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.
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.