Gay U.S. Army Veteran Sacrifies Home and Financial Security, Uprooted and Forced into Exile By DOMA

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Jay and I met in a chat room online back in 2009. For a year we simply chatted every day. Neither of us knew what the other even looked like until late 2009 when we decided to try Skype. From the very first day we chatted, Jay and I just clicked. In spite of the fact that Jay was from the Phillipines, we had a lot of the same dreams, likes, and values. In 2010, I scraped up all the money I could, and I flew for the very first time across the world to visit him. During the 15+ hour flight I was filled with anxiety and joy. I remember walking out of the airport at night, looking for Jay among so many others waiting there in the darkness. I remember spotting him. He was jumping up and down. Needless to say, we were elated! For the very first time, we were able to hold each other’s hand, put our arms around each other, and kiss (in privacy of course!). The two weeks were wonderful and time flew by. Soon, we were faced with saying goodbye.

It hurts me so much to remember that day. I will only say that nobody should have to feel that way. After about 6 months, we planned a second trip. This time we traveled to Jay’s hometown on Panay Island. After those two weeks, we were once again faced with the a painful series of goodbyes. I remember trying to not make a big deal about it. I thought that maybe just a hug and get going would be easier. No, it wasn’t. We embraced each other so very tight. We never wanted to let each other go. Even after we let go, I couldn’t stop turning back to see him. The final goodbye was a hand wave. Jay was on one side of security and I was on the other. I began to lose it; I started to cry intensely, all the while trying to hide myself from view.

When I returned home, Jay and I knew one thing. We couldn’t be apart any longer. Because Jay is from the Phillipines, he must apply for a visitor’s visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy to even visit the U.S. In developing countries like the Phillipines, visitor visa applicants face the burden of proving they do not intend to remain in the U.S. Generally, only the most privileged of Filipinos are able to provide sufficient evidence of ties to their country to get a visitor visa to the U.S. Sadly, Jay is not so fortunate. So, I started to do what I had to do. Within a week, I announced to my family that I was moving to the Philippines to be with Jay. I couldn’t help but explain myself over and over again, as to why I had to go. In the next 3 months, I sold everything I owned. I sold my small house, my car, and nearly all other possessions at yard sales. I also left my government job with the U.S. Army. The hardest part of all was saying goodbye to my family. My adult daughter was distraught with disbelief that I was forced to leave my own country. To this day, she is still overcome by my leaving. My parents, who are both in their late 70s, hugged me goodbye with tears in their eyes and hope in their hearts. Though it was difficult to uproot myself from my country, I was so driven to be with the person I loved with all my heart and soul. There were no doubts, no looking back.

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Michael and Jay’s house in the Phillipines

Since June 2012, Jay and I have lived together in a small concrete house surrounded by farmland. Here in the Phillipines, we have little financial security. Earning just $200 per month is not very assuring if either of us has a serious injury or health complication. I am in my 40s, so my government veteran’s pension is still more than a decade away.

Last December, we had an opportunity to Skype with my family back in the U.S. who were celebrating Christmas. It was so so difficult for me. With exception of my mom, my family was seeing Jay for the very first time. As much as I know that my family loves me, words cannot describe how empty I feel without them. In many ways, it seems as though they are moving on with their lives, busy, as is life in the U.S. Every day, we hope and pray that DOMA will go away. My daughter is getting married in September 2013 to her best friend and life partner. As much as I’ve tried to explain and emphasize why I had to leave and be here with Jay, it is still very difficult for her to deal with the fact that I left. I am not sure there is a better example of how negatively DOMA has affected us. If it weren’t for DOMA, Jay and I could share our lives together surrounded by the love of my family and friends. Fortunately, Jay and I live a few miles from  his mother, sister and brother and we have their love and support. Without them, it would be that much tougher.

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As I sit and write this story, I am torn. I am torn between loving a person so very much and a family that is a world away. Every day I try to be the best partner I can. Some days are not fair to Jay, as I sob with homesickness. Yesterday, Jay told me for the first time, that my unhappiness was showing in my face and spirit. While we cried and held each other’s hands, he said too me that he loves me so much. He doesn’t want to see me hurting anymore. If I could no longer go on here, I would need to return home, and he would have to let me go. I cannot begin to even remotely tell you how sad this has made me. We sobbed endlessly. I never wanted our relationship to come to this. I told Jay that I will would never leave him even if it meant living in an unfamiliar country, so very far from my family.

Emerging from our tears, we have learned not to lose hope. I would never wish our circumstances on anyone. That being said, we have been challenged to grow and love during this time of great insecurity. Our love for each other continues to grow. As a result, we feel empowered to reach out and help others by sharing our story. No American should be forced into these circumstances.

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In my service to this country, I learned the value of looking out for one another. I hope that you’ll do your part by sharing our story or even by sharing your own. In doing so, we continue to build pressure and awareness of the immeasurable harm that DOMA continues to cause to binational gay and lesbian families, harms that must cease the minute DOMA is eliminated. Jay and I and the thousands of other gay and lesbian binational couples deserve no less.

Mindi and Bev: A Love Story That Began Almost Three Decades Ago, Continues With a Fight to Be Together in the U.S.

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Mindi and Bev

We first met almost 28 years ago, when I was a college exchange student in London and Bev was on her young adult walk-about off that big island called Australia. We met on a month-long tour through Europe before my semester began. While atop the 7000-foot high Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland, Bev and I stumbled upon a cave on a fateful moonlit summer night. It was an idyllic evening with the moon shining into the cave. That was a life changing moment that would come to impact both of our lives in more ways than we ever imagined. We fell in love at that time and didn’t want our romance abroad to end.

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London 1985

Bev ditched her friends with whom she was going to continue traveling and extended her leave from work just to stay with me in London. It was devastating to experience that first departure when Bev had to return to Australia that winter. Each and every separation that would come thereafter was no easier.

