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NEW YORK — Five gay couples on Monday filed suit in the Eastern District of New York, challenging Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prevents lesbian and gay American citizens from sponsoring their spouses for green cards.
The lawsuit, filed on the couples’ behalf by Immigration Equality, alleges that DOMA violates the couples’ constitutional right to equal protection.
“Solely because of DOMA and its unconstitutional discrimination against same-sex couples,” the lawsuit states, “these Plaintiffs are being denied the immigration rights afforded to other similarly situated binational couples.”
Were the Plaintiffs opposite-sex couples, the suit says, “the federal government would recognize the foreign spouse as an ‘immediate relative’ of a United States citizen, thereby allowing the American spouse to petition for an immigrant visa for the foreign spouse, and place [them] on the path to lawful permanent residence and citizenship.”
The five couples named in the suit are:
“The families in today’s lawsuit meet every qualification for immigration benefits, with the sole exception that they happen to be lesbian or gay,” said Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality.
“Solely because of their sexual orientation, they have been singled out, under federal law, for discrimination and separation. That’s not only unconscionable; it is unconstitutional. We know DOMA cannot withstand careful review, and we know we will prevail on their behalf,” said Tiven.
Since then, the Republican-led U.S. House has intervened in a dozen cases to defend DOMA in court — former Solicitor General Paul Clement is currently arguing the DOMA cases on behalf of the House on a $1.5 million contract.
House Minority Leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi on Friday criticized the House intervention in the case of Cooper-Harris vs. U.S., in which an army veteran and her same-sex spouse are challenging the denial of VA spousal disability benefits.
A recent analysis from the Williams Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles estimated 36,000 couples — and the nearly 25,000 children being raised by them — are impacted by the United States’ refusal to recognize lesbian and gay relationships for immigration purposes.