Twenty-two Senate Democrats have asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to appoint an independent ombudsman for gay couples to shepherd them through the immigration system.
In the wake of June’s Supreme Court ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, DHS will begin issuing green cards to gays wed to Americans.
“President Obama directed federal departments to ensure the decision and its implication for federal benefits for same-sex legally married couples are implemented swiftly and smoothly,” Napolitano said in a statement. “To that end, effective immediately, I have directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse.”
The Senate Dems wrote Napolitano yesterday to contend “there remains much work to correct the past injustices of this law” within her department.
“For many bi-national married LGBT couples this ruling was too late. Although thirteen states and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses to LGBT couples, bi-national families were needlessly torn apart under DOMA because the federal government did not recognize their marriage as valid. Too many of the estimated 36,000 bi-national LGBT couples in the United States lived in constant fear of separation, simply because the United States citizen was unable to sponsor their LGBT spouse for a green card. Now that Section 3 of DOMA has been ruled unconstitutional, not one more bi-national LGBT couple should have to experience this uncertainty,” they wrote.
The lawmakers urged Napolitano to appoint “an independent ombudsman for LGBT issues who reports directly to you, is available and accessible to the public, and is empowered to resolve complaints across agencies within the Department.”
“We look forward to hearing back from you about the actions your Department will take and timeline for these actions, to remedy past discrimination and ensure equal access in our immigration system for all bi-national LGBT couples.”