While Maryland approved same-sex marriage in early November and licenses for those marriages will be available in many Maryland counties this week, the dream of marriage equality for some couples could end in separation by deportation, according to a recent Washington Post story.
The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defines marriage as "the legal union between a man and a woman" and effectively denies access to pension and inheritance funds as well as the legal right to immigrate via marriage.
That could spell deportation for spouses in the U.S. on temporary visas. In fact, the article states that more than 36,000 couples face this possibility.
Since the passage of DOMA, 10 states and the District of Columbia have legislated to allow gay marriage, and some federal courts have already found portions of DOMA unconstitutional. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case of Edie Windsor, who was forced to pay $363,000 in federal estate taxes when her same-sex spouse died (a husband would not be responsible for those taxes).
If the Supreme Court agrees with Windsor, then the section of DOMA that denies immigration rights will dissolve.
In the meantime, advocates have called for the deferment of all pending green card petitions for same-sex spouses until the case is decided on.
A same-sex couple from Maryland--Fabiola Morales and Kelly Costello of Potomac--reportedly face separation by deportation when Morales' student visa runs out in 2013.