The Supreme Court said the Federal government must give the same benefits to married gay couples as they now give to all other couples. Legally married same-sex couples will now be eligible for more than 1,000 federal laws and benefits, including social security and health care.
Gay couples must have been married in states that allow same-sex marriages.
The ruling affects the estimated 36,000 couples in which one person is not an American. The American spouse may now apply for a green card for their non-American spouse. Only those who are are legally married are eligible.
Advocates for immigration reform tried to insert a provision for same-sex couples into the immigration bill. Conservatives said this would cause them to vote against the bill. The clause was removed. Now, the Supreme Court has made the decision with regard to federal benefits.
Proposition 8 in California banned same-sex marriage. The Court said the ban will fall and unmarried same-sex couples in California soon will be able to marry.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) oversees the visa application process for all foreigners. DHS said it would now allow U.S. citizens to petition for their same-sex foreign spouses just like other married couples. All married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of immigration laws.
Supporters of same-sex marriage and immigration reform were elated. They noted that most of the states in the U.S. do not allow same-sex marriage. However, one-third of all the people affected by the rulings live in states where same-sex marriage is legal (see the chart). The ruling does not cover states that allow civil unions.
Observers note that the trend toward extending rights to same-sex couples will grow. Opponents vowed they would do all they could to see that more states do not approve same-sex marriage.