Out4Immigration Prepares for SCOTUS Review of DOMA Cases
Urges Action from Same-Sex Binationals in Lead Up to Court Decision
SAN FRANCISCO – DECEMBER 12, 2012 – Out4Immigration welcomes the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to hear two cases challenging the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The court announced its intent to review the law on December 7th. A final decision is expected in June 2013.
A ruling in favor of dismantling Section 3 of DOMA would give same-sex couples access to 1,138 federal marriage rights they are currently denied, including the right of an American citizen married to a foreign national the ability to secure a green card for their spouse. An estimated 40,000 of these couples, known as same-sex binationals, will benefit immensely from the end of DOMA.
Section 3 is the part of DOMA that says the word “marriage” can only be used to define a union between one man and one woman at the Federal Level. SCOTUS has chosen to hear the case in which an 83-year-old-widow, Edie Windsor, has been forced to pay more than $300,000 in estate taxes on her wife’s property due to DOMA. Heterosexuals do not have to pay estate taxes on property inherited from their spouse.
“Just like Edie Windsor, same-sex binationals are also subject to the harsh consequences of DOMA,” said Amos Lim, Community Outreach Director for Out4Immigration. “Immigration rights for spouses also are impacted by Section 3 of DOMA. As a consequence we have seen couples literally torn apart – forced to live on two separate continents, only able to spend a few weeks together each year.”
“We’ve also seen couples fall out of legal status, and face two very unacceptable options. Leave the US to live in exile in a country with more favorable immigration and marriage equality laws or accrue unlawful presence and face the daily fear of deportation.”
All of these options take an enormous emotional, physical and financial toll on the couples, their families and extended communities.
Earlier this week, Out4Immigration joined more than 50 groups in signing a letter to the Obama Administration that asks for a green card abeyance policy to be put in place until SCOTUS makes its decision on DOMA.
While the fate of DOMA is now in the hands of SCOTUS, Out4Immigration urges same-sex binationals come forward and tell their stories to stoke the court of public opinion that already favors same-sex marriage. Out4Immigration has made it easy for couples to share their stories by completing this form: http://bit.ly/O4ICountMeIn
Stories of how couples met and the challenges they have faced in remaining together in spite of DOMA and immigration inequality are being featured on Out4Immigration’s blog, its United by Love, Divided by Law visual protest site and by GetEqual, an LGBT rights group working for full federal equality. The stories are being used to make the case for the Obama Administration to enact a “green card abeyance” policy, that is, to hold the applications of green cards for foreign nationals in same-sex binational relationships until DOMA’s constitutionally is decided by SCOTUS.
The stories will also be presented when Congress takes up comprehensive immigration reform next year, to ensure that same-sex binationals are included in any immigration reform legislation being introduced and voted on.
“There is unbelievable power in these personal stories,” says Lim. “So many people are unaware of the struggles same-sex binationals face. When they hear that DOMA and US immigration laws have forced people to choose between their spouse and their country, they stand up and say, ‘This is wrong. This is not American.’ And then, we hope, they will call or write Congress to demand change.”