New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

Same Sex Partners Working to Obtain Marriage Petitions

Author: Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

Toward the end of 2012, the New York Daily News reported that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled on a case that could lead to a major change in immigration law. The court ruled that the Defense in Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. In December, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the case, and it is the only court that has the power to overturn this ruling.

The cases being reviewed are tax cases, the United States v. Windsor, Edith S., et al and Hollingsworth v. Perry. In the Windsor case, Edie Windsor, age 83 was together with her partner Thea Spyer for 44 years and they were engaged in 1967 and married in Canada in 2007. When Thea died two years after their marriage, Edie faced paying $353,053 in estate taxes that she would not have to pay if recognized as a spouse. The U.S. federal government did not recognize their marriage because of DOMA.

In the Hollingsworth v. Perry case, the court ruled that when California's Proposition 8 banned same-sex marriage, this was unconstitutional because it reclassified gay and lesbian relationships and families as inferior to opposite-sex couples.

While the case before the Second Circuit Court involves tax law discrimination for same-sex partners, if the Supreme Court goes along with this ruling, it will set a precedent for other federal legal areas. If the Supreme Court upholds the unconstitutionality of DOMA, the decision would affect immigration, allowing same-sex couples to petition on behalf of their partners and bring them into the United States as spouses through family-based immigration. Permanent residents and U.S. citizens would be able to sponsor same-sex spouses for immigration.

Immigration is still an evolving area of law and subject to considerable reform. It is best to consult a New York immigration lawyer for legal help if dealing with immigration issues.

22 February 2013
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