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LGBT spouses fight for adjustment of status rights

Imagine spending 40 years working through your Texas immigration case. Although four decades' worth of legal fights may seem overwhelming, that is what one gay couple has had to pursue in order to resolve their immigration concerns. The couple -- who met and fell in love in Los Angeles before getting married in Boulder, Colorado -- have been seeking legal status for one of the men since the 1970s. The undocumented immigrant, age 72, is still waiting on word about his pending green card application.

The couple's history is unique because they were one of only six couples permitted to marry in Colorado in the 70s. There was no law prohibiting same-sex marriage at that time, so the county clerk issued them a marriage license. Shortly thereafter, the practice was discontinued, but the men's marriage remained legal. However, the federal Defense of Marriage Act had prevented one of the men from receiving his green card. For heterosexual couples, a U.S. citizen or current green-card holder can serve as a sponsor to a spouse, so long as they remain together in the country.

After DOMA was struck down, about 40,000 couples became eligible for green-card rights that were previously inaccessible. Although most LGBT couples are now able to go through the same process as their straight counterparts, some people are still being left behind. The man in this case remains undocumented because his spouse died six months before DOMA's demise.

Spouses of U.S. green-card holders -- no matter their sexuality -- should be entitled to legal immigration rights under federal law. It is unjust for this man to be continually rebuffed by federal officials simply because he is a widower. This man and others like him deserve the legal consideration that would be afforded to a straight spouse in the same situation.

Source: CNN, "Love wins in gay couple's 40-year immigration fight," June 28, 2014

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