The full impact of the today’s DOMA ruling will become more clear over the next few weeks, months and years, but one clear immediate winner is binational couples.
For some people, the effect of the ruling will depend on whether they live in marriage equality states or not. For immigration purposes, that will not make a difference. Immigration law recognizes marriages that are valid where celebrated.
Binational couples who are legally married will be able to apply for green cards for the partner who is not a citizen. That partner will be able to remain in the country legally without returning home to renew visas every two years and will be able to get a driver’s license and work. The green card also creates a path to citizenship.
“At long last, we can now tell our families that yes, they are eligible to apply for green cards,” said Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality. “Many of our families have waited years, and in some cases decades, for the green card they need to keep their families together.”
She said couples forced into exile will be able to return home and couples who are separated can be reunited.
“Today’s decision closes a discriminatory chapter in American immigration law,” Tiven said.
According to the Williams Institute, there are about 1,607 binational same-sex couples in Texas. That’s fourth-most behind New York, California and Florida. There are some 40,000 binational same-sex couples nationwide.
More coverage in Friday’s Dallas Voice with reaction from local binational couples.