(CNSNews.com) – For the last two years, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the nominee to be the next secretary of state, has called for “immigration equality” to prevent the deportation of illegal alien same-sex partners of legal U.S. residents.
In May, shortly after President Barack Obama announced his support for homosexual marriage, Kerry and 16 other Democratic senators sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
The letter pointed to the number of states recognizing gay marriage, but said problems could arise because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was the lead signature on the letter.
“With marriage equality rights being extended to more and more citizens of this country, and with the Department of Justice’s repudiation of DOMA, we are concerned with the toll the continued denial of I-130 applications for same-sex immigrant spouses is exacting on families in this country,” the senators’ letter said.
“Denials of these applications have caused extreme hardship for many legally married couples, forcing them to choose between leaving the country or breaking the law,” the letter added.
The Defense of Marriage Act, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996, defines marriage as between one man and one woman for federal purposes and says that no state can be required to recognize a same-sex marriage from another state.
The May letter referenced a 2011 letter which expressed similar concerns about “immigration equality.”
“We are appreciative that in the response to our letter, the Departments agreed to look at cases affected by DOMA on a case-by-case basis based on the individual circumstances,” the letter continued. “We are concerned that this policy is not currently being exercised at all levels of DHS and DOJ based on anecdotal reports. We are unaware of any application being held in abeyance following a case-by-case review.
The letter added, “We are particularly troubled that some field offices are apparently following a blanket policy to deny green card applications for all gay spouses. We are concerned they are not considering LGBT family ties in their consideration to exercise discretion.”
In the previous letter, in April 2011, where Kerry was also the lead signature, he praised the Obama administration for dropping its defense of DOMA in federal court, but insisted the immigration concerns must be addressed for homosexual couples.
“With DOMA as law, however, we are creating a tier of second-class families in states that have authorized same-sex marriage,” the letter from the senators said. “The same second-class status is imposed upon marriages between same-sex partners in which one spouse is not a U.S. citizen.
We urge you to reconsider this position in light of the administration’s position that it will no longer defend DOMA in federal court.”
The 2011 letter goes on to say, “We ask DHS to exercise prosecutorial discretion in commencing and prosecuting removal proceedings against married noncitizens that would be otherwise eligible to adjust their status to lawful permanent resident but for DOMA. We also call upon the Department of Justice to institute a moratorium on orders of removal issued by the immigration courts to married foreign nationals who would be otherwise eligible to adjust their status to lawful permanent resident but for DOMA.”
The organization Immigration Equality, which works specifically on homosexual immigration issues, praised Kerry for his efforts.
“Immigration Equality, and the families we represent, are enormously grateful to Senator Kerry and his colleagues for calling on the Administration to keep our families together,” said Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, in a statement on April 6, 2011.
“Unless USCIS changes course, real families will be impacted, and American citizens will be separated from their loved ones. Maintaining the status quo for these families will mean forcing them apart, or into exile. We call on USCIS to heed the advice of Senator Kerry, and the other signatories on today’s letter, and allow these loving, committed couples to remain together,” Tiven added.
Kerry’s tenure, if confirmed by the Senate, will likely be a continuation of the policies of current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in promoting both homosexual issues and abortion on the global front, said Tom McClusky, senior vice president of the Family Research Council, a social conservative think tank.
"One would imagine he’d prioritize abortion and homosexuality as a center of his policy just as Secretary Clinton has stated,” McClusky told CNSNews.com in a written statement. “He opposes DOMA, life and prioritization of a mother and father model for adoption.”