Immigration Law

Vermont couple denied spousal green card; DOMA cited

"A lesbian couple is appealing the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service's decision to deny a spousal green card as questions about their marriage loom with threat of deportation.  Dummerston residents Frances Herbert and Japanese-born Takako Ueda, legally married in Vermont earlier this year, were denied a green card on Dec. 1 because the couple's nuptials are not recognized at the federal level. And without a visa or authorized documentation, immigrant officials could send Ueda back to Japan by the end of the year after more than a decade with Herbert.  The decision leaves Ueda without lawful immigration status.  In a letter from the citizenship department, Herbert's petition for alien relative was denied because the Immigration Nationality Act does not specifically define the term "spouse" with respect to gender. However, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, trumping Vermont law and voiding the Dummerston couple's eligibility.  "The DOMA applies as a matter of federal law whether or not your marriage is recognized under state law," the document reads. "Your spouse is not a person of the opposite sex. Therefore, under the DOMA, your petition must be denied."" - Brattleboro Reformer, Dec. 21, 2011.