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Rome 1985

After completing my semester in London, I returned to my college and family in New Jersey, with a heavy heart without Bev. We wrote long letters to each other every day, and had to wait around one week to receive each letter through the post. There was no Internet, no Skype, and no texting in existence for us at that time. We each had stacks of letters and cassette tapes of us talking to each other. We spent a fortune on phone bills as we were insistent on being able to at least talk to each other for an hour every other week.

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A whole year went by before we were able to see each other again. Bev scrimped and saved enough to be able to come visit me in New Jersey a year later for three months. I was still a college student, working part-time, and we simply appreciated just being able to be together over those three months. I tried to get Bev the “white Christmas” she had always dreamed of by planning our Christmas in Boston. Doesn’t it always snow up there around Christmas? Apparently not; it rained, and that didn’t even matter in the end since we got to spend Christmas together. From Boston, we went on to see our nations’ capital for New Year’s. It did snow there, just a bit late for Christmas. Our last few weeks together were then spent in San Francisco and Hawaii. It was in Hawaii when we parted again for another devastating separation. Bev went back to her job in Australia, and I returned back to college life in NJ.

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While we were very much in love, we weren’t able to work out a way for us to be together permanently. The letters and phone calls continued on for another several years. A point finally came when we had to just stop contact altogether, just to keep our then separate lives somewhat functional.

17 years passed by without any contact between us. We each had moved on and, in the process, we had lost track of each other. I was at work one Monday in late 2009 when I had to retrieve a personal email from my cell phone. I nearly fell off my chair when I saw a Facebook email from Bev in my inbox. I was not really a Facebook user at all; my profile on Facebook included a photo of a dog, and in fact, I put a profile on Facebook only because of my 13 year-old niece. As it turned out, Bev wasn’t a Facebook user either. She ventured on just to search for me. She wasn’t sure if she found the right person, but she last knew that I was living in San Francisco, and she knew I loved dogs (my profile photo). Her email message was somewhat encrypted with references that only I would recognize. She wanted to make sure she found the right one. She did. My heart pounded all day and I was completely unproductive at work. The emails started and then the phone calls. We were both able to really appreciate the technological upgrades that had taken place over the years. Many years had gone by, but the one thing that never left either one of us was that burning feeling inside for each other.

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New Jersey 1986

We started talking about planning our in person reunion. It was my turn to go to her country this time. When we tried to figure out the timing, I thought we should wait out the next seven months so we could celebrate our birthdays together for our first time, which are one day apart. My ulterior motive (not shared with Bev at the time) was that I really wanted to lose some weight before seeing the love of my life again for the first time after not seeing her for 23 years. Bev was exasperated and was not about to wait seven months for our reunion. I relented and agreed to three months. I was going to meet Bev in Sydney around Mardi Gras. I was lucky to be able to get a month off of work and go half way around the world to reunite with Bev after 23 years. The flight and getting through customs seemed to take forever. I finally got through when Bev, at a petite 5’1”, leaped over the barrier and ran up to me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a stretch limousine waiting, along with a chilled bottle of champagne inside the limo. That was the first time we saw each other; we had not used Skype during the months we were back in touch and we only exchanged a couple of current photos of each other. We spent two weeks in Australia and two weeks traveling around the South Island of New Zealand. We had to keep pinching each other to make sure this was all really happening.

Bev was able to take a leave of absence from her job and return to the U.S. with me. We were able to have a somewhat normal life as a couple in the U.S. for the next 15 months, but Bev then had to leave the country and return to Australia. We were apart again, working hard to find a way to get Bev back to our home in the U.S. We were able to get another visa for her to return five months later. While we could more easily set up our home in Australia together as Bev can sponsor me as her partner, my parents are getting older, while Bev’s parents are deceased, so it made sense for us to settle down in the U.S. It would be much better for us to be able to get legally married and for me to sponsor Bev for a green card as my spouse, than to rely on a temporary work visa.  We do feel lucky that we are together, and we know we will be together for the rest of our lives, wherever that might be.

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The point for us is that destiny is too strong to get in the way of us being together at this point, wherever we are in the world. We have learned that love has no borders and neither DOMA nor the U.S. government will come in between our love.  We feel it is important to share our story, because we too have struggled since 2009 to find a way to be together and build a home in this country. Brick by brick we are dismantling discrimination by sharing our stories.

Together for 25 Years Through Thick and Thin, Lynne and Alexis Share Their Story: Why We Must Defeat DOMA

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Lynne & Alexis

I am Lynne, a US citizen in a domestic partnership with my Canadian life partner, Alexis. Though many see us as “married,” we legally cannot marry in California, and even if we could our marriage would not be recognized by the federal government. Each year we hope that this is the year we’ll finally be able to marry and have our relationship fully recognized so that, as a citizen, I can sponsor my wife for a green card, just as other American citizens are able to.

I was raised in a sleepy suburb of Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley during the 1960s and 1970s. During this time, I was unaware of the discrimination that was prevalent toward gays and lesbians. I felt an attraction to a female friend when I was a girl, but knew somehow I could not mention this. I remember my older brother telling me, that two girls kissing each other was wrong and illegal. Hence, my first lesson of living in the shadows.

As I grew up and moved out on my own and entered the work force, I was drawn to and worked in non-traditional work for women in the mid-1970s. I worked in various positions of Shipping and Warehouse Management and have progressed into Logistics Analysis.

During the 1980s, I became aware of and got involved with the gay community. I was heavily involved with a group that helped gays and lesbians with the coming out process. I was involved first as a participant and then became a facilitator for leading discussion groups to help assist individuals with issues in coming out. During this time, “coming out” meant coming out to your family, not necessarily the world. I was still very deep in the closet where the rest of the world was concerned. I came out to my mother and sister and younger brother and though it was rough at first, my family began to understand and embrace me. After Alexis and I met and became a couple, my family embraced her as a member of our family. Alexis’ family accepted me fully as well. Her brother and his family come down from Canada and stay with us on their vacations as we are not able to cross the border into Canada to visit them.

