May 11, 2011 at 2:31 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Carney suggests no moratorium on DOMA-related deportations

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (Blade photo by Michael Key)

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney suggested on Wednesday that President Obama isn’t open to issuing a moratorium to stop the deportations of LGBT foreign nationals in same-sex marriages who would be eligible for residency in the United States if not for the Defense of Marriage Act.

Under questioning from the Washington Blade, Carney noted that Obama articulated in his immigration speech on Tuesday that problems in the immigration code — whether they impact gay Americans and their foreign spouses or not — require a comprehensive legislative solution as opposed to executive action.

“The president, I think, made the point in his speech yesterday that he believes we have to take comprehensive action on immigration reform and that he can’t just wave a wand and change the law,” Carney said. “So, I’ll leave — I’ll leave it at that terms in of his views.”

Pressed on whether he believes the White House has the authority to issue such a moratorium, Carney replied, “It’s not for me to decide. I’m not a lawyer.”

Foreign nationals in same-sex relationships with Americans could be subject to deportation and separation from their loved ones upon expiration of their temporary visas that allow them to remain in the country. Even U.S. citizens in legally recognized same-sex marriages with foreign nationals cannot obtain marriage-based I-130 green cards for their spouses because of DOMA, which prohibits federal recognition of the unions.

While Obama has called for passage of comprehensive immigration reform legislation, the White House has yet to articulate support for LGBT inclusion as part of any larger package. Standalone legislation that would address this problem both for same-sex bi-national couples — married or otherwise — is known as the Uniting American Families Act.

Asked whether the president wants to see UAFA included as part of any comprehensive package, Carney reiterated the previously enumerated items that Obama wants to see in reform.

“That’s a level of specificity I don’t have,” Carney said. “The president’s committed to comprehensive immigration reform. He thinks that it’s got to contain the elements of the continued focus on law enforcement and border control. And it has to deal with changes to legal immigration and a way to deal with the 11 million illegal immigrants here that’s fair to both them and to businesses and to those who are here legally and going — and approaching this in a legal manner.”

During his speech on immigration on Tuesday, Obama never directly addressed how current immigration law affects gay Americans who are unable to sponsor their foreign partners for residency in the United States.

At one point, Obama more generally said immigration law should “respect families following the rules — reuniting them more quickly instead of splitting them apart.” However, the remark seemed directed toward immigrants who are permanent residents in the United States seeking to have their loved ones join them, and not aimed at problems faced by gay Americans and their foreign partners.

Asked why Obama didn’t address how the current immigration law directly impacts LGBT Americans, Carney replied, “He gave a pretty long, comprehensive speech.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • No one has asked the President to wave a magic wand and violate his oath to the Constitution. The Attorney General appointed by the President made the decision to delay deportation for those in same sex marriages who were married in states or the District of Columbia until suits now in the federal court system have been heard. This is an administrative decision that will not harm this nation at all. If the courts resolve this issue and over turn section 3 of DOMA, will the President ask anyone for the money to reunite the families torn apart? I don’t think so. Will those subject to deportation continue to pay taxes and live as law abiding residents until they are declared Persona non Grata ? I believe that is what will happen.

    The President has to decide if he believes in the promises of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution or if he wants to be a right-wing religious bigot. In this case there is no middle ground.

  • Asked why Obama didn’t address how the current immigration law directly impacts LGBT Americans, Carney replied, “He gave a pretty long, comprehensive speech.”

    Apparently not. Or does the White House feel we are unworthy of mention?

  • [C]ertainly no legislation can be supposed more wholesome and necessary in the founding of a free, self-governing commonwealth, fit to take rank as one of the coordinate States of the Union, than that which seeks to establish it on the basis of the idea of the family, as consisting in and springing from the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony; the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization; the best guaranty of that reverent morality which is the source of all beneficent progress in social and political improvement.

    Murphy v. Ramsey, 114 U.S. 15, 45 (1885).


    Was the 1967 Loving v Virginia ruling based on the 1967 definition of the word marriage, or was it based on the expanded 1997 definition of the word marriage?

  • Obama is such a disappointment and not just because of his indifference to the plight of gay and lesbian Americans. It doesn’t cost him a thing to suspend deportation of the legal spouses of American citizens. What sort of man goes on record as saying a law is unconstitutional, and then sits by and watches families broken up? I’d like to see him explain to the children and parents of these couples why it’s ok to break up their families. What a spineless wimp. It’s depressing how GOP predictions about him turned out to be true.

  • The right thing to do would be to halt all deportations of same sex binational couples until DOMA is ruled on-naturally, they went the other way.

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