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France: Gay French-Moroccan Couple Wins Right to Marry

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

First_France_Gay_Marriage_Montpellier_7A little-known provision in France’s marriage laws has prevented some same-sex couples in the country for marrying, when one of the partners comes from a certain country. At least one of those couples has now won the right to marry.

Gay Star News reports:

For when France legalized same-sex marriage in May, agreements we brought up from decades ago banning any ex-patriots from 11 countries marrying under the new law. In the court case held today, the prosecution used an agreement from 1981 between Morocco and France banning gay marriage between the two countries. They claimed international conventions have a higher authority under the French Constitution than the ‘Marriage for All’ law passed this year. The defense however implored the marriage law was changed for the ‘French international public policy’ – effectively excluding that French-Moroccan agreement. With the agreement being overturned, this sets a precedent giving hope to all binational gay couples living in France.

Congratulations to the happy couple, and to all other binational couples who now may be able to marry in France.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in France.

USA: Kerry Says Married Binational Same Sex Couples Officially Eligible for Visas

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

US Secretary of State John KerryIt’s official – binational same sex couples now have a way to avoid deportation once and for all. Just get married. The Advocate reports:

Following the lead of the Department of Homeland Security, Secretary of State John Kerry announced Friday that the U.S. State Department will immediately begin offering visas to married same-sex couples in the same fashion it does to married opposite-sex couples. Kerry made the announcement at the U.S. Embassy in London Friday morning, citing the recent landmark rulings from the Supreme Court in support of marriage equality. “One of our most important exports by far is America’s belief in the equality of all people,” said Kerry. “Now, our history shows that we haven’t always gotten it right.”

It’s refreshing to see something so devastating to so many couples finally settled definitively in their favor, isn’t it?

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USA: Binational Couples Flooding Immigration Offices

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Gay WeddingNow that married binational same sex couples can now request a green-card for the foreign-born partner, these couples are flooding into immigration offices around the country. McClatchy reports:

Same-sex couples have been flooding [immigration attorney Cara] Jobson’s office since Wednesday with requests for help applying for a green card for a foreign spouse, she said. Kirkbride and Kurzatkowska filed their papers Friday. The process includes filling out forms, getting a medical exam for the spouse applying for the green card, and showing that the foreign spouse won’t be a financial burden to the U.S., Jobson said. The foreign spouse also has to prove that he or she entered the country legally. Then, in about three months, the couple is called in for an interview, in which they have to show that they have a “bona fide” marriage, in that they share finances, or insurance, or children. If approved, the foreign spouse will soon receive a green card in the mail. After three years, the green card holder can apply for U.S. citizenship, as long as the couple is still married and living together.

I can only imagine the immense relief of these couples at the decision, and the frustration and anger that it took so long to get here.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

USA: Binational Same Sex Couples Can Now Get Green Cards

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

DOMA OverNow that the US Supreme Court has struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, American citizens can sponsor their same-sex partners from other countries for a green card and eventually for citizenship. Joe.My.God reports:

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling striking down a core provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), lesbian and gay Americans will now be eligible to apply for green cards on behalf of their foreign national spouses, the organization Immigration Equality announced today. The court ruled today, in United States v. Windsor, that Section 3 of DOMA, which prohibited the federal government from conferring benefits to married same-sex couples, is unconstitutional. That provision of the law made it impossible for lesbian and gay couples to receive immigration benefits, including green cards.

While this is certain to be a relief for many couples, it doesn’t undo the damage the policy has done in the past to so many binational couples.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

New Video Hilights Heartbreaking Story of Binational Gay Couple Separated by DOMA

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Tim & JamieThousands of binational gay and lesbian couples are either living apart or in danger of being separated because of Defense of Marriage Act. Towleroad.com has the heartbreaking story of one such couple:

Meet Tim and Jamie. They’ve been together since August 2006. They got married in June 2012. But in June 2009 they had their first inkling that their international love would be tested: Jamie, a native of Scotland, was detained at SeaTac Airport due to visa problems and was denied the right to call Tim. Now, Jamie and Tim’s marriage in Canada cannot be recognized legally in the United States because of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.

It’s time for DOMA to go. Let’s hope the Supreme Court sees things the same way.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

USA: Senator Leahy Files Amendment to Immigration Bill to Help Binational Couples

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Vermont Senator Patrick LeahyIn a move that was expected (and widely expected to fail), Democratic senator Pat Leahy put forth an amendment to the immigration bill that would allow an American citizen to sponsor his or her foreign same sex partner. Think Progress reports:

On Tuesday, Leahy tried to rectify that problem after the bill was approved for debate. His new amendment, which will be voted on by the whole of the Senate, would ensure that same-sex couples in legal marriages are considered as a family unit in immigration proceedings. Should the amendment be adopted, it will allow, for example, a gay American man to sponsor his non-native born spouse for citizenship.

