LISTEN: NPR Interview with Judy Rickard and Lavi Soloway on the Front Lines of the Fight Against DOMA
“We were at a point in the summer of 2010, I really felt that if couples started to tell their stories and didn’t take “no” for an answer but insisted on holding the Immigration Service accountable, requiring the Immigration Service to actually put in writing that it was going to discriminate against them solely because they were gay, that we could begin a dialogue with the government and offer solutions, offer ways to stop families from being torn apart. We were very successful in the deportation context, and there were several high profile cases involving lesbian and gay couples that would have been torn apart by deportation and the Obama administration stepped in and stopped that from happening. Now we are making the same arguments. You believe this law is unconstitutional. You believe also that you have to continue to enforce it so you cannot approve these cases at this time, but you have a third way: to treat each couple with dignity and respect to treat them like every other couple and to withhold a final decision on their case if it cannot be approved and put it in writing that the only reason it is not being approved is the Defense of Marriage Act, and prepare for a post-DOMA universe where we are all equal under the law.
We are chipping away [at DOMA] because we are forcing an immigration office in San Jose, or an immigration office in Albany, New York to sit down with a gay couple and look at them eye-to-eye and talk to them about their finances, their cohabitation, and their life together and make a record that this is a real marriage. Today those cases cannot be approved, but we never had those interviews before and we are starting to have them. We never had these conversations before and we are starting to have them. If we don’t step up, if we sit back and wait for something to happen, then I think we are making a mistake, we are treating our own civil rights like a spectator sport. I think you have to roll up your sleeves, and you have to get in there.” – Lavi Soloway