The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 holding that was split on the typical ideological camps, declared unconstitutional the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act.
The Defense of Marriage Act denied federal benefits to same-sex spouses. In declaring the law unconstitutional the majority opinion by Justice Kennedy opined that the law simply; "writes inequality into the entire United States code." Justice Kennedy went on to opine that the law, in of itself, is "demeaning" and "humiliating" to gays and lesbians.
Justice Scalia, in dissent, noted that: "Favoring man-woman marriage no more 'demeans' and 'humiliates' other sexual relationships than favoring our Constitution demeans and humiliates the governmental systems of other countries."
The largest affect for non-Americans will be the benefit of a U.S. spousal visa and permanent residency. Thus, for example, a Korean man that marries an American man will be eligible for a K-1 Fiance visa and permanent residency.
Sean Hayes may be contacted at: SeanHayes@ipglegal.com.
Sean Hayes is co-chair of the Korea Practice Team at IPG Legal. He is the only non-Korean to have worked as an attorney for the Korean court system (Constitutional Court of Korea) and one of the first non-Koreans to be a regular member of a Korean law faculty.