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A same-sex married couple's pursuit of citizenship

For many couples, getting married is pretty simple. However, other couples experience all sorts of obstacles in the process of legally committing to each other. Same-sex couples, in particular, face legal difficulties when marrying. While Massachusetts same-sex couples can marry, these couples may still encounter difficulties with federal laws.

Many discussions about federal laws not recognizing same-sex marriage focus on couples having difficulties filing taxes, receiving health benefits, and receiving pensions. However, immigration can also be a serious issue for same-sex couples.

One California same-sex couple understands the difficulties of immigration very well. The couple-one American and one Australian-met when the Australian was in the U.S. as a tourist in the 1970s. Their relationship progressed and the men did not want to be separated because of deportation. They sought out any possible way to prevent the Australian from being deported.

In 1975, these men were one of six same-sex couples to be legally married by a Colorado clerk. This tactic did not work, though. Even though the couple was legally married, federal law did not recognize their marriage, so the Australian spouse still could not attain citizenship.

Since their marriage in the 1970s, this couple tried repeatedly to get the federal government to recognize their marriage so the Australian spouse would not be deported. Just recently, the American spouse died and his Australian spouse still does not have citizenship.

Many other same-sex couples likely face this type of difficulty with immigration and marriage laws as a result of the federal government not recognizing same-sex marriages granted by states. The federal Defense of Marriage Act can impact same-sex couples in many ways. Same-sex couples facing a legal issue may want to seek guidance from a legal professional.

Source: The New York Times, "Richard Adams, same-sex spouse who sued US, dies at 65," Margalit Fox, Dec. 24, 2012

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