Supreme Court Strikes Down DOMA
By Jennie Guilfoyle and Susan Schreiber
On June 26, 2013 the Supreme Court issued a decision in United States v. Windsor finding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. Under DOMA, marriage was defined to exclude same-sex spouses for purposes of qualifying for rights and benefits under federal law. For this reason, lawfully married same-sex couples were ineligible for immigration benefits, including filing petitions for same sex spouses. As a result of the Supreme Court decision, legally married same-sex spouses will no longer be barred from qualifying as spouses under immigration law. Currently thirteen states (CA, CT, DE, IA, MA, MD, ME, MN, NH, NY, RI, VT, WA) and the District of Columbia., as well as fifteen countries, allow same-sex marriage.
Impact on Immigration Benefits
This decision has consequences for every aspect of immigration law in which a marital relationship has significance. These include:
Relief from Removal
In a statement issued after the ruling, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said that DHS will work with federal partners, including the Department of Justice, to "implement today's decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of our immigration laws."
Since the ruling, CIS has issued FAQs regarding implementation of the Supreme Court decision. CIS is now adjudicating same-sex marriage I-130 petitions and has already approved some petitions as well as applications for adjustment of status.