BY LISA LEFF AND AMY TAXIN, ASSOCIATED PRESS
SAN FRANCISCO -- Amid pressure from Democratic lawmakers, Homeland Security officials reiterated Friday that a foreigner's longstanding same-sex relationship with a U.S. citizen could help stave off the threat of deportation.
Binational gay couples are eligible for consideration under a federal program designed to focus resources away from low-priority deportation cases and let officials spend more time tracking down convicted criminals, said Marsha Catron, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security.
However, the Obama administration will not automatically shelve deportation cases or process green card applications involving foreign citizens married to same-sex American partners.
Catron said her agency will continue to comply with a 1996 law that prohibits the government from recognizing same-sex relationships, even as Homeland Security takes these relationships into consideration when evaluating possible deportation.
The Obama administration last year said it considers the 1996 law unconstitutional and would no longer defend it in court.