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Green cards still unattainable for legally married gay couples

In the wake of President Obama declaring the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional, green card applications from spouses of legally married same-sex couples were put on hold so that legal decisions could be made as to how the applications should be handled.

Unfortunately for bi-national same sex couples, a spokesperson for U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) said this week that temporary hold had been lifted after the agency heard word from the Obama Administration that there would be no change in policy as of yet. That means that it will continue to be impossible for immigrant spouses in same-sex marriages to obtain a green card.

In late February, the United States Attorney General announced that the Obama Administration determined the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional and said that the Act would no longer be defended in court. The Act made it so while heterosexual Americans can sponsor their spouse for residency through a green card, homosexual Americans cannot, even if the couple lives in a state or jurisdiction that recognizes the marriage.

A spokesman for Immigration Equality said his organization was disappointed that the Obama administration decided to continue to deport foreign nationals in legal same-sex marriages.

"Our government should be in the business of keeping families together, not tearing them apart," the spokesman said.

He said his organization will again call for the Obama Administration to at least put the denial of green card applications for same-sex spouses on hold until the courts clear up the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.

He said that "[a]t the very least, [the Department of Homeland Security] should wait for the courts to settle [the Act's] constitutionality before removing spouses who would immediately benefit if the law is struck down."

Ultimately, it appears that the ability of same-sex couples to obtain a green card for a foreign national spouse will not be known until the legality of the Defense of Marriage Act is established by either the Supreme Court or Congress. In the meantime, hundreds of loved ones could be forced to leave the country and their families.

Source: The Washington Blade, "Green card hold ends for foreigners in same-sex marriages," Chris Johnson, 3/30/2011.

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