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In this week's article, I will be revisiting the legality of adjusting one's immigration status to that of permanent residency (commonly referred to as "green card") through a same-sex marriage.  I wrote about this topic last year, but many people are still unsure whether or not same-sex marriages are legal. I'm going to tell you once and for all: YES!  The U.S. Supreme Court made a historic ruling regarding same-sex marriages.  The Supreme Court Justices ruled 5-4 in favor of same-sex marriages, finding that marriage for gay couples is a fundamental Constitutional right!  What this means is that, not only must all 50 states of the union perform same-sex marriages, every state must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states!

Fundamental Constitutional Right

Prior to this decision, same-sex marriages were not legal in 14 states. Under Section 3 of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), the federal definition of “marriage” and “Spouse” was defined as a marital union between one man and one woman.  DOMA, which was signed into law on September 21, 1996 by President Clinton, mandated that legally married same-sex couples could be treated differently than opposite-sex couples because same-sex couples did not meet the federal definition of couples who could be married. As I mentioned in past articles, the result of Section 3 was marriage-based discrimination because same-sex couples were deprived of a long list of important protections and responsibilities, including but not limited to, Social Security survivor benefits, immigration rights, family and medical leave. Now, because of last week’s Supreme Court ruling, no longer can the 14 hold-out states discriminate against same-sex couples – it is now law of the land – Same-Sex couples can get married in any state and each state must legally recognize this.

Immigration Application and Benefits

Same-Sex Married Couples. If you are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in a same-sex marriage to a foreign national, you can sponsor your spouse for a family-based immigrant visa.  After the ruling in Winsor v. United States, President Obama directed federal departments to ensure the decision of the Supreme Court and provide federal benefits for same-sex legally married couples.  Therefore, your eligibility to petition for your spouse, and your spouse’s admissibility as an immigrant at the immigration visa application or adjustment of status stage, will be determined according to applicable immigration law and will not be denied as a result of the same-sex nature of your marriage.

Same-Sex Engaged Couples. Not only will immigration benefits apply for those same-sex couples who have legally married, but such benefits may be available to those that are engaged. As long as all other immigration requirements are met, a same-sex engagement may allow your fiancé to enter the United States for marriage. So for those of you who are seeking to petition for your same-sex fiancé who is in Thailand, you can do so now. Please call our office for more details about this option.

Is Same-Sex Marriage Legal in all 50 States?

YES!!! As a general matter, the law of the state where the marriage took place and was celebrated determines whether the marriage is legally valid for immigration purposes. In the past, I would have clients consult with me regarding where they could get married. As long as you meet the requirements of the state in which you intend to marry, then you can marry there. And now, because of the Supreme Court ruling, your same-sex marriage is recognized in every state of the union!

Well, I hope this week’s article was refreshing and an interesting read. Same-sex marriages are legal in the entire USA. . If you still have questions, need assistance with this or any other legal issue, please contact my office at (818) 846-5639, or to speak to my Thai assistant, "Nuch" call (818) 505-4921. If you have any questions that you would like to be answered in future articles, please email me at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit my revamped website at: WWW.JC4LAW.COM for general information regarding this and many other topics in Business, Property and Family Law.


Disclaimer: The information contained herein have been prepared for informational purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice unless otherwise specified. If you have a specific question regarding your personal case, please contact the Law Offices of Joseph Chitmongran for a full consultation.