US citizens who married foreign nationals of the same sex, were prevented from sponsoring their same sex partners for lawful status in America and they were unable to bring their partners to the United States. The Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA, prevented married same-sex couples from obtaining federal benefits including immigration benefits and it also prevented the federal government from recognizing such marriages. But the Supreme court has now agreed that the restrictions of this Act, violate the Constitution and the court has overturned DOMA. According to the Supreme Court’s decision, these marriages will be recognized for immigration purposes. The Senate immigration reform bill does not include provisions for same sex couples and the Republicans stated that they would oppose immigration reform if provisions for these couples are added to the bill.
DOMA is said to be a discriminatory act as it prevented married same sex couples from obtaining important federal benefits. As the Supreme Court has struck down the section of DOMA, that denied federal benefits for same sex couples, same sex couples will now be granted access to all the federal benefits. US citizens who were prevented from petitioning for their same sex partners can now sponsor their partners of the same sex, for US Green Cards. Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security, Napolitano stated that the USCIS will accept the immigration petitions filed by the US citizens on behalf of their same sex partners, just like the petitions of the other heterosexual couples. She stated that the same sex couples will be treated equally and they will not be denied immigration benefits.
According to Immigration Equality, there are more than 36,000 same sex bi-national couples in the United States and these couples can now start filing applications to sponsor their foreign partners for US Green Cards. Senator Patrick Leahy, proposed the same sex amendment and he wanted to add that amendment to the Senate immigration reform bill. Many believed that the inclusion of same-sex couples in the Senate immigration reform bill would derail immigration reform. But now, such an amendment will not be necessary as the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of same sex marriages and has struck down DOMA.