Five Binational Gay Couples File Lawsuit Challenging DOMA


Five married gay and lesbian binational couples filed suit in the Federal District Court in New York on Monday, arguing that denial of green cards for the spouses of gay and lesbian Americans pursuant to Section 3 of DOMA constitutes a violation of the Equal Protection guarantee of the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit was filed on the couples' behalf by Immigration Equality and the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.

MetroWeekly reports:

Filing what she described as the organization's "first big impact litigation," Immigration Equality's executive director, Rachel Tiven, tells Metro Weekly that the organization was "left with no choice but to sue" the Obama administration today in order to protect what it claims are the constitutional rights of same-sex married couples who are prohibited by the Defense of Marriage Act from receiving equal treatment in the green card application process.

Lawyers for Stop the Deportations – the DOMA Project repeated a call for the Obama Administration to implement immediate moratorium on the denial of any green card petitions filed by married same-sex couples until this case has been fully litigated and there has been a final judicial determination on DOMA Section 3, according to a press release from the group.

Said Lavi Soloway, attorney and co-founder of the DOMA Project, in a statement:

“The White House website ­­­states, 'President Obama believes [that]… Americans with partners from other countries should not be faced with a painful choice between staying with their partner or staying in their country.' The administration’s current policy of denying green cards and refusing to hold cases in abeyance destroys marriages and tears apart families. Abeyance would mean that USCIS does not approve petitions, as DOMA prohibits approval, but also does not deny petitions.  By abstaining from a final decision, most especially in light of the pending legal challenge to DOMA, USCIS would allow legally married lesbian and gay spouses to live together legally and safely within the United States. Abeyance would not contravene DOMA, and it is a reasonable and respectful policy until there is a final resolution of DOMA especially in light of the filing of the lawsuit today."

Information on the plaintiffs is HERE.

The complaint is available HERE.


  1. Jay says

    Am I wrong in thinking that a win for these couples would signal a big change for marriage equality, nation wide?

    p.s. Thank you for this site!

  2. David Hearne says

    Gay couples should be treated equally to straight couples. HOWEVER… a person shouldn’t get to jump line just because he is schtupping with an American. There should be no preference given to spouses. And a sponsored spouse should earn no right to sponsor other family members in the future.

  3. RWG says

    This nasty business, a crime committed against my lover (in Venezuela) and I, has eroded irreparably, the love of my country. I used to love my country, but its callous, cruel and hateful rejection of me has forever destroyed any pride or joy in it I might feel. Everyday I wake up wishing I could be Canadian.

    @David Hearne: Is it easy to talk out of both sides of your mouth like that? Bigot!

  4. Jenn says

    @ David Hearne, the spouses of straight couples are able to jump the line as you are calling it..are you suggesting that gay and lesbian married couples having that same right is somehow asking for a special privilege when in actuality we are simply asking for the same rights as our straight counterparts? Unless of course you are suggesting that straight married couples should no longer be given that right either?

  5. yonkerconquers says

    This is the foundational battle for equal rights and equal protection for all gay people.

    It blows my mind that so many American gay men don’t grasp how important the successful resolution of this issue is.

    David Hearne is an irrational Tea Party meme looking for somewhere to happen, that is all.

  6. David Hearne says

    Jenn, The beauty of the English language is that it is nimble and exact. My post made it quite clear that I thought gay couples should be equal to straight couples, and that neither should be a ticket to citizenship ahead of anyone else.

  7. george F says

    We binational couples are indeed affected by DOMA and feel its negative impact on a daily basis…regarding lots expenses and efforts just to stay together…

  8. simon says

    @David Hearne:
    We are talking about green card or permanent residency, not citizenship here.
    The immigration laws in most countries don’t work the way you suggested. Not all applicants are equal.
    In some countries, they have a point system. You get more points if your job skill is in demand or your have close family members in that country. In this case, a spouse. In the US, some people get priority depending on criteria similar those mentioned above.

  9. David Hearne says


    I don’t give a damn how they do it in other countries. The US has no need for more nonessential immigrants. We have 12 million of them that we need to get rid of before we even consider new ones.

    Why does the boyfriend have to come and live here? Why don’t you go live in Burkina Faso or Paraguay?

  10. says

    If straight couples have the right to live together, gay couples should have the same right.

    This has always struck me as the easiest to grasp argument for marriage equality, maybe because I know a lot of people from other countries.

    Some people are apparently either parochial or inhuman or both, and can’t imagine falling in love with someone who doesn’t happen to have a US passport.

  11. Tarc says

    @David Hearne – In many cases, there is no ‘line’, just a very tiny pool of slots open to the general population that are assigned by lottery. Spouses of Americans have a different process, whereby they have their own track to work and green card (which happens in order of filing, mostly). This is fitting and just: today, it’s very difficult to have a one-bread winner family and it takes up to seven years to complete citizenship (though I think spousal citizenship is less).

  12. Tarc says

    @ David Hearne – Sorry, bothered writing that before I read all your replies. 1) Spouses aren’t ‘non-essential’ immigrants. 2) You have to be married – so no ‘boyfriends’. 3) You do realize that the US provides hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of work Visas for people from China and India every year, right? 4) As the baby boomers retire, that will probably be essential (as much as I don’t care for it). Blathering zenophobically doesn’t make your comments true or practical.