Married gay couples sue for immigration rights

April 3, 2012 - 4:05 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Immigration advocates say a federal law that prevents married gay couples from sponsoring their spouses for green cards violates their constitutional rights.

They're suing the U.S. government in New York City on behalf of five legally married gay couples. The lawsuit challenges the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal benefits to married gay couples.

The group Immigration Equality says the couples are denied immigration rights afforded to other families. Advocates say if the couples were heterosexual, the government would recognize the foreign spouse as an immediate relative of the U.S. citizen.

The law, known as DOMA (DOH'-muh), also is at the center of a legal battle in Massachusetts.

The New York lawsuit was filed Monday.