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House Republicans Seek to Split Couples Apart as They Intervene in Immigration Equality’s Lawsuit Against DOMA

by Mahwish Khan on 05/10/2012 at 2:59pm

Yesterday, President Obama announced his support of marriage equality. This was the culmination of the President’s evolution on the issue and has been hailed as a major step forward for equality.

LGBT immigrants have to deal not only with our nation’s broken immigration system, binational same-sex couples are subject to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law that precludes granting any federal benefits to same-sex couples.

Our friends at Immigration Equality have led the effort to end DOMA restrictions for same-sex couples. In April, the group filed a lawsuit against the act. The Obama Administration’s Department of Justice is no longer defending DOMA, which the President views as unconstitutional.

Yesterday, the Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representative moved in the opposite direction. They’re going to defend the lawsuit against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) brought by Immigration Equality.  Elise Foley has the story:

House Republicans will intervene in a lawsuit that would keep same-sex couples from being pulled apart — even separated to different countries — by immigration authorities under the Defense of Marriage Act, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner confirmed on Wednesday.

The House GOP took up the challenge of defending DOMA, which bans legal recognition of same-sex marriage at the federal level, in May 2011, after President Barack Obama announced in February 2011 that the Department of Justice would no longer defend it. Obama said at the time that he believed the law was unconstitutional. The president came out in support of legalizing same-sex marriage on Wednesday in an interview with ABC, after about a year and a half of “evolving” on the issue, but said it should be decided by states.

Yet DOMA is a federal law that trumps legal same-sex marriages in the states, including in immigration matters. House Republicans are defending it in a number of challenges, but told advocacy group Immigration Equality on Friday that they would step in to defend DOMA against the organization’s suit about binational same-sex couples.

“As I’m sure you’re aware, the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group has been defending, for the last year or so, the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA in cases in which DOJ is not defending the statute,” House General Counsel Kerry Kircher said in an email to Immigration Equality, according to the group. “DOJ has advised us that it will not defend Section 3 in the Blesch case. As a result, the House is planning to move to intervene in this matter, probably within the next week or so.”

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