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With harsh new laws persecuting sexual minorities threatening the Winter Olympics and thus making headlines even on ESPN, petitions demanding that the U.S. grant asylum to LGBT Russians are circulating on the internet.  The good news for any lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender Russian living in the United States is that you may already be eligible for asylum.  For asylum claims, sexual identity or sexual orientation is considered a "social group," so a person who is persecuted based on sexual identity or orientation may make a claim for asylum.

The first recognition of sexual minorites as a protected class came in 1986, when a Cuban "Marielito" was granted withholding of removal by an immigration judge who determined that he must not be deported back to Cuba because he was certain to face imprisonment and mistreatment as a registered homosexual. The case was appealed, and the Board of Immigration Appeals upheld the judge's decision, in Matter of Toboso-Alfonso in 1990. (Decision a...
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Yesterday was a banner day for the "Marriage Equality" movement in the United States.  In United States v. Windsor, the Supreme court struck down the federal "Defense of Marriage Act," (DOMA) a 1996 law which defined "marriage" as a union between a man and a woman for purposes of federal laws.  

When it was enacted, DOMA really just codified the status quo; no jurisdiction had yet recognized marriage between partners of the same sex. The law was a preemptive strike at a time when the earliest gay marriage cases were under consideration in the Hawaiian courts.  The situation now is vastly different.

Marriage equality, defined as recognizing same-sex marriages in the same way as opposite-sex marriages, has been gaining steam for the past decade.  As recently as ten years ago opponents of same-sex marriage could claim the "will of the people" was against marriage equality, because no state had legislatively granted same-sex marriage rights and many states had passed laws or constitutiona...
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