Meet Our Team: Sveta, Brianna, Justin and Derek

Since the launch of The DOMA Project’s Stop the Deportations, Separations and Exile campaign in July 2010, we have successfully raised the profile of the impact of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on lesbian and gay binational couples.  Along the way, we have provided directly legal services on a pro bono basis to scores of binational couples who are coping with heartbreaking and financially catastrophic separation, nightmare deportation scenarios, and forced exile.

Our campaign, run entirely by volunteer effort and headed up by attorneys Lavi Soloway and Noemi Masliah, has concentrated with a laser-sharp focus on DOMA and its impact. We have called on the Executive Branch to fulfill its promise, to ensure that the harm of DOMA is mitigated in every way possible. The administration can immediately act to protect all lesbian and gay binational couples. The Department of Homeland Security must institute a moratorium on deportations of spouses/partners of lesbian and gay Americans, accept green card cases filed by married lesbian and gay couples and hold them in abeyance; and extend humanitarian parole to permit all exiled and separated couples to be able to live in the United States legally until the final fate of DOMA is determined by Congress or the Supreme Court.

On November 21 we launched this new website and we now take this opportunity to introduce you to our team.

Sveta Apodaca has been a continuing help to Stop the Deportations, handling the complicated challenge of this project’s web presence (and most recently our blog’s re-launch).  She is also the immigrant half of a binational couple and directly affected by DOMA.  Inspired by dedication, vision, and courage of the DOMA Project’s founders, contributors, and participants, Sveta began volunteering shortly after she and her wife Andi achieved victory in court in summer with the assistance of Lavi Soloway and Stop the Deportations: the DOMA Project.  She is currently lending her talent and skills to help create and maintain this website.

Brianna Howard, after recently interning at Senator Barbara Boxer’s Office and Loyola Law School’s Center for Juvenile Law and Policy, has now joined the project as an intern for Stop the Deportations this fall.  She has been helping the project by initiating correspondence with the couples and gathering their stories to share for the campaign. She finds the experience of working for the project and its attorney, Lavi Soloway, exciting and empowering. As she gets her first taste of the legal world and struggles of the LGBT binational community, she hopes the project and its work can help to eliminate the bitter sting of DOMA.

Justin Ho was born in Chicago and grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. where he was raised on a daily diet of C-SPAN, NPR, and PBS.  He graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry in 2002 from the California Institute of Technology, where he also completed graduate work in Materials Science.  A year living overseas in Denmark served as the inspiration for his policy interest in gay rights, and for a piece he published in theAdvocate. He hopes to leverage nerdy, left-brained tendencies in his capacity as a strategist and consultant for the DOMA Project.

Derek Tripp, started as a legal intern in the spring of 2011, is now working as our project’s dedicated Project Associate.  A graduate and LGBT Rights Fellow of Hofstra University School of Law, he’s been responding to couples who have reached out to get involved and assisting with the work of representing couples who have become part of our campaign. Derek is excited to continue working with the project’s attorneys at Masliah & Soloway to ensure that the injustices of DOMA do not keep any more families apart.

(Read more about Sveta, Brianna, Justin and Derek on the “About Us” page.)

As our team grows, we continue working tirelessly to bring about changes and bring us closer to full equality.  Your continued efforts, participation, and generosity are key to our success. Please get in touch and find out how you can get involved.

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  • Thank you so much for helping….I am a US born and raised citizen and Navy veteran. I want to marry my partner who lives in the Amsterdam area of the Netherlands and have us both live here in the states. Unfortunatley due to DOMA, this is not possible. It is criminal that our country allows this. America is legally discriminating against us. Yet we pay taxes, contribut to society, serve our country and are still 2nd rate people. I’m trying my part as well by sending my petition through FB and Twitter…what else can we do? I want to marry my partner and have him move to the USA…Thank you for helping all of us!

    December 4, 2011
    • Barbara

      Grant, my partner and I were in the same but reversed situation. She is American, I am Dutch. I came to the US in 2005 on an F1 visa, worked my way through an associates and a bachelors degree and since this year have an H1-B visa. Going to community college in the US was the easiest legal way for us to be here together.

      December 8, 2011

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This is a pro-bono project of the law firm of Masliah & Soloway, PC. Posts on this website are offered for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. The law firm of Masliah & Soloway, PC has offices in New York and Los Angeles. Our practice is limited to U.S. Immigration & Nationality Law.