Basic standards of fairness require immigration cases involving married gay couples to be treated the same as heterosexual couples. But so far, the Defense of Marriage Act prevents the federal government from recognizing such marriages. As a result, legally married same-sex couples can’t petition for a green card for their foreign spouses. Sometimes, those spouses are deported. Since the Obama administration announced in 2011 that it would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex couples in this situation have been in limbo.
The Department of Homeland Security has said it will “exercise discretion in individual cases based on the unique factors.” In some cases, it has put such deportations on hold. But the administration should go further and issue a blanket moratorium on such deportations until the Defense of Marriage Act is repealed by Congress. A move like that would help a young Beverly couple who are currently fighting deportation. Jacquelyn, an American woman, and Gloria, who is Pakistani, met in college and fell in love. They dated for four years and briefly moved to Texas together. Last October, they married in Massachusetts. But since Gloria is no longer in college, her student visa is being revoked. She faces deportation to Pakistan, where her life would be in danger because of her religion, her sexual orientation, and her marriage to an American woman.
Luckily, this couple has a strong advocate in Senator John Kerry, who has written to the Department of Homeland Security on their behalf, seeking a stay of the deportation order. “No family should be torn apart because of a discriminatory law,” he wrote. He’s right, and Congress and the Department of Homeland Security should act accordingly.