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Obama’s New Stand on DOMA Could Benefit Binational Same-Sex Couples

by Mahwish Khan on 02/24/2011 at 1:19pm

DOMAYesterday, we learned that President Obama believes Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. Also, his administration will no longer defend the law in pending court cases.

Section 3 of DOMA defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman under federal law purposes, which also means that there are no protections for bi-national same-sex couples who are legally married in one of the states or foreign countries that allow marriage. Therefore, same-sex binational couples are prevented from seeking relief through the immigration system. The legislative solution for this problem is the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), which also happens to be a bill that America’s Voice supports.

But here’s how this could work out for the many families who are affected by the law: If DOMA is indeed found unconstitutional, it will provide relief to the many binational same-sex couples in the United States.

Last July, after DOMA was found unconstitutional in two Massachusetts cases, Immigration Equality explained what the impact of ending DOMA through the courts would be; Namely, if the Supreme Court upholds that DOMA is unconstitutional, same sex couples that are validly married would be able to receive federal benefits, including immigration, based on their marriage. Basically, this would mean that binational couples who live in the handful of states that allow same sex marriage could get immigration benefits, and couples who live in states with mini-DOMAs could not.

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