John Kerry US Embassy London
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses employees at the U.S. Embassy in London. Photo: State Department/Public Domain
Same-gender Couples granted Visa Equality

Secretary of State John Kerry uses London Embassy visit to declare visa applications for homosexual couples will be treated the same as for heterosexual couples
August 5, 2013

Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the issue of visa applications from same-sex couples during this week's visit to London. He told a gathering at the U.S. Embassy in the UK that as long as marriages were valid under local laws wher the marriage took place, they would be respected as valid for US immigration purposes.

After thanking US Embassy workers for their hard work in processing visa applications, Secretary Kerry told Embassy and consular employees that "One of our most important exports by far is America's belief in the equality of all people."

He continued: "Today is one of those days. 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 ... 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."

"Now, as long as a marriage has been performed in a jurisdiction that recognizes it so that it is legal, then that marriage is valid under U.S. immigration laws, and every married couple will be treated exactly the same, and that is what we believe is appropriate. Starting next year, that will include same-sex couples from England and Wales, which just this year passed laws permitting same-sex marriage that will take effect in 2014."

Explaining the timeline of the policy, Secretary Kerry went on: "More than two years ago, President Obama instructed our Department of Justice to stop enforcing DOMA. Then just a few weeks ago, the Supreme Cou rt of the United States declared DOMA unconstitutional. Today, the State Department, which has always been at the forefront of equality in the federal government, I'm proud to say, is tearing down an unjust and an unfair barrier that for too long stood in the way of same-sex families being able to travel as a family to the United States."

"Those of you working today in the consular section will make history when you issue some of the first visas to same-sex couples, and you will be some of the first faces to welcome them to the United States.

"This year marks the 50th anniversary of the famous march on Washington and of Martin Luther King's unbelievably eloquent and historic plea for equality. So that is where the dream was declared, the march goes on, this is several more steps in that march."

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