Our View: Marriage inequality affects more than you think

DKS Editors

Thirty-five-year-old Alfonso Garcia came to America from Mexico with his parents as a boy. He met Brian Willingham in October 2001, and the two lawfully married as a gay couple in New York. They currently reside as registered domestic partners in the San Francisco Bay area.

Now, Garcia is facing deportation and a ban from entering the country for 10 years. 

The trouble lies with the Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1996 and signed by President Clinton, which dictates the federal immigration court to recognize only opposite sex couples.  

“This is not an issue of separate but equal,” Willingham said. “There are no separate federal rights for married gay couples. There are no rights at all. This is not a front of the bus, back of the bus issue. This is the federal government telling us to get the hell off of the bus.”

Obama has called for a repeal of the federal law but it has yet to reach the Supreme Court. The couple hopes to have a ruling from the appeals courts before their October 25 hearing, which will decide whether Garcia will have legal residency based on marriage. 

This is a yet another hurdle in the fight for marriage equality — unique because it extends to immigration. It shows that the gay rights fight is becoming broader. The pressure on the government is increasing.

We feel the Defense of Marriage Act, which the Justice Department has defended as recently as 2009, needs to fall because it is inherently unconstitutional. We believe the nation is becoming more and more progressive. It’s only a matter of time before gay marriage will be accepted, or at least tolerated, by the majority of Americans. 

“We have a whole campaign around this case and other cases like it,” the couple’s attorney said. The Stop the Deportations Campaign allows gay and lesbian bi-national couples to fight deportation caused by the Defense of Marriage Act.

In short, this case is a good example of just how widespread the inequality is and how many different people truly don’t have the freedom to pursue happiness in this country.  

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.