If you marry your sweetie from Tahiti and then legally immigrate to the U.S., you both can get green cards. But if you get your green card before marrying, your sweetie will be stuck abroad on a four year waiting list.
Meanwhile, the U.S. won’t give a visitor visa to a foreigner who married a lawful U.S. resident out of fear the non-resident spouse might (horrors!) stay in the U.S. with the U.S. spouse!
So for the next several years, your spouse can’t come here to live or to visit. If you move abroad to live with your spouse, you forfeit your green card. And if you don’t live together somewhere, the government will question the bona fides of your marriage.
What’s a husband or wife to do?
State laws govern marriage. Putting aside gender-related conflicts on who can marry whom, if a state says you’re married, you’re married. Period. And your reasons for marrying are your own. But if USCIS bureaucrats disapprove of the reasons for which they think you married, even American citizens may be barred from living with their lawfully wedded spouses in the United States.
“Family values,” indeed. And so typical of our immigration system.