NEWS BRIEF

US back to denying same-sex couple visas

Posted March 30, 2011, at 8:35 p.m.

WASHINGTON — After a brief reprieve, immigration authorities once again are denying applications for immigration benefits for same-sex couples after a legal review.

Chris Bentley, a spokesman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, said Wednesday that after a review by lawyers from the Homeland Security Department, it was concluded that a law prohibiting the government from recognizing same-sex marriages must be followed, despite the Obama administration’s decision to stop defending the constitutionality of the law in court.

The law, the Defense of Marriage Act, defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Earlier this week, USCIS announced that applications from foreigners married to a U.S. citizen of the same sex would be held in “abeyance” while the legal review proceeded. Bentley said Tuesday that the temporary hold on application decisions was not a change in policy.

In February, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the government no longer would defend the law, which gay rights activists have said is discriminatory.

Bob Deasy, of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said the latest ruling is a “disappointment.”

“The administration has the authority to put these cases on hold” while the fate of the marriage law is decided in court, he said.

Holder’s announcement appears already to have had an impact on at least one immigration case.

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