Admittedly, the day is so long coming that it is perhaps difficult to believe that it could happen almost overnight. But that is the result. And it is here to stay! Same-sex couples across the United States and the world are now enjoying federal benefits. One of the most significant of which is the benefit of petitioning for your same-sex spouse to get legal status in the United States.
As an immigration attorney, I get emails almost every day from people in same-sex relationships and marriages that are still in disbelief. They don’t think that it could possibly be true. Maybe they think it is too good to be true. Others think it is a trick or a trap. While some still believe that this is something that will only stand for a short time before the U.S. government reverses its course. But my answer is always the same, “YES, you [or your spouse] can get a green card!”
With the overturn of the Defense of Marriage Act, known colloquially as DOMA, same-sex couples are permanently entitled to identical treatment under the law as opposite-sex couples. There is no turning back. The Supreme Court has ruled that it is unconstitutional for the federal government to treat same-sex marriage any differently. This is irreversible but for an infinitesimally unlikely Supreme Court ruling revoking its own decision.
It is safe to say that the tide has turned. Nevertheless, in order to take advantage of the new benefits, same-sex couples will need to marry in a state that recognizes marriage equality. But this number is also steadily growing. 13 states and Washington, D.C. have the freedom to marry. California opened up as a safe haven for marriage equality with the similarly momentous overturning of Proposition 8. Minnesota legalized same-sex marriage this year. Hawaii is poised to pass legislation authorizing marriage equality early next year.
Making such giant leaps in such a short time after the long hard-fought nature of the marriage equality debate is spectacular. But rest assured, there is no question that same-sex couples are now eligible for immigration benefits. Many have already been approved for green cards and fiancé(e) visas. Still others, who applied before the law was overturned, have seen their cases reopened voluntarily by the government and granted.
If you are in a same-sex relationship or marriage with a foreign national or undocumented immigrant, you now have the right to petition for their legal status. Please do not hesitate to contact our office for immediate assistance.
Mark A. Naugle is an attorney at Higbee & Associates, a national immigration law firm. He can be reached at [email protected] or at (714) 617-8395. Please also visit www.immigratefast.com