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Eric Holder Hub



04/19/2007


Washington Post Calls for Moratorium on Deportations of Gay Foreign Nationals in Legal Same-Sex Marriages

The Washington Post editorial board called on Eric Holder to stop the deportations affecting married binational same-sex couples under unfair immigration laws:

Henry_josh DOMA has been an impediment to the rights of gay men and lesbians since its inception in 1996. It withholds from same-sex couples the legal protections, obligations and privileges enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts. Repeal appears out of reach, but Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced in February that the Justice Department would no longer defend DOMA in court, after concluding that it is 

The attorney general has vacated the court decision and asked the Board of Immigration Appeals whether Mr. Dorman’s civil union makes him a “spouse” under New Jersey law and whether, absent DOMA, he would be considered a “spouse” under immigration law. Mr. Holder should erase any confusion by declaring a moratorium on removal of foreign nationals in state-recognized same-sex unions until federal courts determine DOMA’s constitutionality. He should ensure that the government is not focusing on breaking up otherwise law-abiding families.

Don’t penalize undocumented gay immigrants in civil unions with U.S. citizens [washington post]

(via lavi soloway)


Holder Clarifies LGBT Immigration Decisions, Says Administration Will Continue Enforcing DOMA

Last week there was a flurry of LGBT immigration news as Attorney General Holder vacated a ruling which postponed the deportation of an Irish man, Wilson Dorman, over questions surrounding the administration's rejection of Section 3 of DOMA as unconstitutional.

Holder Holder's office on Saturday clarified his positions:

Tracy Schmaler, a spokeswoman for Mr. Holder, said he had interceded in Mr. Dorman’s case only because he wanted the immigration appeals court to decide issues he felt had been overlooked. “As we have made clear, we will continue to enforce DOMA,” Ms. Schmaler said.

In February, Mr. Holder announced that the administration viewed the marriage act as unconstitutional and would not defend it in the courts, although the administration would continue to enforce the law.

Gay rights advocates have asked the administration to postpone all deportations for same-sex married couples until the courts decide whether the marriage act is constitutional.

On Friday, a judge cited Holder's decision in the Dorman case as part of a ruling postponing the deportation of Henry Velandia.

In related news, Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) last week introduced the Reuniting Families Act "which has a provision that would protect bi-national same-sex couples as one of its six prongs to keep families together in the country," according to the Washington Blade:

During a conference call Thursday, Honda touted his legislation as a means to make U.S. immigration policy more fair for gay Americans and their foreign partners.

“RFA also ends discrimination in our immigration system by allowing same-sex permanent partners to sponsor their foreign national partners for immigration benefits,” Honda said.

The provision allowing gay Americans to sponsor their foreign partners for residency in the United States is identical to other legislation known as the Uniting American Families Act, which is sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) in the House and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) in the Senate.

 


Attorney General Vacates Immigration Ruling Over DOMA Questions

Attorney General Eric Holder has vacated a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals which could have important implications regarding the inequalities faced by binational same-sex couples under DOMA.

Holder Lavi Soloway at Stop the Deportations notifies us, in an email:

In a cancellation of removal case involving a same-sex couple in New Jersey, the Attorney General of the United States has vacated a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals and remanded the case for a new ruling.  Specifically, the AG has asked the BIA to rule on whether a same-sex partner could qualify as a spouse under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

"This development could be a sign that the Obama administration is looking for a way to protect gay and lesbian binational couples who are currently barred from the regular marriage-based immigration process because of DOMA," said Lavi Soloway, co-founder of Stop the Deportations and Immigration Equality. "This is precisely why we must continue to advocate for the executive branch to implement administrative remedies and keep couples from being torn apart, including instituting a moratorium on deportations.  The heart-breaking stories of couples facing deportation have raised the profile of this issue, but we must keep the pressure on. Tomorrow, another New Jersey couple faces an Immigration Judge at a final deportation hearing in Newark.  We will ask the Immigration Judge to adjourn proceedings in light of today's action by the Attorney General."

Earlier today, Towleroad's legal expert Ari Ezra Waldman wrote about immigration law and DOMA with regard to the pending immigration case of Josh Vandiver and Henry Velandia, for whom there is a rally tomorrow in Newark.

Says Ari of Holder's decision:

"Today's guidance from Attorney General Holder is most welcome, especially to the families who would otherwise be unjustly torn apart by a misapplication of DOMA. Holder lays out specific factors immigration officials should consider when addressing the deportation of the gay foreign national spouses of American citizens. The Obama Administration has thus signaled that it is willing to look at valid same-sex unions as one of many reasons to stop or delay deportations in these cases. This is exactly the kind of guidance we need. Without these specific rules on what factors to consider, lower level executive branch bureaucrats have so much latitude, and that latitude lets them make mistakes and hide behind a bloated DOMA. Perhaps now, Mr. Velandia will not be unjustly deported on the whims of a few low level bureaucrats."

Read Holder's order, AFTER THE JUMP...

Chris Geidner at MetroWeekly has responses on the implications of Holder's order from Immigration Equality's communications director, Steve Rall and Eric Berndt, the supervising attorney for the National Asylum Partnership on Sexual Minorities at the National Immigrant Justice Center.

