This is a case about the immigration consequences of a same-sex marriage between a U.S. citizen and an alien -- here, a citizen of Indonesia.
The Indonesian citizen, apparently facing removal proceedings, was the subject of a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) decision against him. There seem not to be any publicly available documents that clarify the grounds of that decision. But in any event, prior to the appeal of the adverse BIA decision to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (which was filed in July 2, 2009, under appeal number 09-72068), the couple married in Massachusetts on April 9, 2009. On the same day, the U.S. citizen filed an I-130 petition on behalf of the Indonesian citizen with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) California Service Center. The petition sought permission for the Indonesian citizen to immigrate, as an immediate relative of the U.S. citizen. On August 28, 2009, USCIS denied that I-130 petition; plaintiff appealed to the BIA. (The earlier 9th Circuit appeal was stayed, while the BIA considered the matter.) On January 20, 2011, the BIA dismissed Plaintiffs' appeal of the I-130 Petition Denial.
Plaintiffs then brought this case in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, claiming that the U.S.'s refusal to grant the Petition on the basis of Plaintiffs' same-sex marriage constitutes sex discrimination in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) anti-discrimination provision, 8 U.S.C. § 1152(a)(1)(A), and that Defendants' application of definition of marriage from the federal Defense of Marriage Act, in making the determination that a same-sex spouse is not an "immediate relative" for I-130 petition purposes, violated their constitutional due process and equal protection rights.
The U.S. opposed the suit, taking the position that refusal to credit the validity of same-sex marriages did not violate the INA. However, because the Obama administration had previously announced that it would enforce but not defend the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the "Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group" (BLAG) appeared for the U.S. House of Representatives as an intervenor, and filed its opposition to Plaintiffs' constitutional challenge to DOMA.
On September 28, 2011, the District Court (Stephen Wilson, J.) rejected the plaintiffs' claims and dismissed the suit, without prejudice. The court held that it was bound by the 9th Circuit precedent of Adams v. Howerton, 673 F.2d 1036 (9th Cir. 1982), which also involved an I-130 immediate relative petition filed by a party to a same-sex marriage. Under that case, the court explained, federal disregard of a same-sex marriage did not constitute an Equal Protection Clause violation. In addition, the court rejected the idea that such disregard amounted to sex, rather than sexual orientation, discrimination.
Plaintiffs filed a motion to amend their complaint on October 14, 2011, but rather than permitting the amendment, the court informed the plaintiffs (on November 3, 2011) that they could freely file a new complaint, instead.
Both BLAG and the U.S. appealed (these appeals were given the numbers 11-57072 and 11-57166, respectively), but both soon voluntarily dismissed their appeals, in February 2012. That left in place the 2009 appeal by the Indonesian citizen, from the adverse BIA decision (Appeal No. 09-72068). BLAG filed a notice that it will not appear in the case, so it seems it did not raise the same-sex marriage issue. The Indonesian citizen asked for a remand to the BIA in that matter, but in 2012 voluntarily dismissed the appeal. Nadji Allan - 10/23/2014