Monday, May 9, 2011

Justice Dept. to Continue Policy Against Same-Sex Marriage

After two instances in which deportations were suspended in immigration cases involving same-sex couples, the Justice Department has cautioned that it will continue to enforce a law that bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.
A Justice Department official said Saturday that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. had made no change in the administration’s approach to the law, the Defense of Marriage Act, suggesting that deportations could continue in other immigration cases involving married gay couples.
On Friday, an immigration judge in Newark suspended the deportation of Henry Velandia, a Venezuelan man who was legally married last year in Connecticut to an American citizen, Josh Vandiver. The judge cited an unusual action by Mr. Holder in a different case.
On Thursday, Mr. Holder postponed the deportation of an Irish immigrant involved in a same-sex union, sending the case back to the immigration appeals court. The Irish man, Paul Wilson Dorman, was joined in a civil union in 2009 with an American citizen in New Jersey.
The Board of Immigration Appeals had denied Mr. Dorman residency, citing the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA. Among other issues, Mr. Holder asked the appeals court to consider whether the civil union might qualify Mr. Dorman as a spouse eligible for residency.
Tracy Schmaler, a spokeswoman for Mr. Holder, said he had interceded in Mr. Dorman’s case only because he wanted the immigration appeals court to decide issues he felt had been overlooked. “As we have made clear, we will continue to enforce DOMA,” Ms. Schmaler said.
In February, Mr. Holder announced that the administration viewed the marriage act as unconstitutional and would not defend it in the courts, although the administration would continue to enforce the law.
Gay rights advocates have asked the administration to postpone all deportations for same-sex married couples until the courts decide whether the marriage act is constitutional. Under immigration law, an American citizen can petition for legal residency for a spouse, if the spouse is not the same sex.

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