being neglected because of this action. We ALL have to wait for DOMA to be repealed. But while we are waiting, we can take a moment to put pressure on Obama to help these guys out.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 6:41am
  4. All LGBT rights should be pushed! Equal rights under our constitution for all of us!

    Posted on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 6:48am
  5. Cari, but we need to give all of our own citizens full equality first before we expand it to include bi-national.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 7:41am
  6. I feel like I can finally breathe again! Looks like I got some major paperwork ahead of me over Christmas.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 10:22am
  7. Steven, one of the two is a citizen and therefore I do not see your point.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 5:39pm
  8. Niels, my partner and I who are married via Canada are both citizens but yet we are not even recognized by our own country. Now do you see my point?

    Posted on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 8:15pm