House Panel Votes to Defend DOMA as Deportations Continue
March 10, 2011
UPDATE 4:15 PM: Some good news for the man facing deportation, Rodrigo Matinez -- he was released by federal immigration officials so that his appeal can be processed.
The House counsel will step in to defend the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act," now that the Obama administration has declared the law unconstitutional and will no longer do so. A five-member House panel made the decision yesterday on a 3-2 party-line vote.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D) slammed Speaker John Boehner (R) and his party for spending money to continue marriage discrimination, instead of focusing on the economy as promised. "Given the complexity and number of cases, this legal challenge would sap hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, if not more, during a time of limited fiscal resources," she said.
Several other House members released a joint statement criticizing the move. Among them is New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D), who is planning on reintroducing a bill to repeal DOMA.
It has been 15 years since Congress enacted DOMA, and the myths and stereotypes used to support its enactment have been shattered. Married gay and lesbian couples pay taxes, serve their communities, struggle to balance work and family, raise children and care for aging parents. Their contributions and needs are no different than anyone else’s. The majority of Americans understand this and now favor extending the time-honored tradition of marriage to loving and committed gay and lesbian couples.
… This action debunks House Republican Leadership’s claim of being the so-called guarantor of states’ rights. House Republican Leaders seem only to favor states’ rights when it suits them ideologically. Rather than recognizing every states’ married couples equally, Section 3 of DOMA refuses to recognize the marriages of gay and lesbian couples from five states and the District of Columbia…
You can read their complete statements here.
Although President Obama is no longer defending DOMA against legal challenges, the government is still enforcing it. One of the most painful consequences of DOMA is suffered by binational gay couples in which Americans can't sponsor their foreign spouses for a green card, even if they've been legally married.
That's exactly the case of Rodrigo Martinez and Edwin Echegoyen. Martinez is facing imminent deportation back to his native El Salvador – he turned himself in to federal authorities yesterday. You can watch an interview with the couple in this news report (the reporter mistakenly says the Obama administration is no longer enforcing DOMA):
In order to save other gay couples from the terrible prospect of being torn apart, the group Immigration Equality is gathering plaintiffs to mount a new legal challenge against DOMA with a focus on this pressing issue.