- 08.02.13 05:32 PM EDT
Speaking at the US embassy in London, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the United States will begin treating the visa applications of gay couples equally. The policy applies to American and foreign couples and says that as long as they were married somewhere that recognizes their union, the US will treat them as married.
“Effective immediately, when same-sex spouses apply for a visa, the Department of State will consider that application in the same manner that it will consider the application of opposite-sex spouses," Kerry said. “If you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen, your visa application will be treated equally. If you are the spouse of a noncitizen your visa application will be treated equally.”
The change means that a same-sex couple legally married in France or England, where same-sex marriage is legal, would be treated the same as any couple if they came to the US. Similarly, if an American marries his foreign, same-sex partner in a state with marriage equality, the foreign partner's visa application will be treated equally -- potentially clearing the way for a large number of gay couples who'd feared for one spouse's deportation.