Binational same-sex couples hard hit by SCOTUS wait

UPDATE: SCOTUS announced remaining decisions including marriage equality will be released tomorrow – Wednesday.

By Melanie Nathan, June 25, 2013.

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Parties gather and rainbow flag waves as US waits for marriage equality rulings

Every moment counts for those who have not held a partner close – in some cases for years – as SCOTUS has yet to deliver its decision on marriage equality. Today binational same-sex couples are probably more on edge than any other sector of the LGBT community as The Supreme Court has still not issued a decision on DOMA.

LGBT activists gathered around social media, in nail biting communication, waiting for a possible decision that did not come down today. Historically, the most landmark of cases are usually left for the last day that rulings are made public.

As we wait for the Supreme Court of the United States to rule on the Edie Windsor DOMA case, the outcome of the most profoundly horrific impact of marriage inequality is the harsh consequence of The Defense of Marriage Act, (DOMA), that separates same-sex binational partners. It is this group of LGBT people who are hardest pressed for a favorable ruling by SCOTUS in the DOMA case because it may literally mean whether or not some of them are reunited with their partners in the near future and for others it may mean returning to the united States after spending years in exile out of the country, to be with foreign partners.

U.S. gays and lesbians and their foreign partners have lived under heightened stress this month as each possible day for SCOTUS to rule on DOMA passes, leaving just one day left to rule, and that will be Thursday 27th. If no ruling is handed down on Thursday there could be a few added days – though highly unusual.

The decision in DOMA  could shed light on the fate of what is believed to be as many as 100,000 couples, who are either separated from partners, living in or facing exile from the U.S.A., as well as the many undocumented who cannot work or live in fear of being detained and deported.

The Defense of Marriage Act denies same-sex binational couples the same rights as heterosexual couples sponsorship for green cards. Without a favorable ruling that will confirm the unconstitutionality of DOMA, members of lawful same-sex marriages will continue to be denied lawful status or related benefits under the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. Section 1101 et seq. by the Department of Homeland Security solely due to Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, 1 U.S.C. Section 7.

Living through the hellish days of counting has been traumatic for many same-sex couples, especially those who have been separated from their partners, in some instances, for many years.

And now that the UAFA remedy for the plight of binational same-sex couples has been excluded specifically from Comprehensive Immigration Reform, the death of DOMA seems to be for many binationals, as the only possible chance of returning back to live the U.S.A with spouses or in many cases being reunited with their partners.

I asked some of my binational friends impacted by the inequality and the long wait to comment-

Lori Kerkes, a woman from Texas who is married to another woman from Montreal and who has a radio show that deals with the iniquitous law.:

“Should the Supreme court justices render a decision AGAINST our freedom to Marry and sponsor our partners to come live with us here in the USA….. I am afraid I will be forced then to divorce my Country and say my goodbyes until America comes to it’s senses and treats everyone equally under the law! We are awaiting our fate…. 3 more dates to go…. “

Gina Caprio who volunteers for Out 4 immigration:

“As a married same-sex binational couple who are currently being forced to live apart because the Federal government does not recognize our legal union, the continued wait to hear the Supreme Courts decision regarding DOMA has us on pins and needles. Each day that goes by without the announcement of their ruling is another day our lives are put on hold. Our lives and our pursuit of happiness rests in their hands and its agonizing.”

Madison Reed

 “Living through the hell of years experiencing a hateful erasure of my life with my beloved partner, living in continual limbo never knowing whether we’re ultimately going to be doomed with no option but to try to carve out a life in a third world country together – if we can even do that – and bearing the frightening thoughts about what would happen to our lives if SCOTUS doesn’t destroy DOMA and we had to give up on each other – is probably very much like how a terrorized, extremely abused hostage feels. I’m sure it would take a hostage a good while to trust any claim that he has been released from captivity. And there would be lingering fear. This will be the same for me and my partner. I know this country and the heart of haters very well. DOMA’s effects on me and my angel have been awful. It was all masterfully planned.”

Winton Arnold:

Waiting for the decision from SCOTUS feels like I am doing a high-wire act with thousands of others on the wire with me… Our lives dangling while these nine justices sit there” (See article previously written

It seems now we must wait until Thursday and if the landmark rulings for DOMA and the Prop 8 Cases are as we hope, we can only imagine an extraoridinary celebration to follow, including San Francisco Pride, with pre-parties Thursday scheduled in the Castro and Parade this weekend.

Melanie Nathan
[email protected]


Note:-Some cases seeking binational equality are still moving through the lower courts, with some stayed pending the SCOTUS DOMA decision: In the case, Arenas/Deleon, et al. v. Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; et al. Case No. SACV12-1137-JVS(MLGx) (United States District Court for the Central District of California),  filed by  Los Angeles-based Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, a Judge has ruled that a lesbian couple facing immigration discrimination has the legal standing to challenge the federal Defense of Marriage Act, otherwise known as DOMA, because it violates the constitutional rights of immigrants in same-sex marriages.

In this case the Plaintiffs’ attorney Peter Schey, President of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, issued this statement:  “We welcome the court’s decision that DOMA violates the constitutional rights of immigrants in bi-national same-sex marriages.  This will afford maximum protection to class members, particularly those who are low-income and without the means to hire attorneys, and those whose visa applications have already been unconstitutionally denied.  We suspect there will be no further denials of visa applications based on DOMA after this decision is reviewed by DHS headquarters.  We will continue to dedicate our resources to ensure that immigrants in same-sex marriages with U.S. citizens are not detained or deported and are treated humanely pending a final decision by the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of DOMA.”


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4 Comments on “Binational same-sex couples hard hit by SCOTUS wait”

  1. Sherri Gray June 25, 2013 at 8:45 AM #

    this situation is just heartbreaking. i can only imagine the pain these wonderful, courageous folks have endured, day after day, not being allowed to be with the persons they love most. i am an inveterate flag-waver, and have always been patriotic to the max…but when i think of the phrase, “land of the free, and home of the brave…” it saddens me to know that these separated couples have been infinitely brave, but they are certainly not totally free. i feel confident that there are countless numbers of us all over the world who are holding positive thoughts for good news in this situations. hang in there, Dear Friends, you are not alone. with much love, Sherri Gray

  2. jerbearinsantafe June 25, 2013 at 10:03 AM #

    Reblogged this on JerBear's Queer News, Views & Memories and commented:
    Waiting for the Supreme Court to rule is hard on those directly affected.

  3. Lee Dorsey June 25, 2013 at 2:23 PM #

    NO, I believe Justice Roberts has said he will announce the Marriage (and remaining) decisions TOMORROW 10AM. See AFER presser announcement.


  1. USA: On the Eve of the Rulings, Thoughts on Prop 8 and DOMA - June 25, 2013

    […] at O-blog-dee-o-blog-da, our friend Melanie Nathan reminds us that Binational Couples have the most to gain… or lose… […]

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