This is a constitutional challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), 1 U.S.C. § 7, as it applies to the immigration rights of lesbian and gay bi-national couples. It was filed on April 2, 2012, by five such couples, each lawfully married in South Africa, Vermont, New York, or ...
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This is a constitutional challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), 1 U.S.C. § 7, as it applies to the immigration rights of lesbian and gay bi-national couples. It was filed on April 2, 2012, by five such couples, each lawfully married in South Africa, Vermont, New York, or Connecticut, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Represented by Immigration Equality and private pro bono counsel, plaintiffs sued the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS -- a component agency of DHS), seeking to compel recognition of their same-sex marriages and non-discriminatory adjudication of marriage-based immigrant benefits.
Under DOMA, marriage "means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife." 1 U.S.C. § 7. In each of the plaintiff couples, one spouse is American and the other foreign; if the marriage were not same-sex, the American spouse could petition for an immigrant visa for the foreign spouse and place the foreign spouse on the path to lawful permanent residence and citizenship. However, following DOMA's direction, USCIS has denied plaintiffs those immigration benefits. Plaintiffs argue that this denial is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause, constituting discrimination on account of both sexual orientation and sex.
The Obama administration has announced that in its view, DOMA is unconstitutional and has therefore declined to defend it in court (although the federal government continues to enforce the statute). Accordingly, a "Bipartizan Legal Advisory Group" (BLAG) has been appointed by the (Republican) House of Representatives to appear in cases like this one and defend the constitutionality of DOMA. BLAG filed papers in this case on May 31, 2012.
On July 25, 2012, the district court (Judge Amon) stayed proceedings in the case--including immigration enforcement against any of the plaintiffs--pending the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Windsor v. United States, No. 12 CV 2335 (2d Cir), a case already pending on appeal similarly challenging the constitutionality of DOMA. (PB-NY-0017
in the Clearinghouse.) Since the government had declined to stay immigration enforcement, this was reported as a small victory by the plaintiffs.
On July 8, 2013, following the Supreme Court's decision in Windsor
, BLAG withdrew as intevenor-defendant. On August 26, 2013, after the Plaintiffs' notice of voluntary dismissal, the Court dismissed the case without prejudice. - 07/31/2012
Claire Lally - 02/22/2015