Glimmer of Hope in US Same Sex Marriage Cases

Published: 01/04/2011

The continued debate on US marriage visa refusal for same sex applications carries on apace, with various contradictory views keeping this important issue in the news.
A recent statement by lawyers from the Department of Homeland Security – USCIS has concluded that a ban on US marriage visa applications by same-sex couples should be enforced as law by the US government. Yet President Obama has clearly stated his belief that it is wrong to deny the status of an individual’s citizenship based purely on their sexual orientation, and indeed US Attorney General Eric Holder has recently decided that visas should not be denied on the basis of same-sex marriage and he will no longer defend the constitutionality of The Defence of Marriage Act.
Thus the debate continues, with high-profile advocates of allowing US immigration to be free from same-sex discrimination at loggerheads with defenders of The Defence of Marriage Act. However, many US organisations that support same-sex binational couples’ rights are keen to point out the positives, not least that this important issue is on a high-level radar, particularly as some United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) District Offices are stopping the refusal of same-sex US permanent residency and US marriage visa applications.
USCIS press secretary Christopher Bentley was recently quoted in Metro Weekly on the issue of same-sex binational US visa applications, saying, “USCIS has issued guidance to the field asking that related cases be held in abeyance while awaiting final guidance related to distinct legal issues.”
Rachel Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality is understandably pleased with the developments. She said, “We have been fighting for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) immigrant families since 1994. In that time we have counselled more than 10,000 families – and for them, today’s news is a sign that relief is finally on the way.”
Indeed, the USCIS announcement that same-sex spousal US green cards is also a future possibility only adds to the positive feelings surrounding this issue. US immigration officials have stated that foreign nationals who are legally married to their same-sex US citizen partner may now apply for a US green card as their immediate relative, although it is not yet clear if the US Government will issue green cards to the same-sex spouses of US citizens as no official implementation of new policy has been made, but applications will not automatically be rejected on these grounds.
USCIS’s Christopher Bentley added that the agency will put applications for spousal US green cards on hold, albeit temporarily, until official guidance is received and perhaps a new policy is drafted. Marriage Visa Help will continue to update this section on the changing news regarding US immigration and same-sex US marriage visa applications.

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