A New York City immigration judge immediately stopped the deportation proceedings of a gay Colombian man who is legally married to an American citizen soon after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) for being unconstitutional, as was first reported by Americablog on Wednesday. The federally-sanctioned DOMA only recognizes marriage between a man and a woman, so Sean Brooks and his Colombian husband Steven’s marriage did not exist in the eyes of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Therefore, USCIS cancelled Steven’s green card petition.
The ordeal for the couple started in 2011 when Sean, the American citizen, tried to file a green card petition for his husband based on their same-sex marriage. This left Steven in a visa limbo and vulnerable to deportation. Steven, who had not been back to Colombia for twelve years, applied to have his deportation cancelled based on the hardship that his deportation would incur on his spouse. The request was denied because federal law did not recognize same-sex couples.
As seen in the immediate cessation of Steve’s deportation, the Supreme Court’s ruling has a profound impact on the LGBT community. Roughly 24,700 other binational same-sex couples can now breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that they will not be torn away from the people they love. For a population of about 267,000 LGBT undocumented individuals, the Supreme Court ruling comes as a future goal post to look forward to now that federal laws has ended the discrimination against their love. It also will finally allow the federal government to treat all LGBT families equally by allowing them access to federal benefits and protections.