What Does The DOMA Decision Mean For Immigration Reform?

June 26 marked a momentous day for LGBT individuals across the country as the Defense of Marriage Act was shut down by the Supreme Court, but what does this mean for U.S. citizens who are seeking green cards for their foreign-born partners?

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a longtime supporter of equal marriage rights, has been under an immense amount of pressure to add an amendment to the bill that would include immigration rights for the LGBT community, according to The New Yorker.

However, half of the senators who crafted the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” legislation said they would no longer support the bill if the amendment was added. Instead of pinning two minority groups against one another for immigration reform, proponents of the amendment urged Leahy to wait until the Supreme Court’s decision.

“If we do it right, we can portray this as not necessary, because it’s going through the courts,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., recently told The New Yorker, referring to the Leahy amendment. “If the Supreme Court throws out DOMA, then those rights are gonna be there. If it upholds DOMA, then you could argue that that part of the legislation, if it was in it, was invalid.”

In a statement on June 26, Janet Napolitano, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, pledged that all married couples will have equal rights when it comes to immigration reform. Prior to the strike down of DOMA, a naturalized U.S. citizen was prohibited from sponsoring a same-sex foreign spouse. Now, same-sex couples have the same immigration rights as straight couples.

The Supreme Court decision to get rid of DOMA improved the chances of passing immigration reform without further overhaul, which is a resolution from which immigration and LGBT activists can benefit.