DOMA Forces Mother and Son to Move to the U.K. to Start a New Life Where Her Relationship is Recognized

Ris and Bree

Ris and Bree

My wife and I met by chance.

UsWe both say it was divine intervention. It had to be. Our worlds would have never intersected without it. I was a ‘heterosexual’ female married with a child living in a small town in the Midwest. She was a ‘heterosexual’ female with a long-term boyfriend who shared a home in northwestern England. Independently of each other, we both had long sensed that we were in fact gay and decided to test the waters by logging on to a lesbian chat app.

Neither of us had been logged on long before I came across her photo. A photo I never should have seen. The app was set to only bring up other users within a certain radius from your location. Nonetheless we began chatting.

I was smitten at first chat! We couldn’t get enough of each other that entire day. It was the one of the best days of my life until tragedy struck my world.

That night my father unexpectedly passed away from a massive heart attack. I was devastated and it changed my outlook on everything. My father was young, only 56. If I only had twenty more years on this Earth I wasn’t going to waste it.

As a grieved for my father I leaned on Risa for support. I don’t know how I would have made it through that time without her.


Funny thing is that chat app quit working after that first day. We were never able to log onto it again. Good thing we had already exchanged email and Facebook profiles.

Many emails, Facebook chats and phone calls strengthened our bond. I knew I was in love.


We both ended our previous relationships. We began chatting on Skype and finally met in person. We decided to spend the rest of our lives together.

We spent all our savings travelling between the US and the UK. In the end the decision was made that I would move to England. It was a hard decision. The U.S. government wouldn’t recognize our relationship. The United Kingdom would.


It wasn’t fair. I had a great job. I had friends and family who I didn’t want to leave. I had a son who had to make the hard decision, move with mom or stay behind with dad.

We had a great life in the U.S. and because of DOMA we had to give it all up. I sold everything I owned to afford the visas and airfare to go to the United Kingdom. My son and I moved to England just with what we could pack in a couple suitcases.

Ris and Bree at Stonehenge

It took over a year for me to find work in the U.K. Adjusting wasn’t easy. We set up a special phone line so that we could keep in contact with family. At first we would receive care packages from home but the cost of postage between the two countries is high. The expense to stay in the country is even higher.

My son has special needs. In the U.S. he was entitled to benefits. In the U.K. we were entitled to none. I felt that I was no longer a citizen of any country. It is a depressing feeling. Not that everything would have been easier in the U.S. but at least I would have had family to rely on. Here I felt cut off from everything I knew.


I am American, the home of the free and brave. The greatest country on Earth, which forced me to choose my country or my wife. I chose my wife. I never should have been placed in that situation.

It’s time for the United States to apologise to every bi-national couple they have hurt over the years. It’s time for my country to rid itself of DOMA and ensure equality under the law for all its citizens. That is why we are sharing our story.

Our families matter. We must not remain silent.

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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.