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End to DOMA Brings Relief for Same-Sex Couples Left Out of Senate Immigration Bill

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End to DOMA Brings Relief for Same-Sex Couples Left Out of Senate Immigration Bill

June 26, 2013 | Tags: DOMA

The U.S. Supreme Court's landmark ruling today striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a victory not only for same-sex couples in the United States, but also for bi-national same-sex couples who have been kept apart or forced to live outside of the U.S. because their marriages were not recognized under U.S. immigration law. The Supreme Court's ruling struck down Section 3 of DOMA, which prohibited the federal government from conferring benefits to married same-sex couples, by finding the provision unconstitutional. DOMA had made it impossible for lesbian and gay couples to receive immigration benefits, including green cards.

U.S. immigration law recognizes marriages that are valid where celebrated — so couples who marry in a state or country that allows them to do so will be eligible to submit a green card application or apply for other U.S. immigration benefits, even if they live in a state that does not recognize their marriage. The DOMA decision brings relief for LGBT families, who were left out of the Senate's immigration bill. It remains unclear exactly when the federal government will be able to begin processing immigration applications for same-sex couples.

Also today, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California, saying that defenders of Proposition 8 did not have the right to appeal lower court rulings striking down the ban. The ruling restores the initial trial court decision that the ban in California is unconstitutional. At the direction of Gov. Jerry Brown, same-sex marriages in California are set to resume in late July. In all, 12 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized same-sex marriages.

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