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Until court rules, Immigration holds 'in abeyance' cases involving binational gay, lesbian couples

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

In a shift, foreign spouses of American gays and lesbians will be allowed to apply for green cards while courts weigh the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

"It’s a very significant relief for couples who have faced separations or exile," said Steve Ralls, a spokesman for gay-oriented Immigration Equality in Washington. "The final resolution will depend on DOMA’s ultimate constitutionality."

"Those spousal applications will not be denied but kept pending until DOMA’s constitutionality is settled by the courts," Ralls said.

The Obama administration in February announced it would no longer defend DOMA's constitutionality. Attorney General Eric Holder said the section of the 1996 law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman is unconstitutional. House Speaker John Boehner later said the House may go to court to defend the law.

On Monday, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) confirmed to gay Metro Weekly that it would hold related cases "in abeyance" until a high court decides DOMA's constitutionality.

"There’s been no change in policy," USCIS spokesman Christopher Bentley said.

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