Monday, February 4, 2013

How equal is marriage equality?


While more states celebrate marriage equality there are about 40,000 foreign nationals in same-sex relationships living the U.S. who, no matter where they live, can’t really take part in that celebration.

Yes, we have made a significant change. Yes, we finally have a president who unapologetically recognizes gays and lesbians. But for all those screaming “Victory!” in their state because marriage equality is now a thing, I ask, what does equality mean to you?

I feel as we have forgotten the Defense Against Marriage Act. DOMA signed by President Clinton in 1996 defines marriage between a man and a women and does not require a state to recognize same-sex marriages. Despite the fact that the law is not being defended by our current administration, DOMA is still enforced. Which means, I can go get married in Maryland but the federal court will not recognize my marriage. Sounds unnecessary?  

Not for the 40,000 foreign nationals in same-sex relationships to whom getting married still means running a risk of getting separated rather than a life-long togetherness. Unlike, straight couples where a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident can file for their spouse’s green card, same-sex couples don’t have that option. In fact, if attempted, the undocumented spouse may face deportation.  That doesn’t seem very equal to me.

Fortunately, President Obama is already on it trying to grant same-sex couples equal immigration rights. However, there is of course opposition with ridiculous reasons as to why they are opposed. David Nakamura and Zachary A. Goldfarb from the Washington Post report on some of those oppositions in their article titled “In immigration debate, same-sex marriage comes to the fore”. Republicans fear that this will kill any chances of a “comprehensible immigration reform”.Some evangelical churches and religious organization continue to fight against anything dealing with same-sex marriage by claiming that it will indefinitely ruin the traditional family. Many now claim that President Obama has to choose between Latinos and gays.

But is this really about either group?

No, this issue shouldn’t be put in the middle of the table as if now the undocumented straight individuals had to fight the undocumented gays and lesbians for a right that has been long overdue to both parties. This is simply about providing the exact same opportunity that straight couples already had to same-sex couples. Does this mean that if same-sex couples have equal immigration rights Obama will not push a full immigration reform? No, why should extending equal rights have anything to do with writing an immigration reform? Does this mean that if a legally married spouse wants to petition for a green card for their spouse the traditional family values will fall apart? NO! 
The fact that this issue even has to be discussed clearly shows how broken the notion of marriage equality really is. 

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