Before I met Alexis, I had been in two gay relationships — one of eight years and one of two years duration. And though those relationships were meaningful I did not know or realize what real love was until Alexis and I became a couple. I had never met any binational couples before and was not aware of the restrictions they lived under. Yet I knew that when Alexis told me of these restrictions, there was nothing that could or would deter me from living the rest of my life with her. She is my life.

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While I was growing up in California, Alexis grew up in Vancouver, BC, Canada, within a strict Mennonite community. Her father was a rigid fundamentalist minister. In high school, she excelled in the arts and dreamed of attending art school. Her father believed art was not a “real career” and pressed her to attend bible school, as all of her relatives did. After winning a fine arts scholarship in 1976, Alexis began saving and planning to attend school for a career in the arts.

In 1979, Alexis entered the United States on a student visa. She attended design school and worked part-time. During this time, she met her first gay partner and learned very quickly that gays and lesbian were not treated equally as heterosexual couples. She naively assumed they could legally marry and was shocked to learn that not only was marriage out of the question, she was not to admit under any circumstances to being gay during immigration interviews. A co-worker recommended an immigration attorney, and Alexis sought his assistance. The attorney recommended applying for one year of practical training after graduation, and a retainer was put in place. As graduation approached, Alexis attempted to reach the attorney repeatedly with no success. She learned that no paperwork had been submitted and battled to have the retainer fee returned.

With her student visa about to expire, Alexis consulted a second attorney. He recommended “laying low” and remaining in the U.S. until amnesty was available. He also made sexual advances toward her.

In 1980, Alexis and her then partner suffered a home invasion and attempted rape. They chose to go to Canada together, where Alexis could work and save for a 4-year college education. In 1981, Alexis visited the U.S. Consulate in Vancouver, where she learned that a Bachelor’s Degree was needed for her to qualify for a work visa as a “skilled worker.” During this time, Alexis’ partner suffered tremendous depression due to prolonged separation from her family. She returned to the U.S. to be with her family. Alexis followed six months later with a second visa.

After another year of school, funds dwindled and her second visa was set to expire. In 1983, she decided to remain in the United States to stay with her partner. These are the types of decisions binational couples are forced to make. Many of these decisions remain secretive and hardships remain unknown. Binational couples face a lack of freedom that affects both partners and their families.

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Christmas 1991

Alexis and I met almost 30 years ago in Los Angeles and became fast friends. Five years later, after both our relationships ended, we began dating. Alexis was very nervous about the transition, fearing that if it didn’t work out, she would lose her best friend. Her fears were well founded as two of her previous gay relationships had folded, mostly due to the added stressors binational couples face. I, on the other hand, felt very optimistic believing we could have our friendship and a loving, romantic relationship – the best of both worlds. I knew within me that my love for her was so strong that nothing could come between us. I’m happy to say that, 25 years later, I was right.

In the mid-80s, I met Alexis and her partner at the time during various community functions. My partner at the time and I invited them over for dinner. Her partner and my partner had been in a previous relationship. Talk about a tangled web. Somehow, Alexis and I got stuck cooking the dinner while the two “exes” took a walk down memory lane. While preparing dinner, Alexis and I connected immediately and a friendship began. We lived and worked in the same vicinity and began carpooling. You get to know a person really well when you’re stuck in L.A. traffic during rush hour on a daily basis.

After Alexis’ relationship ended, she moved in with a friend. Though she no longer lived in the same vicinity, our friendship deepened. I would drive over to visit her on a daily basis and we would talk for hours. During this time both of us realized our feelings for each other were fast changing. By the end of November 1987, we were a couple. One and a half years later, we decided to make the move and live together.

We continued attending community events with friends, most of whom were unaware of the secret we held – that Alexis was a foreign national living in the shadows. It’s like living in a double closet. We joined a gay L.A. couples group and participated in many activities such as manning the booth during Christopher Street West celebrations and marching in the Pride parade. We attended many meetings and donated some of our lesbian artwork to raise funds for the organization. We served as the Hospitality Couple in the first year and the following year were nominated as Vice Chaircouple.

Alexis shared her past experience with me, she told me that being in a relationship and loving a binational spouse is extremely difficult. Every couple faces tough times, but the added fear and stress a binantional couple faces can be back breaking. I, ever the optimist, would not be deterred. I knew we were tenacious and determined, and would remain together in spite of the obstacles.

In the 1980s, an amnesty program was signed into law. We consulted with legal aides at a free clinic in Los Angeles, where we were disappointed to learned Alexis was 6 months shy of the date in order to qualify. She had not been “continuously illegal” during the law’s time frame.

In spite of not qualifying, our relationship continued to flourish and our families supported us. We always remained hopeful that one day we could legally marry and this nightmare would be over. It always seemed just around the corner.

Through the years, we repeatedly consulted legal counsel. They all told us the same thing: that there was nothing they could do unless we could legally marry or immigration reform would pass Congress.

By 1990, it had been seven years since Alexis had seen her family. We received a surprise call from her brother informing us that he was coming down and bringing Mum in tow. We had a great time showing them around Hollywood, traveling to the beach and just spending endless hours talking and reconnecting.

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Wedding Day 1995

Throughout the 1990s we continued to take every step possible to validate our relationship. In 1993, when the City of West Hollywood offered the first Certificates of Domestic Partnership, we jumped at the opportunity. In August of that year, we received our Certificate of Domestic Partnership from the first city in southern California to do so. It felt like one step closer to marriage.

On November 27, 1995 we celebrated our eighth anniversary with a commitment ceremony lead by a legal minister. Invitations were sent, vintage wedding gowns purchased, and a friend offered their home for the ceremony. While my family was able to attend, Alexis’ family was unable to due to her Mum’s health and inability to travel at the time. We had written our own vows and said our “I dos”. Unlike heterosexual couples, however, we did not receive the Marriage Certificate after the ceremony. We did, however, enjoy a wonderful 3-day honeymoon in Laguna as a wedding gift from our closest friends.