The GOP is pretty much uniformly opposed to the idea, so it will likely go nowhere. Let’s hope the Supremes save the Democrats’ bacon on this one.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

USA: Immigration Reform Bill to Move Out of Senate Committee Without Provision for Binational Same Sex Couples

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

CongressAs many suspected, the immigration reform bill will move ahead without provisions to allow american citizens to sponsor their same sex spouses. The Washington Blade reports:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced on Tuesday that he’ll withhold amendments to include gay couples as part immigration reform after tearful speeches from Senate Democrats on the panel who said they couldn’t support the measures. After an extended speech on why he believes discrimination against gay couples is wrong — Leahy said “with a heavy heart” he wouldn’t introduce the amendments before the committee — which would make bi-national same-sex couples equal under the law to straight couples for immigration purposes.

Democrats on the panel ultimately torpedoed the amendment:

Democrats who are known for being LGBT rights supporters — Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) — said they were torn on the issue, but couldn’t support the amendments out of fear they would lose Republican support and it would kill the legislative package. Feinstein said the Supreme Court, which is currently considering the constitutionality of DOMA, may make the issue “moot” because a ruling against the anti-gay law in June would end discrimination against married bi-national couples.

As a practical matter, I almost understand this. But OTOH, this move may just embolden the GOP to push for even more concessions. I still say it should have been included in the bill from the get-go – make them take it out instead of try to get it added in. But the Democrats never were very good at negotiating.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

USA: Democrats Reluctant to Include Gay/Lesbian Binational Couples in Immigration Bill

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

Congress - Capitol BuildingSenate Democrats are considering offering an amendment to include gay and lesbian binational couples to the immigration reform bill on the floor instead of in committee. The Washington Blade explains:

Late Thursday, Politico reported that Democrats are asking the White House to tell Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to withhold amendments for bi-national same-sex couples until the larger measure reaches the Senate floor — where passage will likely be more difficult. “They’re increasingly uneasy about risking Republican support but reluctant to tell gay rights advocates that an amendment allowing American citizens to seek green cards for their same-sex foreign partners may not get a vote in the Judiciary Committee,” Politico reported. Concern over the amendments follows remarks from Republican Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — as well as comments from Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to the Washington Blade — that including the pro-gay language would kill immigration reform.

Their mistake was to not include it in the original bill, where it would have been much harder to strip out. Senate Dems must be hoping the US Supreme Court will step in with their DOMA decision and take this decision off their hands.

USA: Senator Leahy to Amend Immigration Bill to Add Binational Gay Couples

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

US CongressThe immigration reform bill introduced by the Senate “Gang of 8” was lacking a provision to allow US citizens to sponsor their same sex partners. Now one Senator is trying to amend the bill to rectify the issue. The Washington Blade reports:

The lead sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act in the Senate has announced that he’ll introduce the legislation as a committee amendment to comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said in a statement on Tuesday that he filed the measure — which would enable gay Americans to sponsor their foreign partners for residency in the United States — along with several other amendments before the committee for the immigration bill.

What happens next?

All committee amendments to comprehensive immigration reform are due at 5 p.m. The committee is scheduled to vote Friday on the first round of amendments. Subsequent votes are slated for May 14, May 16, May 20 and every day that follows until there’s a final vote on the bill. Chances are the amendments for gay inclusion will come up on one of these later days.

It’s time we took action to keep binational gay and lesbian couples from being forced apart by the INS.

USA: President Obama Wants Immigration Bill to Include Binational Gay Couples

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

President Barack ObamaPresident Obama stepped into the immigration reform controversy around binational couples today. Pink News reports:

US President Barack Obama has said that he thinks recognising gay couples in a broad immigration bill currently pending in Congress is “the right thing to do”. The President did not specify whether or not he would sign legislation, if it failed to protect binational gay couples. He said it would be premature to predict what he would do until he is sent a bill by lawmakers. Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Obama commented that it was the “right thing to do”, to include gay couples in the legislation, reports the Associated Press.

Are Senate Democrats listening? Too many gay and lesbian couples are in limbo – it’s time to allow gay and lesbian US citizens to sponsor their husbands and wives for citizenship.