It seems hard to imagine that almost a century ago, women did not have rights, particularly the right to vote. Today, such deprivation is inconceivable. Fortunately, human beings seem to have a dynamic nature, and as a result societal norms follow.
Part of that is the present acknowledgment of gay relationships and marriages. Although the concept of a family as the formidable, fundamental unit of society has its advocates, the structure of what a family is has indeed evolved.
Gay and lesbian relationships are a reality all over the world. No country can claim exclusivity over the existence of these types of relationships. The United States has come forward to formally recognize gay relationships on the federal level, giving these couples rights equal to those of heterosexuals.
Since The Netherlands became the first country to recognize it in 2001, 25 of the 50 countries belonging to the European Union – Belgium, Denmark and France, to name a few — have recognized same-sex marriage. Surprisingly, Ireland and Spain, with their strong Catholic influence, have also recognized gay marriages. Sweden, Norway, South Africa and Canada have incorporated the gay culture and the validity of their marital union into their society.
In the U.S, such change is at its infancy and even seems unacceptable in some areas. Perhaps, we can attribute it to adherence to the beliefs of early settlers in this country who came seeking religious freedom. There are still sporadic communities all over the U.S. where the pure tenets of religion are strictly practiced.
After a U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that the “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) refers to “marriage” as including “same-sex” marriage, resistance has been felt among those whose religious beliefs strongly oppose the concept of gay relationships. Whether we like it or not, Kim Davis has definitely become a household name.
If this is the society that values the “rule of law” under which everyone has the legal obligation “to follow the law”, there is no question that Kim Davis is simply wrong. As an elected civil servant she cannot assert her own religious belief (against gay marriages) over and above her responsibility as a county clerk who upholds the law – that is to issue marriage licenses equally to same-sex couples who qualify and who want to get married.
We may wonder how immigration can be affected by Kim Davis’s recalcitrance. Alien-fiancé/es of U.S. citizens come from all over the world, including countries with centuries-old Catholic, Islamic or other religious teachings. There is very little chance of a societal upheaval when gay unions may be recognized in these countries. Thus, gay partners who are U.S. citizens will not be able to marry them in their countries and later petition them as their spouses.
The only way for them to be together in the United States is by or through fiancée/fiancé visas. Kim Davis’s actions (and others similarly inclined) would delay or hinder making these dreams into reality if they make an issue over each and every same-sex marriage license application that comes their way.
Even if the case is eventually won in court, the delay would have already caused damage. For alien-fiancé/es, they have only 90 days within which to marry in the U.S. Violating this rule would prove fatal to their status, and they could suffer removal from this country if the marriage does not legally occur within the 90-day period from entry. A county clerk’s refusal to sign marriage licenses based on a firm belief that they are adhering to their religious conscience can have long-term, negative effects on fiancée visa holders.
Have you imagined that the action of a Kentucky civil registrar (Davis) can sabotage your fiancé/e visa? The “Kim Davies effect” should not be taken for granted in the immigration scenario.