In July 1996, we flew to Seattle with two friends and drove into western Canada, so Alexis could visit her mother. Alexis’ Mum had supported her since she came out in 1980 and consoled her when she learned that DOMA had been signed into law.

In 1997, Alexis’ Mum visited us, her second trip to California. Alexis’ Mum always treated me like a second daughter and would send us greeting cards to remember our anniversary and birthdays. During that visit, Alexis’ Mum wept with joy at the sight of the wedding gowns we kept.

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Christmas 2002

In 1998, beyond our wildest dreams and imaginations, we were able to purchase a home together. This was one of the greatest joys of our relationship, the ability to nest as other couples did. We gardened, we decorated, we entertained and held family gatherings for the holidays. This was another step for us to be closer to marriage.

In 2001, I had to travel to New York for company business. It was a trip I did not want to make. It was in August, and my flight was originally scheduled to return on Tuesday, September 11th. I insisted with my employer at the time that I had to return before this date to attend classes that were starting on that same date. Prior to the trip, I directed Alexis on where the insurance policies were, I signed multiple checks in the event she needed funds, and told her that if anything happened to me she was to file a wrongful death suit. Little did I know that, because our relationship wasn’t recognized legally and DOMA prevented federal recognition, Alexis would never have been able to file a lawsuit had something happened to me. I was fortunate that I returned on Friday before the tragic event of 9/11. After that, we made an appointment with an attorney for Power of Attorney over medical decisions and finances.

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After 9/11, the world changed for everyone and we were impacted as well. We understood the need for security but began to live a more fearful life. With security tightening around the country, Alexis’ mobility was limited because, rightly or wrongly, we feared heightened scrutiny. We felt our world grow smaller and were feeling more isolated from Alexis’ family. We learned of ICE raids within our area that tore families apart, children came home from school and no one was there. Husbands and wives waited for their spouses to come home, but they did not come. I became concerned for Alexis while I was at work. My sister and brother-in-law gave us a security door for Christmas. Lack of mobility also meant that Alexis could no longer drive. She decided the risk of being pulled over was too great. Today, an appointment 15 minutes away by car takes Alexis 1 ½ hours by bus. She relies on others for rides. It’s a forced dependency she hates. We are so fortunate to have a wonderful inner circle of friends who understand our situation and offer their support in any way. One of our friends calls it “circling the wagons.”

In July of 2003, we registered as Domestic Partners in the State of California. Again, this felt like one step closer to marriage and gave us a bit of hope.

Alexis’ Mum had suffered many health problems. With travel impacted, Alexis feared her status would not be resolved before her mother died. In 2006, Alexis received the phone call every daughter dreads. Her brother, a fire fighter, had found her mother collapsed on the floor. She was rushed to ICU. Alexis consulted another immigration attorney, who told her she could visit Canada but not return to the United States. She said goodbye to her Mum via cell phone. Alexis felt like a failed daughter and fell into a depression at the loss of her mother. Not able to be at her Mum’s deathbed or in attendance at her funeral, or to help her brother in person during this time was too much for her to bear.

It was during this time that the Congress was voting on immigration reform. Again, we hoped for humane change. Every time a vote would approach, Alexis would dust off her years of documentation in preparation to file.

Alexis sent a compassionate plea via postcard to every member of the United States Senate. She wrote: “I could not hold my Mother’s hand to comfort her. I could not be at her side to say good-bye. The Senate returns on the day of my Mother’s funeral, which I cannot attend. Crossing borders could ban me from the U.S., the country I love. I work hard, pay taxes, and contribute to society. I want to come out of the shadows. For years I have hoped to see my Mother one last time. I prayed for humane immigration reform that would allow me to earn my legalization. We are one of many families separated by fear. Please remember me and honor my Mother when you vote on immigration reform.”

For so many years, we hoped that DOMA would be overturned so we could legally marry and I could sponsor my wife, as most other citizens do. We contemplated living in exile in Canada, where I as a US citizen have more rights in Canada as Alexis’ legal partner/wife than I have in my own country. Alexis insisted that we stay in California and not pull me away from my family. She knew what separation felt like.

Though we have been dealt some legal blows as a gay couple, those blows do not divide us. In spite of all of the laws that have come out to hold us back as a gay couple, it has not stopped us from loving each other, from being committed to each other. If anything, our bond and our commitment to each other grows stronger. During times when it has been difficult or when an unfavorable legal decision comes out, I confirm to Alexis that that’s OK, no matter what, we’re still here, we’re still together.

For over twenty-five years we have clung to the rocks, waiting for DOMA to be overturned or immigration reform which would include keeping gay families together. We have consulted, planned, hoped, had hopes dashed, read countless articles, met with attorneys, and done everything we could. Even though DOMA currently restricts us, we remain hopeful. Inclusion of LGBT families in comprehensive immigration reform, under debate now in Congress, is so critical. Gay families must be treated equally and not be torn apart. DOMA hurts families in far reaching ways.  Anyone who knows what we have been through for the past 25 years would know immediately that all families are the same, that all love is the same, and the our immigration laws that are meant to protect us and keep us together must work for all of us.

We are grateful for the love we share. Each workday morning when we get ready for work, we say to each other, “You’re my everything. You’re my life.”

We feel incredibly blessed to have each other. We are incredibly grateful for this gift and this opportunity to share our story alongside all the other binational couples who have joined The DOMA Project.

Mother’s Day Present for North Carolina Lesbian Couple: BIA Rejects USCIS “DOMA Denial” of Green Card Petition

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Just before Mother’s Day this North Carolina family learned that the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) rejected the denial of the marriage-based green card petition they had filed last year. The BIA sent the case back to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Field Office in Charlotte, North Carolina for further processing with orders to conduct complete fact-finding, including an interview, to determine whether they would be eligible for a green card if not for Section 3 of DOMA. This is the thirteenth time that a married same-sex binational couple, participating in The DOMA Project’s pro bono legal challenge to DOMA, has received a “remand” from the BIA after the USCIS denied their green card case because of DOMA. The DOMA Project has filed 45 appeals filed on behalf of married lesbian and gay couples never once has the BIA ever upheld the denial of a green card petition by USCIS. All the appeals that have been decided to date have ordered the USCIS to re-open the cases and fully process them to determine eligibility, clearly anticipating, it would seem, a post-DOMA future.

