Recent News in Orlando and Same-Sex Marriages

On June 12, 2016, an American-born man gunned down 49 people, and injured at least 53, at a gay nightclub in Orlando.  This shooting was the deadliest shooting since 9/11, being described as an act terror and hate.  The shooter’s motives are suspected to be due to his hatred toward the LGBTQ community, after seeing two men kiss in Miami.  In this day and age, this act of violence is shocking to the American community, and especially the LGBTQ community.  Some LGBTQ members have expressed disappointment and frustration that the fear they felt over 20 years ago as a homosexual individual, is again felt again today.

Although not all Americans may agree with all the ideals of the LGBTQ community, federal law does, at least in regards to marriage.  In 2013, in a seminal case, the U.S. Supreme Court held that same-sex marriage is constitutional, legalizing same-sex marriage throughout all the United States of America.  The case was a significant victory for the LGBTQ community and thousands of couples went to local government offices to register their marriages.  Consistent with this case, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that they would review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed for an opposite-sex spouse.

From an immigration perspective, the legalization of same-sex marriage made a large impact for the LGBTQ community.  Now, many undocumented individuals with same-sex partners could now pursue lawful status in the U.S.  Of course, each individual would need to adhere to all the applicable immigration laws, but the fact that the applicant is in a same-sex marriage would not affect the application.

There are numerous ways that having a same-sex partner can help your immigration case.  First, if your partner is a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident, they can now file a petition for you to immigrate to the U.S. regardless of what state you marry.  Further, a same-sex partner is considered a “qualifying relative” for numerous different purposes.  For example, certain individuals may be considered inadmissible to the U.S. and need a waiver of inadmissibility.

Although the recent news is incredibly devastating, same-sex partners should not forget that these acts do not affect federal law already in place.  Speak to a knowledgeable attorney to discuss any options available to you.