October 08 2012


Same Sex Partners Recognized as Family Members

According to House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, the Obama administration has directed immigration officials to recognize same-sex partners as family members in certain deportation cases.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Pelosi in a letter that she had ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to notify its field offices “that the interpretation of the phrase ‘family relationships’ includes long-term, same-sex partners.”

USCIS Director Janet Napolitano said “We need to … relegate DOMA to the dustbin of history.”

The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act bars the federal government from extending federal benefits, such as Social Security, to married gay and lesbian couples. 

DOMA restricts the Obama administration from outright ordering that gay and lesbian couples be treated the same as heterosexual couples.

Last year, Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama called DOMA unconstitutional and said they would no longer defend the measure in court. In response, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives stepped in to fund an effort to try to uphold the law.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide next month whether it will review a number of cases questioning the constitutionality of DOMA.

Immigration officials last year said they would consider same-sex partnerships as family relations in deciding whether to deport undocumented immigrants.

But 83 members of Congress led by Pelosi and Jerrold Nadler of New York criticized the government for unevenly applying the directive, and they pressed for written guidelines.

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