By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com August 03 2013 7:30 AM ET
Following the lead of the Department of Homeland Security, Secretary of State John Kerry announced Friday that the U.S. State Department will immediately begin offering visas to married same-sex couples in the same fashion it does to married opposite-sex couples.
Kerry made the announcement at the U.S. Embassy in London Friday morning, citing the recent landmark rulings from the Supreme Court in support of marriage equality.
"One of our most important exports by far is America’s belief in the equality of all people," said Kerry. "Now, our history shows that we haven’t always gotten it right."
But Kerry said Friday marked a day when America did, in fact, get it right.
"I’m very pleased to be able to announce that effective immediately, when same-sex spouses apply for a visa, the Department of State will consider that application in the same manner that it will consider the application of opposite-sex spouses," he explained. "And here is exactly what this rule means: If you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen, your visa application will be treated equally. If you are the spouse of a non-citizen, your visa application will be treated equally. And if you are in a country that doesn’t recognize your same-sex marriage, then your visa application will still be treated equally at every single one of our 222 visa processing centers around the world."
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano issued a statement last month confirming that married-same sex couples would be treated like married opposite-sex couples for immigration purposes. Immediately after, a gay couple in Florida became the first to receive approval for a green card based on their legal marriage.
On July 4, a lesbian couple from Colorado became the first same-sex couple to actually receive a green card. Cathy and Catronia Davis have three children, and were married in Iowa last year because Colorado does not recognize same-sex marriage — though the state enacted civil unions earlier this year. Immigration equality advocates note that the Davis family's case proves that the federal government is prepared to recognize and treat equally same-sex spouses who were married in a state where it's legal, even if they reside in a state that does not embrace marriage equality.