Homeland Security denounced for redefining 'family relationships'

By Michelle Bauman

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Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is drawing flak for its decision to instruct U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to recognize same-sex partnerships in making immigration decisions.

"In an effort to make clear the definition of the phrase 'family relationships,' I have directed ICE to disseminate written guidance to the field that the interpretation of the phrase 'family relationships' includes long-term, same-sex partners," said Janet Napolitano, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.

The commitment to redefine “family relationships” to include same-sex couples came in a Sept. 27 letter to legislators who had called on the department to specifically mention homosexual partnerships in its immigration guidelines.

Family ties are among the factors included in department guidelines for “prosecutorial discretion” in determining whether an immigrant will receive a stay of deportation.

As with other factors, Napolitano explained, “the applicability of the 'family relationships' factor is weighed on an individualized basis” when considering “whether prosecutorial discretion is appropriate.”

But Napolitano’s decision to did not sit well with advocates of preserving the meaning of marriage and existing federal law.

“This is just another example of the federal government trying to skirt the Defense of Marriage Act,” said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage.

“The reality is that this administration, whenever it has had a chance, has tried to undermine the Defense of Marriage Act,” Brown told EWTN News on Oct. 2.

This has been done through the Obama administration’s refusal to defend the 1996 law in court, its repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and recent “changes in administrative procedures in relation to the family,” he said.

While the administration has seen a pushback against its efforts – including a commitment by Speaker of the House John Boehner to defend the law – much of the federal bureaucracy seems to have “been given a free pass to undermine DOMA,” he observed. “I think it’s trickling down into agency after agency.”

“It’s clear that you’re not going to be able to overturn DOMA through Congress,” he explained, so instead, same-sex unions are being promoted “incrementally through administrative changes.”

“The question is whether people will wake up and say enough is enough,” Brown remarked.

He believes that “marriage is going to be a key issue” in the upcoming election.

“People are suffering. The economy is bad,” he acknowledged. “But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t voting their values. This is going to be a major issue this election.”

Brown explained that the exact states that Obama needs to win in order to succeed in the election are the same states that have “overwhelmingly” voted to preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

This is “not a winning issue” for Obama, he said.

And Brown believes that voters can see the differences between the candidates in this election.

“The two sides could not be further apart. Their positions are clear,” he said. “It’s just that simple.”

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