The Supreme Court ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act will allow a citizen in a same-sex married couple to sponsor their non-citizen spouse. Bradford Wells, left, and Anthony John Makk are a binational couple and pose together at their home in San Francisco. (AP Photo/San Francisco Chronicle, Michael Macor, File)

Supreme Court ruling opens pathway for binational couples on immigration

The Supreme Court ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act will allow a citizen in a same-sex married couple to sponsor their non-citizen spouse, thus clearing a path which had long been advocated by LGBT as well as immigrants rights activists.

“If same-sex marriage is valid in the state in which it was performed, then a person can file  for their non-US citizen spouse, since the Justices ruled same-sex married couples are eligible for federal benefits,” explains Enid Trucios-Haynes an immigration law expert and professor at the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Kentucky-Louisville.

Francisco Dueñas, national Proyecto Igualdad Coordinator at LAMBDA Legal working on Latino advocacy, says that “now that marriage benefits are constitutional, states can’t offer “marriage lite” and deny couples any federal benefits now available to married couples of the opposite sex.”

The ruling is significant as Congress debates an immigration reform bill.  Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy tried to introduce an amendment into the immigration bill that would have given same-sex couples the right to sponsor their partner.  The Supreme Court has done the work for them, since  married same-sex couples now have a legal right to sponsor their non-citizen husbands and wives.

“This Supreme Court decision affirms that all families and individuals should be treated fairly and with justice,” said a statement by United We Dream Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project Coordinator Jorge Gutierrez. For DREAMers and immigration activists like Jose Antonio Vargas, the SCOTUS ruling is a big victory, though Vargas had a little fun with it today.

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