Generally, immigration to the United States will take two paths, the family route or the work route. The demise of DOMA has eliminated a legal definition of marriage that limited what constitutes a family and thus who can utilize the family- based avenues to immigration.
The most obvious examples are United States citizens and permanent residents who can petition for their spouses; a privilege that the United States Customs and Immigration Service had previously denied to couples of the same sex. Additionally, same-sex couples can now take advantage of fiancé(e) visas, which allow their loved-ones who reside outside of the United States to legally enter the country and get married.
With regard to removal proceedings, hardship to a United States citizen spouse is commonly cited as a defense to the deportation of an undocumented loved-one. Same-sex couples that had no options to petition for their spouses were also unable to cite spousal hardship as a defense, again, because same-sex marriages did not exist as true marriages in USCIS and other federal proceedings. As a result of DOMA’s downfall, those in removal proceedings now have added ammunition to fight their case.
Although the United States Supreme Court’s decision to strike-down DOMA resonates among same-sex couples and their supporters, a certain population of our country perceive it as a landmark decision from multiple fronts. This demographic resides at the intersection of those who endeavor toward both same-sex equality and living freely in the United States. For those individuals, this decision has brought them two steps closer to realizing those dreams.