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Ruling by the Board of Immigration Appeals, rejecting the denial of the marriage-based green card petition filed by Becky and Sanne

Becky, Sanne and their daughter Willow live in Asheville, North Carolina. They first joined The DOMA Project in July 2011 when they shared their incredible, moving story, “Ten Trips, a Wedding and a Daughter: Exiled Binational Couple Finds a New Life in Belgium.” In 2012, Becky and Sanne settled down to a life in North Carolina. They married and filed a green card petition on the basis of their marriage. They also participated in our short film series, “Love Stories: Binational Couples on the Front Lines of DOMA,” which was produced by The DOMA Project in collaboration with Brynn Gelbard and the DeVote Campaign. (Read more about our collaboration on this series here.)

So what is next for Becky , Sanne and Willow? As the BIA has rejected the denial of their green card petition, they anxiously await news from the Charlotte, North Caroline Field Office of USCIS and hope that their long-awaited marriage-based green card interview will take place next month just in time to coincide with a ruling from the Supreme Court striking down DOMA for good.  We wish Becky and Sanne a Happy Mother’s Day!

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Missing Husband: David and Jason Spend Their Sixth Anniversary Apart, Separated by 6,000 Miles and DOMA


On May 12, 2007, I sat in a restaurant in West Hollywood swearing off men forever after a string of bad relationships. That was until my future husband walked in.

My friend James noticed my distraction, took the lonely stranger’s plate and sat him at our table, directly opposite me. For 2 hours we ate, drank and laughed. In one meal, I had gone from having lost all interest in dating to hitting it off with a guy who I may as well have designed myself.

Jason was visiting Los Angeles at the end of a 6-week trip across North America. I spent 3 days showing him the city, before he was due to flew out to New Zealand to continue his travels. Our whirlwind few days were up and it was time for our first airport goodbye. We both felt a weird difficulty that you just don’t get after hanging out with a stranger for 3 days. We knew it was something special.

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Jason and David

For the rest of Jason’s travels, for the rest of that year, and for the 6 years since, we have spoken every day. As I arrive at my office in LA Jason gets home from work in the UK. We get online and chat right through the day until he has to go to sleep. Sadly, this long distance communication is avoidable and our separation is down to the divisive and immoral Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

President Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law in September 1996. It denies millions of Americans over 1,100 rights, and has kept us and thousands of other same-sex, bi-national couples separated on birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and countless other occasions that we should be sharing together. And that’s all we’re asking for – to be together.

DOMA means that legal gay marriages are not recognized federally and are not enough to bring foreign spouses of gay Americans to the US. Jason isn’t welcome to the US as a Husband and has only ever been able to visit for a maximum 90 days as a tourist.

Jason has been warned for 2 years that he has visited the US too often using tourist visa waivers. It’s currently recommended that he wait 6 months before returning, or he may be denied entry as a visitor.

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What most people don’t realize is that when Jason has landed, whether or not he is allowed out of LAX airport is at the discretion of the Customs and Border Protection officer. The past 2 years he has been taken aside to a small interview room, interrogated and had his luggage searched by officers suspecting he is lying about his reasons for visiting. They scoff at any explanation of the years of difficulties he’s had obtaining a visa, replying “it’s not that hard”.

This is why the days leading up to his return are always filled with dread. In the run up to his visit, friends and family say, “…you must be so excited! I bet you can’t wait to see him!” which is true. But behind those conversations, all I can think about is the terrifying hour (or 2, or 3) after his plane lands and whether or not he’ll make it past customs and out of the airport.

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Thankfully, DOMA and all of this stress could be history by the end of June. The Supreme Court heard arguments against the law on March 27. Our fate is now in the hands of 9 Justices who will decide whether or not to strike down DOMA. We should know on or around June 27. If the court does not strike it down then we have little hope of being able to start a life together in the United States and may be forced to join the many Americans living in exile with their partners across the world.

In a country that has proclaimed since 1776 that ‘all men are created equal’ I feel rejected. I have been put through so much pain, for so long, and I don’t know how many more goodbyes I have in me.

Goodbyes at LAX airport are always the worst, but the silent drive home is a close second. An overwhelming, and avoidable sadness sets in, and knowing it’s not going to go away for months fills my head with bitterness and anger. Fighting these emotions is a constant battle when Jason’s not here. Imagine sharing the most incredible 3 months with your perfect companion, filling every spare hour with fun, only for that person to be ripped from your arms and flown over 5000 miles away from you for an indefinite amount of time.

It was a cruel coincidence that in March, what could be Jason’s last 90-day tourist visa waiver expired on the day the Supreme Court heard arguments against the Defense of Marriage Act. If goodbyes weren’t difficult enough, we had a constant news flow the whole day, reminding us of the pain we were about to endure. And are enduring today.

Before we were married this past September, neither Jason nor I thought we could get any closer. But as I sit here alone writing this, and as Jason sends me the latest version of our ‘goodbye’ video, I realize it put a fight in us. A fight fuelled by having a rooftop wedding in New York that did nothing to help our situation. It’s through the difficult times that we like to remind ourselves that despite it’s cruel intentions, DOMA has only made us even closer.

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In the next few days we will find out if Jason’s 3-year H-1B work visa has been approved or denied. We’ve now been separated, waiting for this outcome for over a month. Even if it were approved the visa term wouldn’t begin until October, meaning that whether as a spouse, a tourist or with a work visa, Jason is unable to enter the US for 6 months and with a full time job I can only visit him for a 2 week vacation. We were in the exact same position last year and we just can’t go through that again, and we won’t. It’s not getting easier. Only harder. But no country, no law will stop the two of us from loving each other. And that’s what carries us through.

