A new lawsuit was filed Monday challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act — this time on the grounds that it discriminates against married bi-national same-sex couples seeking to remain together in the United States.
Immigration Equality, an LGBT advocacy group, filed the case in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on behalf of five gay couples. The law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP joined the organization in filing the lawsuit.
The lawsuit, known as Blesch v. Holder, targets the inability of these spouses to secure residency in the United States through the marriage-based green card application process.
Americans in opposite-sex marriages can sponsor their foreign spouses for residency in the United States, but that option isn’t available to same-sex couples because of DOMA. These couples are at risk of separation if the foreign national is undocumented or if a temporary visa obtained for work or some other purposes expires.
“Because of DOMA, the federal government does not recognize the marriages of same-sex couples and, therefore, denies them the immigration rights afforded to other married couples,” the complaint states. “As a result, these couples live their lives at constant risk of separation.”
The five couples represented in the lawsuit are Edwin Blesch and his South African spouse, Tim Smulian, who reside in Orient, N.Y.; Frances Herbert and her Japanese-born spouse, Takako Ueda, who reside in Dummerston, Vt.; Heather Morgan and her Spanish-born spouse, Maria del Mar Verdugo, who live in New York City; Santiago Ortiz and his Venezuelan-born spouse, Pablo Garcia, who live in Elmhurst, N.Y.; and Kelli Ryan and her British-born spouse, Lucy Truman, who reside in Sandy Hook, Conn.