Wilner & O'Reilly, APLC
One Practice. One Focus. One Passion: Immigration Law.

Family immigration concerns and same-sex marriage

The U.S. Supreme Court decisions regarding California's Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a federal statute, could ultimately also affect family immigration. A ruling in favor of same-sex marriage could also mean for gay immigrant couples that green cards may be made available for one's partner. An unfavorable ruling, on the other hand, may mean that partners could be separated from each other if one of the two happens to be undocumented.

While heterosexual couples do not have to face the same obstacles because most such marriage will be legally recognized by the federal statute, DOMA denies same-sex couples any number of federal benefits - even if they were married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage. It's therefore possible that a striking down of DOMA could lead to green cards being made available to same-sex couples as a federal benefit other married couples receive. 

Immigrants face a surprising variety of legal issues that non-immigrants will never face. Especially when it comes to family immigration, the types of issues faced can be extremely personal. It's for this reason that attorneys that regularly represent immigrants need to be versed in a wide number of legal areas. Most every issue revolves around the individual circumstances of that particular family.

The activities of undocumented immigrants are closely monitored, and many options are not available to them out of fears of being deported. And it is estimated that as many as 36,000 same-sex couples are living in this country with at least one of the partners being undocumented.

Source: ABC News, "DOMA Ruling Could Mean Green Cards for Gay Immigrants," by Emily Deruy, March 27, 2013

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