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California Upholds Proposition 8 Gay Marriage Ban, Leaves 18,000 Same-Sex Marriages Intact
Complicated State Ruling Adds to Federal Frustrations for Same-Sex Couples
San Francisco, CA—May 26, 2009—The California Supreme Court issued its ruling on the validity of the Proposition 8 ballot initiative today and upheld a voter-mandated ban on same-sex marriage. The 6-1 decision will allow the state constitution to define marriage as only that between a man and a woman.
In an effort not to have the Court’s 2008 decision permitting same-sex marriage undermined, the justices agreed to let the more than 18,000 same-sex marriages performed in California between June and November last year remain intact.
“This ruling only further underscores the need for same-sex marriage to be recognized at the federal level,” said Mickey Lim, vice president and co-founder of Out4Immigration, a grassroots organization that works closely with same-sex marriage groups for recognition of same-sex binational couple rights tied to federal immigration policies.
“We see same-sex binational couples torn apart every day due to lack of federal protections for gay and lesbian relationships. While it is good news that the 18,000 California couples will be protected by the state, these couples, like all other gay and lesbian couples in this country remain legal strangers in the eyes of the U.S. government.”
The Human Rights Watch estimates there are nearly 40,000 same-sex binational couples in the United States. These are couples in which one partner is an American citizen or permanent resident and the other is from another country. Although opposite-sex binational couples can keep their relationships intact through federally recognized marriage and spousal immigration policies – same-sex binational couples are cruelly shut out from both options. When the foreign partner’s visa runs out, these couples have no options to remain in the country legally.
“It will take the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) for same-sex couples to have full equal protection under U.S. law and access to all 1,138 federal rights currently only available to opposite-sex married couples,” said Lim. “One of these rights is immigration rights, and the right of a gay or lesbian American to sponsor a foreign partner for immigration purposes.”
A bill in Congress, the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) would add three words to existing immigration law, “or permanent partner”, wherever the word spouse appears and give same-sex binational couples the right to stay together legally in the United States. However, these couples’ relationships, along with same-sex couples legally married in California in 2008, or in the five other states currently recognizing same-sex marriage would continue to be shut out from full federal recognition of their relationships.
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For more information:
California High Court Upholds Marriage Ban: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_gay_marriage
The Uniting American Families Act (H.R. 1024): http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d111:HR01024:@@@P
The Uniting American Families Act (S.424): http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d111:SN0424:
Human Rights Watch Report: Family Unvalued: Discrimination, Denial, and the Fate of Binational Same-Sex Couples under US Law: http://www.hrw.org/reports/2006/us0506/
Out4Immigration is a national grassroots organization dedicated to raising awareness about the discrimination same-sex binational couples face under current US immigration law and the difficulties they encounter in keeping their families together legally in this country. For more information, visit http://www.out4immigration.org.