The DOMA Project Keeps Up the Fight to End Deportations, Separation and Exile of Binational Couples

Twenty-seven months ago, in July 2010, we launched The DOMA Project to refocus the fight for binational couples around DOMA. By 2010, we had worked for more than seventeen years on this issue, and we believed that the timing was right to embark on a strategic reframing of these issues around DOMA. Our goals were: first, defeating DOMA in the court of public opinion (and thus contribute to its demise whether legislatively or by courts) and secondly, most importantly, to develop, advocate, and see the implementation of interim remedial policies that would to end the deportations, separations and exile of binational couples.

The DOMA Project campaign was launched by our boutique immigration law firm (founded by two gay immigrants) that has long been prominently involved the leadership of the fight for binational couples, and has committed significant resources to fighting for Marriage Equality. Almost twenty years ago we founded Immigration Equality and in the late 1990s we helped write the legislation now known as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) that is currently pending in Congress.  Since launching The DOMA Project two years ago we have dedicated our personal and professional time and energy and donated thousands of hours of pro bono legal services. We have also built a team of volunteers and engaged hundreds of binational couples on the front-lines of this grass roots campaign.

The courageous founding couples that joined this campaign in 2010 led an unprecedented national advocacy campaign that finally resulted in the tremendous victory: written policy to stop the DOMA deportations just a week ago. Before we launched The DOMA Project, binational couples did not have the support and resources to organize a fight against “DOMA Deportations.”

We have filed and continue to fight for fiancée visa petitions, humanitarian parole, and every policy initiative that will return our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters from exile to their American families.

None of our campaign’s work is severable; our mission is about telling our stories, and winning policy changes that end the catastrophic impact DOMA has on our marriages, our families and our communities.  Our campaign staff’s and volunteers’ personal experiences as lesbian and gay immigration attorneys, lesbian and gay immigrants, and as binational couples ourselves, inform every aspect of our work. None of this work is independent of any other aspect of this work. Every success is equally important, inextricably linked and mutually supportive of all three primary areas of focus (deportation, separation and exile).

Since July 2010, we have teamed with numerous organizations such as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against DefamationLambda Legal, Freedom to MarryGetEqualGay & Lesbian Advocates & DefendersOut4Immigration, and many others to fight for policies that protect our families and keep us together until DOMA is relegated to the dustbin of history. We have developed a tremendously successful partnership with the DeVote Campaign to tell the stories of binational couples through video vignettes which are being produced as we speak and wil be rolled out in the coming weeks.  We are engaged in an exhaustive, multi-prong effort to empower binational couples and give us a platform to tell our stories as part of making change happen: for those in the U.S., those abroad, and those separated.

We do not believe in sitting on the sidelines or resting on one victory, though each hard fought win to save a couple from being torn apart should be honored and celebrated. We do not believe the fight for social justice and civil rights can be a spectator sport.  We work hard to ensure that we maintain a relentlessly positive and respectful campaign for change, in which we assume our own equality, and fight laws and policies.  It is not our goal to build another organization with lasting infrastructure. We are collaborators who eagerly generate innovative policy solutions and creative legal strategies. We are careful about the terminology we use in this endeavor, because we cannot be empowered if we are unable to articulate a clear message. We respect and honor every couple’s different experience when impacted by DOMA in this context.  With our extremely limited resources, we have built a platform that has brought these stories to a worldwide audience and to the highest levels of our government. And change is happening.

But our work depends on individuals stepping forward to make change happen. This campaign is a campaign of stories of empowerment, of lived experiences, and of our voices. It is not a campaign built on criticism of one tactic over another and it is not a campaign that has any hierarchy of suffering. We are all in this together to achieve change for all our families.

We urge anyone who wants to support our work or get involved to contact us at [email protected]. We cannot achieve our goals without your financial support. The volunteers, including the attorneys, have donated the most, but we need everyone who can contribute to give what they can. Donations are tax deductible and go to our fiscal sponsor 501c3 organization the Love Honor Cherish Foundation which in turn dispenses the funds raised, dollar for dollar, to The DOMA Project. We have logged thousands of volunteer hours this year.  Many couples participating in The DOMA Project contribute financially to help fund to their own legal challenges and all get directly involved in our advocacy, but the value of this legal work cannot be fully realized unless we are also able to cover the our of pocket costs involved in our cases and our advocacy, and have sufficient resources to involve as many couples as possible. Please help us making a donation today.

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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.