DOMA’s Downfall, LGBT’s Triumphs
By Romeo Morales
They used to be the whipping boy of the anti-immigration group, but when families of the millions of undocumented immigrants stood up for what they believed in, they sent President Barack Obama to the oval office for a another term.
Finally, reality sets in that unless this group ceases in making life miserable for the 11 million or so undocumented immigrants, including the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and stops depriving them of the respect and protection under the law, they would never regain the White House again.
Enough that a wall had been built that no one can climb, enough that families and their loved ones are separated, enough that draconian state laws have been enacted making immigrants and their families cower in fear, and enough that with their hardline stance on immigration pushes many to continue living in the dark. Today as more than any other day, the two opposing parties in Congress come together, irrespective of what they believe in, crafting a workable solution to the broken immigration problem. It is an unprecedented move in more than a few decades of seemingly an endless partisanship and non-action in both the House and the Senate in tackling the nation’s immigration problem.
But those responsible for what is taking place now in the immigration divide should never be left behind. Aside from the immigration and rights activists, the gay, the lesbian, the bisexual and the transgender have also a hand in making all of these developments possible. They protest, they hob-knob with the powers that be, they lobby and are still fighting for it up to this writing for what is right and just for everyone.
Even when more and more states are now recognizing same-sex marriages, for immigration purposes, their marriages do not hold water. Under the current law, same-sex marriage cannot petition their foreign-born partner, nor can they go with them to the U.S. on the basis of a family or employment-based petition. In removal proceedings, same-sex couple cannot use their marriage as a basis for securing relief from deportation when their foreign-born spouse is arrested for immigration violation.
The Defense of Marriage Act that was passed into law in 1996 is the stumbling block to the same-sex marriages in enjoying the benefits that accrue normally to straight married couples. The DOMA as it is known defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman. Same-sex marriages wouldn’t fit into this definition.
The stand-alone bill of Uniting American Families Act by Representative Jerold Nadler in the House and the sponsorship of Patrick Leahy in the Senate could provide doors to foreign-born spouses of U.S. citizen of same-sex marriages. An amendment to the immigration bill of the cause of the LGBT would greatly help, but if the sponsors succumbed to the pressure of the antis and withdrew their support, then it would be a lonely day for the LGBT. The remaining hope would only be the Supreme Court who holds the key to their victory.
Until such time that the Supreme Court decides to strike down Section 3 of DOMA as unconstitutional and to act fast, the Uniting American Families Act may not be needed anymore even if enacted into law and that the proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill for a far-reaching solution to the broken immigration system would become moot and academic as there would be no more bar for the gay and lesbian couples enjoying the immigration benefits that have eluded them for so long.
It is good news that the plight of the LGBT is being considered in the overhauling of the immigration system. They should be! They, too, deserve to be considered. No one should be thrown under the bus anymore. No one should be left behind.