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DOMA Ruling Means Big Change for Same-Sex Couples & Immigration Laws


In the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), same-sex couples throughout the nation who are – or are soon to be – legally married have as many reasons to be thrilled as they do to be inquisitive. For one, such a profound decision means big changes not only for civil justice, but also for a variety of legal areas.

With the overturning of DOMA – a legislative act that barred legally married same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits – legally married same-sex couples across Texas and the United will now have the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples. Currently, the U.S. government has established more than 1,000 statutes and provisions that involve the condition of marriage. Some of these provisions and laws provide married couples with benefits such as joint income taxes, medical and family leave, and Social Security. One of the most significant benefits – and one not without its fair share of controversy – is married individuals' right to sponsor their spouse for immigration benefits.

Same-Sex Couples & Immigration Rights

The death of DOMA is a landmark decision sure to impact thousands of families. It takes sexual orientation entirely out of the equation when it comes to marriage and the many benefits inherent to marital union. When it comes to immigration, marriage arises in many ways. From the student who wishes to bring their spouse to America while they study to the business investor who wants his family to remain together to the U.S. citizen who wants to petition for their husband or wife to become a citizen as well, marriage permeates numerous immigration actions.

As the battle for immigration reform rages on, the Supreme Court's decision on DOMA comes at a pivotal, albeit coincidental, time. While appeals are possible, the general consensus is that the overturning of DOMA will stand. As such, immigration agencies will have to now adapt to new laws and to the fact that eligible same-sex couples will be entitled to various immigration benefits. On a positive note, the DHS announced that they will begin working on implementing the DOMA ruling for same-sex couples and immigration actions. For the many families who have waited years for a green card or citizenship and for the many more who have been forced to separate or live abroad, the pledge from DHS is well-received.

Of course, challenges and hurdles still lie ahead. In order to qualify for immigration benefits, same-sex couples must have proof that they hold a legal marriage in a country or state that recognizes same-sex marriage. This poses problems not only to the legally married couples who may have difficulty supplying all the necessary evidence that proves a marriage – such a tax returns and other joint legal documents – but also to the same-sex couples who are not technically married.

In a Department of Homeland Security statement released yesterday, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano expressed her support for equal rights and her belief that only time will tell how immigration agencies will handle the issue of same-sex couples and immigration rights. In particular, she highlighted the fact that there are difficulties in proving legal marriage and that there are no provisions that provide immigration benefits to same-sex couples who do not have a legal marriage. She furthered this point by illustrating that some same-sex couples or foreign nationals may even face danger by openly expressing their sexual orientation through marriage in countries far less tolerant than America.

Learn More About Your Rights From a Firm That Stands Tall for Equality

At Mather Law Offices, our Dallas immigration attorneys know that there is equality in justice and that marriage equality is not outside the realm of immigration law. As a practice founded on the believe that every client deserves the best possible representation regardless of their race, sexual orientation, or religion, our firm is here to serve any and all who reach out for help. If you are interested in learning more about the DOMA ruling's impact on immigration laws for same-sex couples, contact Mathur Law Offices, P.C. today.