Posted by Sandi on Dec 23, 2010 in GLBT Rights
There is no greater roadblock to marriage equality than the Defense of Marriage Act. Passed in 1996, before any state recognized the right to marriage equality, DOMA does not recognize same-sex marriage on the National level, while allowing states to determine their ownacceptance of same-sex marriages performed in states that recognize this right.
Ann Belser of the Pittsburgh Gazette perfectly outlines the confusion and inconsistency of DOMA, “. . . a couple can get married in Massachusetts, drive to New York where they can’t get married but where the marriage is recognized, then pass through New Jersey where they will be considered ‘civilly united,’ before they hit Pennsylvania where the marriage doesn’t exist at all.”
When a couple gets married and commits to a life together it doesn’t usually include a geographical limitation to where you can or cannot plan your future. What about the individual in a same-sex marriage that gets a job offer in Virginia, where they have a Constitutional Amendment against same-sex marriage? Should “Joe GLBT” not take the job if it means that his legal union would no longer be recognized? DOMA creates extreme limits on an individual’s freedoms to simply work and live.
And what of those relationships that don’t work out? The U.S. has one of the highest divorce rates in the world with 3.4 marriages out of 1,000 ending in divorce according to the CDC. With same-sex couples now getting married in greater numbers, it can be expected that some of these will unfortunately not work out. Thomas W. Ude, Jr., a senior attorney for the Lambda Legal Defense Fund points out that to get a divorce, a member of that couple must be a resident of the state where the marriage is recognized. So if “Joe GLBT” took the job in Virginia and they both moved to Virginia, not only would their marriage not be recognized, but they wouldn’t have the right to suspend their marriage where it is legally documented.
Crossing a border should not limit a person’s basic legal rights to love, work and live.
Posted by Sandi on Nov 14, 2010 in GLBT Rights
You said, “I do” to the words “Do you take ________ to be your lawfully wedded husband/wife.” For many couples simply moving to a state that recognizes same-sex marriage would allow these words to change your life for the better. That marriage certificate gives you the legal rights afforded to any married couple within your state, and even the few other states that also recognize your union, but what if the person you love isn’t from the United States? For many individuals and couples, the road to U.S. citizenship is not easy. Having worked on asylum, residency andcitizenship cases as a paralegal I can tell you it is a long and arduous process for all involved.
For heterosexual couples, marriage to a U.S. citizen gives a non-citizen the ability to apply for and become a citizen, but same-sex unions are not recognized nationally thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act. So that means that even if your marriage is legally recognized within your state, you are prohibited from receiving the Federally accepted legal benefits of marriage – aka. citizenship. Same-sex couples that include a foreign national can’t even enter the immigration process through marriage and have an even larger battle ahead.
Blogger Keith Berner recently, spoke about this issue on Left-Hand View, a local DC regional Blog. His friends, David & Sam struggle with this predicament everyday, since Sam is a Korean National who has been living in the U.S. for years on both student and work visas. For now, he can remain the country with David, but if he loses his job he will need to leave his love or risk deportation.
An acquaintance of mine has already had to make the incredibly hard decision of remaining in the U.S. or leaving to be with his husband. Originally from Colorado, he has been living in Belgium with his husband for the past 3 years where same-sex marriage is legal. He would love to return to the States, but he knows that his husband would not legally be allowed to return with him. Their marriage, while recognized in the many countries in Europe still won’t be accepted in the United States.
No couple should be placed in this difficult position. Love should not be limited.