Gabriela & Francisca: Married Lesbian Couple Forced to Live Thousands of Miles Apart Because of DOMA


At the time I met Francisca (who has Mexican and Spanish nationalities) through a mutual friend in 2009, I was living in the U.S., but planning to move to Spain to do a Master’s degree.  Francisca lived and worked in Spain at the time. I can be an inquisitive person at times, and when we met I took the opportunity to ask her all about the city, the cost of living, the geography, the neighborhoods, and some other practical concerns.  We then we began to develop our relationship by communicating over the long distance using Skype, falling more and more in love every day. She started the countdown to the day we were going to see each other for the first time. In those 99 days and twenty something hours our love continued to grow.  And it continued to grow until one day she proposed to me. I said yes.

I settled down in Barcelona and we began our life together. We have lived happy and difficult times together. When the global economic crisis of 2009 began to lash Spain, Francisca changed jobs several times. We learned to persevere in good and bad times and know our strengths and weakness; we learned to love each other without condition. We married in May 2010 and it was the happiest day of our lives.  The only regret was the knowledge that the United States government would not recognize our marriage, or allow me to return to my home and family in the U.S. with my wife.  We understood we were among the lucky ones, but still we were forced to live in exile.  We dream of a beautiful and spiritual ceremony, back in the U.S. with my friends and family, and not just a procedure in a civil court hall as did in Spain.


After many challenging months in Spain, we started to rethink our situation in Spain and we concluded that we could not live there long-term.  We decided instead to move to Puerto Rico where my wonderful, supportive family welcomed Francisca with open arms. Francisca was limited to a 90-day visit to the U.S. and we valued that time.  Francisca and I considered whether some employment offer in the future may qualify her for a temporary work visa, and we talked to a few people. Not surprisingly, no specific offer or plan materialized in this recession.

On the 90th day, Francisca had to leave the country.  On my drive back to the airport, I became envious of all the people who have the opportunity to be with their partner and enjoy each other.  After struggling with that feeling for a time, I have learned to appreciate everything I have in my life including Francisca. We’ve been seeing once a year, and our relationship is growing stronger in spite of the odds.  Although we have our ups and downs, including suffering from bouts of anxiety and depression, we come out stronger and more empowered every time.  She has taught me so much, even how to swim.  I thank God everyday for having her in my life even though she is very far away.

Because of DOMA, we are forced to endure this physical separation.  Like many other binational couples who get up every day with the ache of separation, we also yearn to be reunited, to simply be together.  We know that most Americans believe the consequences of DOMA for binational families are unnecessary and cruel.  However, many still are unaware of the heartbreak that DOMA causes.  That is why we are sharing our story with the DOMA Project.  We encourage you to share our story with friends and family.


We look forward to the day that I can file a green card petition for Francisca. In the meantime we join the many other couples who have shared their story via The DOMA Project and urge all those reading this to sign this petition to President Obama to stop denying green card petitions filed by lesbian and gay gay binational couples. Please sign it and share it with others. Together we will end discrimination that has forced me to live thousands of miles away from Francisca. We will keep fighting for our love, for social justice and for equal rights, and we encourage you to join us in this fight.

Si se puede!

*names have been changed in this story to protect the privacy of the authors



  • Sveta Apodaca

    Gabriela & Francisca,

    I am the DOMA Project volunteer who sketched your wonderful, smiling faces over the photos of you together. I can only hope I have captured the joy on your faces and that unique, shared excitement of two people in love. I feel that you both deserve to look people in the eye as they read your story.

    May your journey against the current of DOMA be swift (especially since you both know how to swim) and may your published story serve as a step toward helping you reunite and build your life together.

    All the best!

    February 12, 2013
    • zoeo


      You are too humble! Your artwork is much more than “sketching” and while we don’t see photographs of Gabriela & Francisca your rendering of their sparkling beauty, joy, and exuberance couldn’t possibly be more life-like. You’ve captured them!

      June 1, 2013
    • Tamara

      Just saw this….Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

      June 29, 2013

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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.