Immigration Changes for Same-Sex Couples?

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By Lisa Marie Vari on Google+

The New York Times recently looked at an issue that is of substantial interest to our Allegheny County LGBT family law attorneys. As you may know, Congress is debating a new immigration law, and the various provisions that will go into it. Immigration issues have long been of great concern to family law, as immigration rules have brought families together and also kept them apart. The immigration code, as it stands, makes it a relatively simple process for an American citizen to get a green card for their foreign-born spouse.

Where this may change is in rights for same-sex couples. There has been a recent wave in gay marriage legislation, culminating with the Supreme Court’s review of the Defense of Marriage Act. However, the law as it stands now prevents this preferential treatment for same-sex couples, making it very difficult for immigrants in these relationships to be able to stay with their families. This may change. Although DOMA remains the law of the land, there is a debate in the Senate regarding the expansion of rights of these couples. The Senate is exploring allowing anyone in a “permanent relationship” to petition for a Green Card for their partner, which would allow them to live, work, and adopt children. This would have wide-ranging effects, and would allow immigrants in same-sex relationships to stay with their families, regardless of the outcome of legislative and judicial fights across the country.

This provision is by no means assured. The immigration bill is proving to be extremely contentious already, and legislators are reluctant to add in the additional issue of same-sex marriage. It is also possible that, pending the outcome of the Supreme Court deliberations, it will no longer be an issue by the time the bill is ultimately passed. However, if this is able to make it into the final draft of the bill, and the bill is ultimately passed, it would constitute a huge development in both immigration and marriage law.

Whether you are an immigrant or have lived in Pittsburgh forever, contact our office today to discuss your specific family law matter with our experienced team of family lawyers!