The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a federal law which defines marriage as a “legal union between one man and one woman.” The law states that this definition of marriage must be used to determine the meaning of any Act of Congress, which includes the interpretation of immigration laws.
Based on this definition, gay, same-sex couples have traditionally not been allowed to file a Petition for an Alien Relative (an I-130 application) for their non-citizen spouse because their marriage was not recognized by the federal government. If same-sex couples attempted to petition for their spouse, the immigration officials relied on section 3 of the DOMA to deny the petition.
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