Jane DeLeon came to this country from the Philippines two decades ago as the common-law partner of a man.
In 2008, when same-sex marriage was still legal in California, she married a woman and had been leading a happy life in America--until the federal government told her she must leave.
Now DeLeon is fighting in court on behalf of herself, her wife and other gay couples caught up in an immigration quagmire.
The Irvine accounting clerk filed her class-action suit in federal court in Santa Ana Thursday, and you'd think--at least when it comes to the specifics of the DeLeon case--it would be a slam dunk. Besides her long residency in the U.S., her employer has sponsored her for a green card. Then there is the compassion card: DeLeon's wife suffers from a medical condition that could worsen if she travels.
The hold up, according to court documents, is the government's refusal to recognize DeLeon's marriage, the ol' dick Rick Santorum move, if you will. (But please don't.) That's
due to the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, that Bush II valentine to his conservative Christian base.
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"It's clearly the kind of case where typically the waiver would have been granted, but it was simply denied based on DOMA," Peter Schey, president of the Los Angeles-based Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, reportedly explained. His organization filed the suit on behalf of the couple and DeLeon's 26-year-old son.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services declines to comment on individual cases but has explained in a general sense that it must enforce DOMA until Congress and/or the courts repeal it.
What's unclear is why the feds can't act despite the Act: the law allows waiver applications if it can be shown a foreign resident's absence from the country could cause extreme hardship to an American citizen spouse or parent. It's apparently a pickle scores of same-sex couples are experiencing, thus DeLeon's expansion of her suit to consider their immigration quagmires as well.