When we met in that restaurant in 2007 we had no idea that we would spend the rest of our lives together, and apart. We had no idea that there would ever be an issue with Jason moving here and us being together. How naïve were we to believe that two people could fall in love and live their life in peace? When Jason began making plans to move here, it became clear that it was not our decision. And that simply isn’t fair.

It’s time to defeat DOMA.

UPDATE: David and Jason learned days before their 6th year anniversary that Jason’s H-1B work visa petition had been rejected. David and Jason once again spent their anniversary apart, with no way of knowing when they will see each other again.
It’s time to repeal DOMA.

Learn more about our story here.

Exiled in South Africa, Dan and Keith Meet with U.S. Consular Officials to Discuss DOMA’s Impact

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My name is Dan Brotman, and I am a 26-year-old dual American/Israeli citizen from Lexington, Massachusetts. For the past two years, I have been living in Cape Town with my South African fiancé, Keith Mienies. I arrived in Cape Town in September 2010 to write my undergraduate honors thesis, and I met Keith towards the end of my three-month stay. I was meant to leave South Africa two weeks after our first date, but wound up extending my ticket by another week so we could spend a full three weeks together. I cried when we said goodbye at the airport, as I did not know if we were ever going to see each other again.

Jerusalem, Israel

Having submitted my thesis and graduated college, I departed South Africa for Israel, where I had previously lived for three years after high school and where I still have good friends. Keith and I kept in touch over Skype, and we decided that he would come visit me in Israel for four days on his way back from a trip to the US. From the moment we saw each other again in the arrivals hall in Tel Aviv, we knew for sure that we wanted to be together. Although we had only known each other for a few months, we both felt that we had to give this relationship a chance, as it is better to try and fail than to never try at all. Keith returned to Israel for a second visit. Shortly thereafter, Keith sponsored me for a Life Partner visa, which the South African Constitutional Court made available to gay and straight unmarried bi-national couples in 1999. (South Africa eventually legalized same-sex marriage in 2006.) I arrived back in Cape Town on April 8, 2011, and have been living here ever since.

Over the past two years, Keith and I have grown a lot together. We moved from a one-bedroom apartment to a house, visited my family in the U.S., and recently adopted a miniature chocolate dachshund named Peanut. We spend time with Keith’s family on a weekly basis, and my parents and sister visited us this past December. Six months ago, I proposed to Keith on our two-year anniversary, and he said yes! We are getting married at the end of November at a wine farm in Stellenbosch, and are looking forward to celebrating our love with our family and friends from across the globe.

Together

Due to the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), couples like Keith and I are forced to live in exile. Because DOMA bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage, I cannot sponsor him for a fiancé or spousal immigrant visa. On several occasions, I have had the opportunity to move back to the US. Each time, DOMA created the painful situation of having to choose between living with my partner or living in my country. Keith and I have the option of getting married in both South Africa and in my home state of Massachusetts, but due to DOMA, neither marriage would be recognized by the federal government.

Wedding Save the Date

I have spent the past several months locating other same-sex bi-national couples living in Cape Town, and we recently held a meeting with the US Consul General and two senior diplomats to discuss our plight. This was the first time ever that a US mission in South Africa (there are three consulates and an embassy) had met with resident same-sex bi-national couples. While our local diplomats were very sympathetic to our situation, there is not much they can do until DOMA is struck down or until LGBT-inclusive immigration reform is passed by the U.S. Congress. Until then, thousands of couples like Keith and I will be stuck abroad indefinitely.

Our fight is not over yet. Keith and I join the growing crowd of binational couples calling on our elected officials, our federal courts, and the court of public opinion to do away with DOMA. We will continue organizing and continue sharing our stories until we can at last have the right to settle in the U.S.

 

Online Workshop: Fiancé(e) Visa Petitions for Gay and Lesbian Couples after DOMA

In-Depth Information on Fiancé(e) Visa Petitions

Online Workshop with Attorney Lavi Soloway

In this workshop, DOMA Project co-founder, attorney Lavi Soloway, will provide in-depth information on fiancé(e) visa petitions for gay and lesbian binational couples.  This workshop is the fourth in a series of workshops provided by the DOMA Project in conjunction with the Love Honor Cherish Foundation.

Please note: all our workshops are provided for informational purposes only.  The answers provided in this workshop do not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied upon as such.  We cannot directly address the personal circumstances of any individual case, but we encourage you to continue to submit general questions until the date of the workshop.

This workshop will be  streamed on Sunday, May 12 at 9am Pacific Time, 12pm Eastern Time. You will be able to watch the workshop on this page at the time specified.

 


Watch the recording of our previous live workshops

Rick and Gonzalo: Love Without Borders, Five Years Spent Fighting DOMA and Building a Life Together

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Rick and Gonzalo

 

Rick and Gonzalo met online in the first days of January 2008. It was cold and dark in Northern California where Rick lived, but it was the middle of a hot summer in Cordoba, Argentina, which was Gonzalo’s home. All it took was a “nice profile” instant message sent by Rick, and Gonzalo responded.

An online relationship began, including emails, chats, and skype and phone calls. The more time they both spent getting to know each other online, the greater the mutual desire to meet face-to-face. But San Francisco was over 6000 miles and 10,000 kilometers from Cordoba. Gonzalo was working long hours as the finance and administration director of a large manufacturing company, and Rick was working on his transition from a senior technology executive in Silicon Valley to a focus on philanthropy and real estate.

But with a connection that was strong and building, both Rick and Gonzalo were determined to meet. And when Gonzalo began planning a holiday in Brazil in February, Rick decided to “take the plunge” and make the long trip to see if Gonzalo was as wonderful in person as he was online. The plans were made: Rick would fly to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil while Gonzalo was there on a holiday, along with three close friends from Argentina.

