I don’t usually cover purely political stories on my Unique Estate Law blog, but stories like these are hitting the news far too often to ignore. Today, I’d like to blog about gay marriage and immigration.
In four days, Violeta and Sujey Pando will see their Iowa marriage disintegrate as Sujey is deported by US immigration officials back to Mexico. Even though they were married in a state that considers gay marriage legal because of DOMA, a federal marriage act, their marriage does not carry any weight at a national/international level. Had this been a straight couple, as opposed to a unique family, Sujey would still continue to live in the United States as a married, permanent resident. There have been other cases much like theirs, (one even successfully stalled!!) wherein married couples are asked to separate by US immigration because their marriage was recognized at a state level only. Stop the Deportations covers these cases very thoroughly, in case you desire more information or want to make a donation to their case.
When I first came out, so to speak, against state marriage, I had a lot of people tell me that I should lighten up and not think like a lawyer (even from other lawyers). However, when I read the news it’s very hard to be all that excited about it. The potential loss of domestic partnership benefits, the Byzantine tax laws that will have to be navigated, the fact that I still would have to establish all of the same unique family/non-traditional family documents for business succession planning, estate rollover, and potentially (if married to a foreign national) lose my wife to immigration laws doesn’t exactly make state marriage feel like a real marriage to me.
As long as DOMA is in effect, unique families face will continue to have “second class” marriages even if those marriages are recognized by the states. I urge anyone who cares about this issue to push for a repeal of DOMA and I also urge gay, or any other so-called nontraditional, families to take precautionary, legal, financial measure to protect their partners and family regardless of whether their marriage is recognized by the state they reside in.