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The Law Office of Robert L. Lewis applauds the recent decisions of the Supreme Court that overruled the Defense of Marriage Act and restored marriage equality to California. The Department of Homeland Security and Department of State rapidly announced that they will treat same-sex spouses equally as opposite-sex spouses in deciding applications for immigration benefits. Within days of the Supreme Court’s decisions, DHS approved green card status for the first same-sex couple.
Prior to the decision in United States v. Windsor, U.S. immigration law discriminated against same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Marriage to a U.S. citizen often provides an avenue to obtain green card status, but because the federal “Defense of Marriage Act,” defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman, same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens could not benefit. The Supreme Court’s decision found the law unconstitutional because its only purpose was a bare desire to harm a group of people whom the states had found deserve the protection marriage offers.
Immigrants will still need to qualify under the complex and sometimes unfair rules that characterize our immigration system. For example, immigrants who are married to U.S. citizens but entered without a visa may need to leave the country to obtain an immigrant visa and then return as a green card holder. However, as noted in our article on Asylum, sexual orientation and gender identity may be the basis of a successful asylum claim depending on an immigrant’s circumstances–a benefit available even if an immigrant arrived unlawfully.
The Law Office of Robert L. Lewis is proud to be an advocate for the LGBT community. To learn more about how the changes in law affect your family, speak to one of our attorneys today.