Gay couples can immigrate under DOMA ruling

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The Supreme Court’s ruling that the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional should immediately open up immigration benefits to same-sex partners in states where their unions are recognized as marriages.

The 5-4 decision ruled that federal benefits pertaining to marriage couples cannot be denied to same-sex couples who are married, and that states can recognize those marriages. The issue at hand was an inheritance case, but analysts said the ruling signals the same principle applies to all federal benefits such as Social Security and taxes.

“This is a huge day not only for the LGBT movement, but also for the immigrant rights’ movement,” said Jorge Gutierrez, who leads the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project for United We Dream, a group of young illegal immigrants. “This Supreme Court decision affirms that all families and individuals should be treated fairly and with justice.”

Gay and lesbian couples had become a major flashpoint in the immigration debate now on the floor of the Senate. Democrats had said they wanted to use the debate to extend immigration benefits to same-sex couples, but Republicans had warned that would break up the tenuous coalition backing the bill by scaring off Catholic and Evangelical supporters.

Still, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, had filed amendments to the bill that would have pushed the issue. He had not yet raised the amendments on the floor.

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