Freedom to Marry signs onto letter in support of binational same-sex couples

Today, Freedom to Marry joined with Immigration Equality and more than 50 other LGBT and immigration organizations in signing a letter to the White House asking President Barack Obama to put immigration cases involving binational same-sex couples on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court announces its rulling on the freedom to marry. 

On Friday, the Supreme Court announced that it has agreed to hear Windsor v. United States, a legal challenge to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which federally restricts marriage to different-sex couples. Because of DOMA, same-sex couples in lawful marriages are deprived of over 1,100 protections and responsibilities of marriage. For example, DOMA prohibits gay and lesbian Americans from sponsoring their same-sex partners for immigration purposes. The process of obtaining a green card is typically routine and easy for binational different-sex married couples. But for binational same-sex couples, the process is very challenging, all because DOMA denies federal respect to lawful marriages.

Heather Morgan and Maria del Mar Verdugo, pictured, are one of the many binational same-sex couples affected by DOMA. Maria is a citizen of Spain currently living in Manhattan with Heather. The women married two years ago, and Maria currently holds a work visa. But if she were to lose her job, she'd also lose her work visa, set to expire in 2013. You can read their full story HERE.  

The letter Freedom to Marry signed onto today urges the White House to put holds on all immigration cases related to binational same-sex couples until the Supreme Court settles the matter of DOMA in 2013. The letter says, in part (read the full letter here):

We write today to urge the Administration to hold in abeyance applications for lawful permanent residencethat would be approvable but for DOMA. Of the many legal areas affected by DOMA, there are few withconsequences as harsh as in the area of immigration law. With no ability to apply for family-basedimmigration benefits because of DOMA, many foreign nationals face the untenable choice of falling out of status in the U.S., thereby accruing unlawful presence and facing the daily fear of deportation, or of leavingthe U.S. and their family behind. We understand the Administration's commitment to continue enforcing DOMA, but this commitment does not require that such applications be denied; instead we urge theAdministration to take a middle path and hold marriage-based applications until the Supreme Court makesa final determination about the constitutionality of DOMA. [...]

With the Supreme Court's decision to rule on DOMA's constitutionality, we will know by next June whether or not applications for lawful permanent residence for lesbian and gay spouses will ultimately beapprovable. Therefore, we are only asking that, in the interim, these applications be held for a period of a few months. Doing so will prevent extreme hardship to lesbian and gay immigrant families. By holding applications for lawful permanent residence in abeyance - neither granting them nor denying them - LGBT families can remain securely together in the U.S. until the Supreme Court issues its ruling next year.

You can learn more about the so-called Defense of Marriage Act HERE, and see more than a dozen loving couples affected by the discriminatory law. 

(Photo by Reuters