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 and citizenship 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 every day, 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.