Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Found Unconstitutional by US Supreme Court

Welcome to my blog. This is not only my first blog on my new website, but my first official blog ever! And, I am not without subject matters to blog about, since this week is a historic week in immigration law.

For starters, hip hip hurray for the United States Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, which held on June 26, 2013, that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. Equal protection was the winning argument, as opposed to states’ rights (to decide on the definition of marriage). Secretary Janet Napolitano commented:

I applaud today’s Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor holding that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. This discriminatory law denied thousands of legally married same-sex couples many important federal benefits, including immigration benefits. I am pleased the Court agreed with the Administration’s position that DOMA’s restrictions violate the Constitution. Working with our federal partners, including the Department of Justice, we will implement today’s decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of our immigration laws.

While the underlying matter was not an immigration case, the Supreme Court decision has a significant impact on immigration. For one, those in same sex marriages or relationships may petition for immigration benefits such as marriage or fiance visas for each other, whereas, pre-Windsor, DOMA had prohibited such petitions. However, even with DOMA stricken down, same sex couples still face hurdles in proving the bona fide nature of the relationship, traditionally by friends/family affidavits and photographs. Just because the Feds now recognize same sex marriages, it does not mean the same sex couples’ families, friends, employers, etc. will. If you want to petition for your same sex partner, I can advise you on how you can meet the requirements for such visas even if you face such difficulties. Contact me for an appointment.

For the full opinion, see http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-307_g2bh.pdf