Continue reading "Attorney General Vacates Immigration Ruling Over DOMA Questions" »


Watch: GOP Congressman Compares Same-Sex Marriage to Incest, Polygamy in DOMA Hearing

Gowdy

While asking Attorney General Eric Holder about levels of scrutiny with regard to same-sex marriage in a DOMA hearing yesterday, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) brought up polygamy and incest, asking whether they deserved heightened levels of scrutiny as well.

Writes Igor Volsky at the Wonk Room:

Unlike laws preventing people from marrying their brother, laws which discriminate against gay people meet the Supreme Court’s legal standard for heightened scrutiny because gay men and lesbians have historically been “subjected to such a history of purposeful unequal treatment, or relegated to such a position of political powerlessness as to command extraordinary protection from the majoritarian political process.”

Gowdy went on to note that two court of appeals have ruled that a rational basis test should be applied to sexual orientation laws, while just one agreed with the administration’s view that a higher level of review is applicable and asked why Obama chose to side with the one decision.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Watch: GOP Congressman Compares Same-Sex Marriage to Incest, Polygamy in DOMA Hearing" »


President Obama Agrees with Eric Holder in Support of DOMA Defense Attorney Paul Clement

This morning I posted Attorney General Eric Holder's reaction to the departure of King & Spalding attorney Paul Clement and his former firm's dropping of the defense of DOMA. Clement subsequently joined Bancroft PLLC and will continue defending the case.

Holder Said Holder in response:

"Paul Clement is a great lawyer and has done a lot of really great things for this nation. In taking on the representation--representing Congress in connection with DOMA, I think he is doing that which lawyers do when we're at our best," Holder said during a roundtable with reporters at the Justice Department. "That criticism, I think, was very misplaced."

The White House stands with Holder on the issue, the Washington Blade reports:

“We do share Eric Holder’s views on this,” Carney said. “We think — as we said from the beginning when we talked about — when I did from this podium — about the decision no longer from the administration to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, that we would support efforts by Congress if they so chose to defend it. And so I have nothing to add to the attorney general’s comments.”

Background on King & Spalding's involvement
Attorney General Eric Holder Defends DOMA-Defender Paul Clement [tr]
HRC Confirms it Pressured King & Spalding's Clients on DOMA Issue [tr]
Paul Clement Resigns from King & Spalding [tr]
King & Spalding Firm Backing Out of DOMA Case [tr]
Protests Planned for DOMA-Defending Law Firm [tr]
King & Spalding Firm to Face Backlash Over Defending DOMA [tr]
DOMA Firm's Gag Order Revealed [tr]
DOMA Defense to Cost American Taxpayers $500K, Maybe More [tr]
House Files Motion to Intervene in DOMA Lawsuit [tr]
Former Bush Solicitor General Paul Clement to Lead DOMA Defense [tr]
DOMA-Defending Attorney Paul Clement's Firm is Proud of its Pro-LGBT Policies [tr]


Attorney General Eric Holder Defends DOMA-Defender Paul Clement; Employees Describe 'Mayhem' at Firm

Attorney General Eric Holder spoke out in defense of former King & Spalding attorney Paul Clement in a news conference with reporters yesterday, Politico's Josh Gerstein reports:

Holder "Paul Clement is a great lawyer and has done a lot of really great things for this nation. In taking on the representation--representing Congress in connection with DOMA, I think he is doing that which lawyers do when we're at our best," Holder said during a roundtable with reporters at the Justice Department. "That criticism, I think, was very misplaced."

Holder also compared the criticism of Clement to the attacks on Justice Department lawyers for their past work for detainees at Guantanamo.  "It was something we dealt with here in the Department of Justice...The people who criticized our people here at the Justice Department were wrong then, as are people who criticized Paul Clement for the representation that he's going to continue," Holder added.

Holder said he wasn't laying blame for Clement's disagreement with King & Spalding or disputing the firm's claim it withdrew due to improper vetting of the agreement to represent the House of Representatives, which is stepping into the cases after President Barack Obama concluded that DOMA is unconstitutional and ordered the Justice Department to stop defending it in court.

Kingspalding In related news, the HuffPost's Amanda Terkel reports that there was "mayhem" at King & Spalding after employees discovered the firm had taken on the case:

“Management was divided, people were threatening to quit,” the source said. In addition, it was unclear if members of the firm’s Diversity Committee had been consulted ahead of time about taking on the case.

**

The ripple effects of the firm taking on the case have extended beyond King & Spalding's Washington, D.C. offices. Pam Rymin, a litigation paralegal with another firm in Atlanta, made headlines last week for publicly complaining to King & Spalding's Atlanta leg, saying the gay community may be incensed enough to start holding rallies in protest of doing business with the company.

Background on King & Spalding's involvement
HRC Confirms it Pressured King & Spalding's Clients on DOMA Issue [tr]
Paul Clement Resigns from King & Spalding [tr]
King & Spalding Firm Backing Out of DOMA Case [tr]
Protests Planned for DOMA-Defending Law Firm [tr]
King & Spalding Firm to Face Backlash Over Defending DOMA [tr]
DOMA Firm's Gag Order Revealed [tr]
DOMA Defense to Cost American Taxpayers $500K, Maybe More [tr]
House Files Motion to Intervene in DOMA Lawsuit [tr]
Former Bush Solicitor General Paul Clement to Lead DOMA Defense [tr]
DOMA-Defending Attorney Paul Clement's Firm is Proud of its Pro-LGBT Policies [tr]


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