The 2011 bill was introduced by U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York on March 16, 2011, and had 108 original cosponsors. A U.S. Senate version was introduced by Dianne Feinstein of California on the same day and had 18 original cosponsors.
Paul Schindler with Gay City News:
It what appears to be the first such action of its type, an Immigration Judge in Manhattan has adjourned deportation proceedings for the Argentine lesbian spouse of an American citizen to allow the couple to proceed with their application to have their marriage recognized for purposes of federal immigration law.
Monica Alcota, 35, who came to the US a decade ago, married her partner of nearly three years, 25-year-old Cristina Ojeda, last August in Connecticut.
The couple’s attorneys, Lavi Soloway and Noemi Masliah, argue that their clients’ marital status should qualify Alcota for permanent residency, as would be the case with any different-sex couple.
A 2010 US court ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act’s denial of federal recognition for legal same-sex marriages, they say –– coupled with the Justice Department’s recent decision that it could not and would not defend DOMA’s constitutionality on that point –– opens up the real possibility that Alcota and Ojeda may be accorded recognition.
In a March 22 hearing in the US courthouse at 26 Federal Plaza in Lower Manhattan, Immigration Judge Terry A. Bain gave the couple the go-ahead to press their claim with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) –– a unit of the Department of Homeland Security –– through what is known as Form I-130, a petition to have Alcota recognized as “the spouse of USC.”
For now, the couple’s case has been adjourned until December, a decision supported by the government's attorney.
“It is almost impossible to overstate the significance of what happened in there,” Soloway said immediately after the hearing. “An adjournment based on an I-130. It would never have happened a year ago. I don’t think I even would have filed it.”
Describing the development as “huge,” Soloway also credited Bain with being “very kind, very generous” in her handling of the case.
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) is fighting for the rights of bi-national gay and lesbian couples who could otherwise be torn apart by deportation proceedings. Nadler Communication Director Ilan Kayatsky told Raw Story Wednesday that the congressman was planning on re-introducing the Uniting American Families Act -- legislation that aims to provide immigration equality to bi-national same sex couples.
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) is fighting for the rights of bi-national gay and lesbian couples who could otherwise be torn apart by deportation proceedings.
Nadler Communication Director Ilan Kayatsky told Raw Story Wednesday that the congressman was planning on re-introducing the Uniting American Families Act -- legislation that aims to provide immigration equality to bi-national same sex couples.
News of Nadler's plan comes a day after Immigration Judge Terry A. Bain halted deportation proceedings against Monica Alcota, a citizen of Argentina, while her wife, Cristina Ojeda, moves forward with a green card petition on her behalf.
It was the first time a married same sex couple had successfully argued that a pending deportation should be halted based on the Obama administration's decision to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
"In light of these developments, Judge Bain's decision to stop deportation proceedings and allow Monica Alcota and Cristina Ojeda to seek recognition of their marriage was the right, necessary, and just thing to do," Nadler said Wednesday.
"Our immigration laws protect families by allowing spouses of United States citizens to remain in the country. No family or committed couple should be needlessly torn apart while we work to bring a final end to this shameful law," he added.
Kayatsky said that Nadler had been introducing related legislation for over ten years.
"He got interested a while back when he found out about and met couples who fell into that category -- one partner was from another country and because they were barred from being legally married, they could not sponsor the foreign partner for immigration purposes just like straight couples can," he explained.
"It struck him as a gratuitously cruel and unnecessary part immigration law -- something that probably wasn't foreseen when the immigration laws were being drafted and that really served no purpose in federal law. It simply discriminated against gay and lesbian couples and punished families and committed couples, which is precisely the opposite of how federal law should be envisioned."
With the administration's decision to no longer defend DOMA, Nadler anticipates even more challenges to deportation proceedings, Kayatsky said.
"There's a big chink in the wall now that the court has declared DOMA is unconstitutional and the Department of Justice has agreed," he continued.
"For the congressman and for people on this side, it's really disappointing that Republican leaders of the House rushed into the matter, announcing their intention to defend DOMA in court... and they did so without really taking a fresh look at the facts," Kayatsky added.
Nadler has already re-introduced the Respect for Marriage Act -- to completely undo DOMA. Kayatsky expected him to re-introduce the Uniting American Families Act "soon."
Next, on the 24th of March, we learned that supporters of repealing the Defense of Marriage Act are calling on the Senate to hold hearings on the impact the denial of the federal benefits and responsibilities of marriage is having on married same-sex couples throughout the United States.
All of this is a lot to take in as it has all happened in the last few weeks. Right now we need to keep the momentum going. If you do not know how, I will post links at the bottom of this page of who to contact for information on how you can become involved in making our voices heard in Congress. Let's Get this DONE!!
GLAA - Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance