Immigration reform and the DOMA decision

June 26th was a momentous date for the gay and lesbian community all over the United States, with the Supreme Court shutting down the Defense of Marriage Act – but what are the consequences of that decision for citizens of the United States who are hoping to get green cards for partners who were born overseas?

The Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy, has been a long-time supporter of equal rights in marriage, and has been under a considerable amount of pressure to put an amendment into the immigration bill that would ensure that the LBGT community had similar access to green cards, the New Yorker says.  However, around half of the “Gang of Eight” had threatened to withdraw support should such an amendment be added.

Proponents of the amendment have been urging Leahy to hold off until after the Supreme Court had made their decision, rather than risk pitting two minority groups against one another in the fight for US immigration reform.  “If we do this right, we can portray this as not necessary,” Senator John McCain had pointed out.  “If the Supreme Court throws out DOMA, then those rights are gonna be there.”

The argument now seems to have been valid, with the Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, pledging in a statement made on June 26th that all married couples are to have equal rights in immigration reform following the strike down of DOMA.