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Bloggings: Same-Sex Marriage Becoming Mainstream? What Does it Mean for Immigrants?, by: Danielle L. C. Beach-Oswald

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Gay marraige


The 2012 Presidential election produced great advances in the fight for marriage equality
as legislation passed in the states of Minnesota, Maryland, Maine, and Washington.  The
significance of these results is that for the first time voters supported the measure at
the polls, instead of it simply being limited to the authority of state legislatures.  The
times of this issue being perceived as solely an intellectual debate are gone as it
becomes a question of policy on all levels. 


These new developments also present the question as to the impact such decisions may have
on future legislation nationwide.  The results in these four states have a critical impact
as the issue has become a political reality and acceptable in the eyes of many voters. 
This places pressure on the state legislatures around the country to tackle marriage
equality more directly.  In addition, it will also push for resolutions on ending legal
barriers to gay marriage at the federal level. 


Yet, the majority of these legislative initiatives at state and federal levels cannot be
addressed immediately.  It will take time, but the November outcome gives marriage equality
a push that previously had not existed.  The critical and immediate significance of these
new states' approval is the impact on previously disillusioned gay and lesbian voters.  With
recent failures in the movement, such as Proposition 8 in California during 2008 or a setback
in Maine during 2011, the marriage equality movement needed these successes. 


An important connection must be made to make clear that the marriage equality debate is
multifaceted.  The real question - now that more and more states are adopting same-sex
marriage as a legal reality - is what will the federal government do?  The complexities arise
when one considers that immigration is a federal issue, while the debate of marriage equality
is being left up to states.  Immigration legislation allows for a foreign spouse to receive
legal permanent residency through a green card through one's foreign spouse.  The green card,
in many ways, is the most straightforward path towards citizenship, due to the unlimited amount
of green cards available to spouses of citizens.  A problem presents itself in that federal
authorities and legislation are not going to recognize same-sex marriages even if an individual
state may allow it.  Thereby, many of these same-sex couples may face deportation for the
immigrant or leaving the country in the case of the American spouse. 


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