WASHINGTON — The government says it will begin extending immigration benefits to gay married couples in light of the Supreme Court’s decision striking down key portions of a federal gay marriage law.
That means that U.S. citizens or permanent residents with foreign spouses would be able to sponsor their partners for U.S. residency, like straight married Americans can.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano pledged in a statement to ensure that all married couples are treated equally and fairly in the administration of immigration laws:
“I applaud today’s Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor holding that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional.
“This discriminatory law denied thousands of legally married same-sex couples many important federal benefits, including immigration benefits. I am pleased the Court agreed with the Administration’s position that DOMA’s restrictions violate the Constitution.
“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.”
The issue emerged as a point of contention in the debate over sweeping immigration legislation now before the Senate, but the Supreme Court’s decision removes pressure on senators to address the matter in the immigration bill.