As Rick was flying from the U.S. to Brazil, he thought about his life and his relationships. As the member of a prominent Mennonite farming family, he was surrounded by love and a commitment to values and to family. However, homosexuality was high on the list of things that were “verboten,”  the German word for forbidden. He had left the community in Pennsylvania and felt more acceptance as a gay man in California. However, his career and his family forced him to stay “closeted.” A relationship with a European man had lasted 11 years, but his partner had never been successful at obtaining a “green card” to live and work in the U.S.

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Rick began to imagine what would happen if he and Gonzalo really liked each other upon meeting. How would they build a life together? Where would they live? Was this a case of deja vu all over again?

Of course, the rest of the story is a now-familiar one, and similar to others on this site. Rick and Gonzalo met on February 16, 2008, and sparks flew. What was going to be a dinner together turned in to a week together. Rick met Gonzalo’s friends, and they all hit it off. Rick and Gonzalo were falling in love, hard.

A few weeks later, Gonzalo visited Rick at his California home. After another few weeks, Rick visited Gonzalo in Argentina. By June, Rick and Gonzalo realized they had a very strong connection, and they decided they wanted to be together as a loving, committed couple. But how? Where? What would they do professionally? There were many questions.

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California Dreaming

In June 2008, Gonzalo told his family and friends that he was going to the United States for an extended period of time. There were many questions, and Gonzalo was not really sure how to answer some of them. But in a huge leap of faith, Gonzalo arrived in California, and Rick and Gonzalo began a life together.

They had a wonderful time, sharing all the components of living together: meeting friends, caring for their dog, working on the house, going on long weekend trips, working on Gonzalo’s English skills, planning a future. Gonzalo began to make Rick’s house feel like a home for all of them. Laughter, music, and love filled the house.

But as time went on, reality began to set in. How would Gonzalo continue his career in the United States? How long would he be able to stay on a tourist visa? With previous experience with a man from another country, Rick began to become angry with American society and government. Why was he, a successful American paying the same taxes as everyone else, being denied the most basic right of all–the right to be with the person that he loved?

Rick had become active in politics, and he told his story to many people in the Democratic party, including then presidential candidate Barack Obama. And Mr. Obama told Rick, “I will fully support equal rights for all Americans, including gays and lesbians.” Rick actively campaigned for Obama and he returned to his home state of Pennsylvania to help get out the vote. For a period of 10 days in late October 2008, he knocked on doors, he made phone calls, and he told people that he believed that the country needed a President Obama. Rick and Gonzalo celebrated Obama’s victory in November 2008, but then as Proposition 8 won in California, the reality of the long fight ahead to stay together began to set in.

Uncertainty

Gonzalo and Rick continued to share a life together in California when they could; Gonzalo would travel back and forth between California and Argentina several times a year to be home with his family and friends, and to obtain a new visitor’s visa. Finally that day came that all binational couples learn to dread. In December 2009, an immigration officer at the Miami International Airport began to question Gonzalo. Why was he coming and staying so often? Who was his American contact, Richard? After lots of questions, Gonzalo was admitted, but only for a few months. When he arrived in San Francisco, he said to Rick, “Honey, we are going to have problems staying together here in the U.S.” And Rick knew Gonzalo was right.

They began to interview immigration lawyers, and they learned that legal immigration was incredibly difficult. They explored investment visas and employment visas. All were difficult, expensive, time-consuming, and risky. They concluded that because the U.S. seems unable to control illegal immigration, legal immigration had become very difficult. Even as a young and highly-educated potential immigrant, Gonzalo’s choices were limited. And Rick began to remember all the different visas he and his former partner had tried. They had applied for an EB-5 investment visa, and after spending tens of thousands with immigration lawyers, accountants, and business lawyers, their application had been denied.

The more they deliberated, the more they began to weigh options involving other countries. Should they both move to Argentina? What about a new life together in New Zealand or Australia, or in the United Kingdom? (These were countries where Rick had once lived as a technology executive).

Argentina, here we come!

After much discussion, Gonzalo and Rick decided to move to Argentina. Rick concluded that his country, the United States where his family had lived since 1717 after leaving Switzerland and Germany for religious freedom, no longer wanted him and the man that he loved. They began the process of figuring out how to rent their home, get their dogs Maggie and Emma to Argentina, and where they would live. Would they rent or purchase a home? Would they live in Buenos Aires or in Cordoba? What would Rick do professionally? And how would Gonzalo re-enter the workplace, after having spent the past 18 months traveling back and forth between his home in Argentina and the U.S.?  All that disruption to their lives, could they just pick up the pieces and put it all back together in Argentina?

Since Gonzalo was only granted a few months stay on his last visitor’s visa, there was not much time to decide. On February 23, 2010, Rick took Gonzalo to the San Francisco International Airport for his trip back to Argentina. They held each other for a long time, knowing that their relationship was entering a new and rocky stage.

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Many trips to Argentina

After Gonzalo arrived back in Argentina, the relationship went back to lots of phone calls, skype calls, text messages, and emails. Rick was left alone in California, trying to get the house ready to rent. Gonzalo was back in Argentina, without his apartment and a job. He was living with his parents, and he began to question what he would do. Would he wait until Rick arrived in Argentina?

Rick began to make as many trips as he could to Argentina, so they could keep their relationship on track, and so that they could decide together and support each other. But it was difficult to find people to take their young dogs, and to take care of their home. And the U.S. real estate market in 2010 was still very depressed. The rental market for large suburban homes was very soft. Many prospective tenants came and went, and nothing came together.

All the uncertainty put a big strain on their relationship. Depression and loneliness set in for both Rick and Gonzalo. They both knew they loved and missed each other, but what was the future for them?

Finally they decided that Buenos Aires was the best place for them to live, and Gonzalo moved there. He found a job, and a close friend rented him an apartment in Recoleta, a lovely neighborhood of the city. Rick would travel to Argentina every few months. But they missed living together. They missed sleeping in the same bed every night. They needed and wanted to live together immediately, but months turned into a year, and they were still living apart.

