While the gay community can be heartened by the fact that President
Obama publicly approved of gay marriage in May 2012 and that his
administration has vowed not to fight legal challenges to the Defense
of Marriage Act (DOMA), bi-national, same-sex couples still face
unequal treatment under the law thanks to the continued existence of
DOMA as federal policy.
Because of DOMA, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
can't legally recognize same-sex marriages... even for couples married
where same-sex marriage is legal. While marriage is one of the few
reliable paths to citizenship for most immigrants, that's just not the
case for gay couples.
Reason TV profiled Hope Hall, a U.S. Navy veteran, and her partner
Nathalie Gaulthier, a Canadian immigrant who's lived and worked in the
United States for 17 years. That Gaulthier, a wildly successfully
entrepreneur who runs an internationally acclaimed circus arts school
in Los Angeles, can't obtain her green card after years of residency
and work in the U.S. is itself an indictment of America's broken
immigration system. The fact that she is discriminated against by the
very federal government she pays taxes to makes the situation doubly
"I could just lie to the government and marry a man," says Gaulthier.
"But I don't want to lie. I want to be honest."
Rachel Tiven, director of legal advocacy group Immigration Equality,
estimates that there are approximately 36,000 bi-national, same-sex
couples affected by immigration discrimination. Tiven is heartened by
a recent announcement from the Department of Homeland Security that
deportations of same-sex spouses would be de-prioritized.
"This is a huge step forward, Until now, LGBT families and their
lawyers had nothing to rely on but an oral promise that prosecutorial
discretion would include all families. Today, DHS has responded to
Congress and made that promise real."
Immigration Equality is currently preparing to challenge DOMA in front
of the Supreme Court. In the meantime, Gaulthier is awaiting renewal
of her O-1 visa. She was denied a green card.
Watch the full video below: