Gay Marriage Meets Immigration Reform A foreign same-sex spouse can't apply for citizenship By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff Posted Sep 13, 2010 10:07 AM CDT 19 comments Comments Brazilian-born Genesio Oliveira, 31, left, and his husband Tim Coco, 49, of Haverhill, Mass., stand together at their home in Haverhill, Friday, June 4, 2010. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) (Newser) – Gay couples can marry in five states and Washington DC, but if one spouse is a foreigner, he or she still still can't apply for US citizenship—at least not through his or her spouse. Because the federal government doesn't recognize gay marriage, only foreign-born spouses of heterosexual citizens need apply. Pushing for change is proving tricky: Many advocates of an immigration overhaul fear adding gay and lesbian rights to the immigration agenda will "further jeopardize chances for a fair and bipartisan compromise," as the Conference of Catholic Bishops says. About 24,000 gay and lesbian couples include at least one foreign partner, the Washington Post reports. "I grew up looking to this country for its ideals and really believe strongly that it is about equality, freedom, and opportunity," says one such spouse. "It is too bad that a small minority are still treated as second-class citizens.'' But, insists one reverend, "It is not a matter of being anti-anything but being pro-immigration reform. It is not fair to morph the immigration agenda with the same-sex agenda." For more on immigration reform, click here.