Same Sex Marriage Lawsuit Challenges DOMA as Applied to Immigration
Author: Lawyer Alena Shautsova
Recently, a same sex couple in California filed a lawsuit in federal court to challenge the deportation of same sex couples. The Defense in Marriage Act (DOMA) is a federal law passed in 1996 that only recognizes marriages of opposite sex couples.
This particular case is brought by Jane DeLeon (who as a Philippine citizen), her U.S. citizen partner, and her 25-year old son. She and her partner have been in a same-sex marriage relationship for 20 years. Numerous media outlets have covered the story, and according to the Wisconsin Gazette, when she entered the country in 1989, she used the name of her common-law husband at that time. More recently, her employer-sponsored her, and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) granted an immigrant visa based on employment. However, to obtain permanent resident status, she must obtain a waiver from the USCIS by showing that deportation would impose a hardship for her U.S. citizen spouse. Typically the USCIS grants such waivers. However, in this case, it denied the waiver based on DOMA. The couple was legally married in 2008, but their marriage is not recognized under federal law because of DOMA.
The parties have filed a lawsuit, seeking class-action status. If the court grants this status, other same-sex couples will also be able to sue as a class, and the outcome of this case is expected to set a precedent for other similar cases.
If you face deportation or other immigration issues, consult a New York immigration lawyer to protect your rights.