by Dan Savage
on Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 6:45 AM
That decision to stop deporting foreign nationals who are married—legally married—to American citizens that was celebrated on this blog and others earlier this week? We enthused too soon:
An announcement by immigration officials in Washington on Monday that they were delaying decisions on some immigration cases involving gay couples led to a surge of expectations among gay advocates that the Obama administration had taken a small but significant step toward recognizing same-sex marriage. But on Tuesday, immigration officials moved swiftly to clarify their position and dampen those hopes, saying they have not made any policy changes that would provide an opening to gay couples. The episode added to the legal confusion that has followed the administration’s determination last month that the law that bars the federal government from recognizing gay marriages, the Defense of Marriage Act, is unconstitutional.
In this case, the misunderstandings and soaring hopes arose from an effort in recent days by officials at Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency that awards immigration status, to clarify their policy on granting permanent residency green cards to immigrants legally married to American citizens who are gay. While it is routine for American citizens in heterosexual couples to obtain green cards for their foreign spouses, the Defense of Marriage Act has barred such status for immigrants in same-sex marriages.
This is an enormously distressing and, for the impacted couples, an enormously cruel letdown. Now we can add the raising of false hopes to the needless pain and suffering that our government already inflicts on gay Americans who committed the crime of falling in love with and marrying—legally marrying—foreign nationals. This is a slap in the face to all gay Americans, all gay voters, and all gay donors—particularly in light of the suspension of the "widow's penalty" nearly two years ago. Shameful.