Today, just as the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, my husband and I are celebrating nine years of marriage. Despite the ups and downs, I know we are grateful to have each other, and to have had the opportunity to celebrate our love, and mark our commitment to each other in a celebration with family and friends. This freedom to marry is now also available to my sister and many others like her, who are with a same-sex partner. But it's not just the ability to marry whomever you wish that the Supreme Court decision affects. Now that DOMA has been declared unconstitutional, immigrant partners of U.S. citizens are eligible for permanent residency and citizenship. So it's a double whammy for the many LGBT immigrant couples who have been unable to access the full benefits of marriage or denied a green card because of their sexual orientation. In fact, on the same day as the decision came down, a New York City judge stopped deportation proceedings for Steven, a Colombian married to an American citizen.
I doubt anyone who is married would sing its praises unequivocally (at least not in private). But the decision on DOMA is not a decision about uplifting marriage as an ideal. It's about offering a choice to the many couples who have not had one in the past. And for couples with one immigrant partner, the decision allows an opportunity to achieve legal immigration status; travel freely between the U.S. and one's country of origin; and participate fully in the economy and our democracy. Financial independence, the ability to maintain family ties in the home country, and the right to vote, all contribute to individual satisfaction and to our communities' vitality. For groups like Immigration Equality, who have been advocating on behalf of LGBT immigrant couples for years, this is a big step forward.
Do we have a long way to go to achieve equality in our society? Absolutely. But the DOMA decision, and in particular its impact on LGBT couples is a victory for immigrant communities that is worth celebrating.