SCOTUS Hearing on Same-Sex Marriage Could Impact LGBTQ+ Marriage Green Card Petitions

In a Nutshell

- There are an estimated 289,000 LGBTQ+ immigrants in the U.S. - 303 Creative v. Elenis challenges same-sex marriage and the Supreme Court’s decision on it will affect immigration benefits to same-sex couples petitioning their spouses for green cards.

Written by ImmigrationHelp News Team
Written December 6, 2022

The federal legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015 brought with it lots of joy and celebration. It also brought LGBTQ+ citizens in the United States a step closer to equality and impacted immigration law. When the 2015 supreme court verdict was announced, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was immediately ordered to treat same-sex spousal petitions in the same way as opposite-sex petitions. 

In short, for the first time, same-sex partners of noncitizens were able to petition for legal status, such as a marriage green card, on behalf of their partners. According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, an estimated 289,000 LGBTQ+ immigrants are also undocumented. Same-sex marriage has been a pathway to legal permanent residency (green card) for people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and could present a pathway for other undocumented immigrants in the future. 

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is now hearing 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, a case that challenges the legality of same-sex marriages. It’s being heard because a Christian graphic designer wishes not to create or design websites for LGBTQ+ weddings. The graphic designer wants to post a statement on her firm’s site explaining that she will only design sites for heterosexual weddings that align with her religious beliefs. 

However, she lives and works in Colorado where a state law, Colorado Antidiscrimination Act (CADA) prohibits discrimination based on protected classes, including sexual orientation. CADA also bars businesses from posting the intention to refuse services based on these characteristics. 

Experts worry that the case may challenge the validity of same-sex marriages as well as the benefits many LGBTQ+ married couples were able to gain once same-sex marriages were legalized. The law will impact LGBTQ+ people of various walks of life, including immigrants awaiting spousal petitions through the U.S. immigration system. A repeal of same-sex marriage equality will especially harm people in precarious immigration positions, such as refugees, foreign nationals who face danger should they be deported, and people from countries where LGBTQ+ relationships are illegal.

On November 30, 2022, the United States Senate voted in favor of legislation that would protect same-sex marriages as a preventative measure during this hearing. The bill is expected to go to the House for a vote as soon as this week.