Articles Posted in LGBT Immigration Issues

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25-gay-marriage.w529.h352.2xIn a highly-anticipated decision, the United States Supreme Court held that “the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty.”   Obergefell v. Hodges, 14-556, 2015 WL 2473451 (U.S. June 26, 2015).  The Court held that “same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them.”  Id.  
In reaching its decision, the Court examined how marriage has evolved over the years and noted that “it has not stood in isolation from developments in law and society. The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change.”  The Court noted that “[t]here is no difference between same- and opposite-sex couples with respect to this principle” and yet  same-sex couples have been harmed in many ways.  They were “consigned to an instability many opposite-sex couples would deem intolerable in their own lives.”  This exclusion has “the effect of teaching that gays and lesbians are unequal in important respects. It demeans gays and lesbians for the State to lock them out of a central institution of the Nation’s society. Same-sex couples, too, may aspire to the transcendent purposes of marriage and seek fulfillment in its highest meaning.”Obergefell v. Hodges, 14-556, 2015 WL 2473451 (U.S. June 26, 2015)
The Court recognized the urgency of resolving this legal disability and discrimination:

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weddingrings-3-116626-mAfter the United States Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675, 2695-96, 186 L. Ed. 2d 808 (2013), holding that the Defense of Marriage Act’s definition of marriage was unconstitutional and a deprivation of liberty interest protected by the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the USCIS began processing immigrant petitions for same sex spouses. On July 1, 2015, the then Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano stated “I have directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse.”

On June 26, 2015, it will be two years since the landmark decision of the Supreme Court. Since that time, our law firm has processed numerous same sex petitions, all of which USCIS has approved in a swift and efficient manner. We are happy to report that petitions filed on behalf of same-sex spouse are being processed in the same manner as those filed on behalf of heterosexual spouses. Even though the processing is the same, we would like to share some unique challenges faced by same sex couples when preparing the evidence in support of a good faith marriage.

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