DOMA Overturned, What This Could Mean for Immigrants

international student voice magazine doma
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On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of the United States said the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates equal protection for all U.S. citizens. This may have an impact on immigration reform in the country.

In 1996 DOMA was a federal rule passed saying that all marriages in the country only meant a marriage between one man and one woman. Since then, certain states have passed laws allowing same-sex couples to legally marry, but that still didn’t mean the couples could receive federal marriage benefits.

There are different levels of law in the U.S. There are local, state, and federal laws. Federal is the highest,  meaning this law is enforced throughout the entire United States and has more authority over local and state laws. So this means even if same-sex couples could legally marry in a state, that marriage wasn’t recognized on a federal level. 

The Supreme Court ruled that DOMA violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection guarantee. This means same-sex couples will now be entitled to the same federal benefits as opposite-sex couples. One of those benefits falls under immigration.

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States. The court consists of nine justices and this court takes judicial precedence over all other courts in the country. In other words, this court has the final say! 

There is an estimated 36,000 binational same-sex couples in the U.S. and many partners are forced to live outside the country because, under DOMA, gay Americans were not allowed to sponsor their husbands and wives for citizenship. Even if they had been married in a state where same-sex marriage is legal. Like we said, federal law is above state law.

Now that DOMA has been overturned, this means as part of immigration reform being discussed same-sex couples could sponsor their significant others for U.S. citizenship.

Currently, 13 states recognize same-sex marriage: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.

international student voice magazine same sex marriage map

Our View:

A lot of work still needs to be done regarding immigration reform in the United States, but now that DOMA has been overturned politicians can not ignore same-sex couples while discussing the future of immigration. But we have to see what happens. Immigration is a very hot topic and very controversial. Adding same-sex marriage will probably only heat up the debate. But today’s ruling is a step in the right direction to make sure everyone is treated fairly, regardless of background, skin color, sexual orientation, the list goes on. The U.S. is where no matter who you are or where you’re from, you can live free and be who you want to be.

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