A New Chapter: Hope for a Future in the U.S.

In 2012, Rick learned about the work that Lavi Soloway and his team at Masliah & Soloway were doing. They were submitting marriage-based green card petitions to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for certain carefully selected married same-sex couples in a carefully designed campaign to challenge DOMA. For twenty years, they were leaders in the field of immigration law, LGBT rights and marriage equality.  And they were successful in providing temporary immigration rights to foreign-born spouses of lesbian and gay U.S. citizens. When Rick and Gonzalo began to think about the possibilities, and the risks, they decided it was the right thing to do. Gonzalo sent Rick two dozen beautiful red roses, along with chocolate, a large red heart, and a card that said, “You are the man I want to spend the rest of my life with. Will you marry me?!” Rick cried tears of joy, and called Gonzalo in Buenos Aires. Yes, he said. Si! I want to marry you more than anything in the world!

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Wedding bells

In early October 2012, Gonzalo arrived in San Francisco. Rick and their “girls,” Maggie and Emma, went to the airport, along with flowers. When Rick and the dogs saw Gonzalo, they went running to greet Gonzalo. Their family was back together.  For months, Rick and Gonzalo thought about their future. They knew that they wanted to marry in the United States, but they still had no plan for a legal avenue that would give Gonzalo the right to stay in the United States.

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On February 7, 2013, Gonzalo and Rick were married at City Hall in New York City. Rick’s oldest brother, Ken, was their witness. The city opened its arms for Rick and Gonzalo. The hotel put them in the wedding suite at no extra charge. Waiters were bringing champagne to celebrate. The broadway show they attended, Jersey Boys, had their song (You’re Just Too Good To Be True). And on the day before they returned to California, the skies opened up and snow began to fall. The Blizzard of 2013 was like the icing on their wedding cake.

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The Green Card Case

In March 2013, Rick filed a green card petition for Gonzalo, just like any other American citizen would do for his foreign-born spouse. Under the careful supervision and legal counsel of their lawyer, Lavi Soloway, the couple applied for a marriage-based green card. As of this writing, Rick and Gonzalo still do not know what the outcome will be. Will their application be denied, which current U.S. law (DOMA) would dictate? Will Gonzalo be forced to leave the country?   This is the worst case scenario, but there are also some very positive and hopeful possibilities.  They decided to share their story with The DOMA Project, as well, to advance the incredible progress of this movement of binational couples.

Rick and Gonzalo have peace of mind, knowing that what they have done is blazing new trails to equality for all lesbian and gay Americans. And if their love-based application is denied, they will together leave the United States for one of the many countries that will recognize their relationship. They will not be denied the most basic right of all–the right to be together in a loving, committed, mutually supportive relationship.  Love will prevail.

Senator Leahy Introduces Amendment to Immigration Bill to Recognize Same-Sex Marriages

Leahy Proposes Two Amendments to Give Green Cards to Gay and Lesbian Couples

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For Immediate Release
Phone: 323-599-6915
[email protected]
[email protected]

On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced an amendment to the pending Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) Bill that recognizes marriages of lesbian and gay couples for immigration purposes. The amendment carves out the first-ever exception from the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which currently denies recognition of same-sex marriages under all federal laws.

DOMA Project co-founder, immigration and LGBT rights attorney Lavi Soloway reacted to the announcement of the marriage recognition amendment, calling it a “strategic masterstroke”:

“With Senator Leahy’s ingenious move, DOMA is once again front and center as the villain that has prevented gay Americans from sponsoring their foreign-born partners and spouses for green cards, and has torn apart so many LGBT families. Comprehensive immigration reform must include resolution of the catastrophic and, in many cases, irreparable harm caused to lesbian and gay binational couples, their children, and their extended families because of DOMA. Senator Leahy has deftly forced that issue to the surface, and in the process he has reminded all advocates that this legislative effort cannot be comprehensive as long as one group of American citizens are denied equal protection under the laws.

“Senator Leahy’s marriage amendment to the pending Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill is nothing short of a strategic master stroke. With this amendment, lesbian and gay binational couples would have immediate access to green cards and fiancé(e) visas even if DOMA remains the law of the land. Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), the other amendment introduced today to recognize same-sex partners of American citizens for immigration purposes, would be immediately inoperative if the marriage amendment were passed into law, because the key component of UAFA is the creation of the ‘permanent partner’ category, which only exists as long as same-sex marriages are not recognized under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Senator Leahy has demonstrated today that he is a fierce advocate for LGBT equality.”

If passed, the amendment would provide gay and lesbian Americans with foreign born partners access to all marriage-related provisions of our immigration law including green cards for their spouses and fiancé(e) visas. Leahy’s amendment would ensure that the marriages of same-sex binational couples would be recognized for every aspect of U.S. immigration law exactly as the marriages of opposite-sex couples are recognized today.

Over the past three years The DOMA Project has filed over 70 green card petitions on behalf of gay and lesbian couples, and appealed 45 of those cases to the Board of Immigration Appeals. The petitions that were denied by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services all contained the following dispassionate and offensive language: “Your spouse is not a person of the opposite sex. Therefore, under the DOMA, your petition must be denied.” Leahy’s amendment would relegate these denials to history.

The amendment offered by Leahy would correct this injustice by amending the Immigration and Naturalization Act with the following language:

“Notwithstanding [DOMA], an individual shall be considered a ‘spouse’ and a marriage shall be considered a ‘marriage’ for the purposes of this Act if the marriage of the individual is valid in the State in which the marriage was entered into, etc.”

Immediately upon enactment, married gay and lesbian couples would be able to petition for family based green cards for their spouses. Unmarried gay and lesbian couples would have access to fiancé(e) visas just as opposite sex couples do today.

In March, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Windsor vs. United States, a case challenging DOMA Section 3, in March. The Court’s ruling is expected in June.

The Leahy amendment is a critically important measure that give lesbian and gay binational couples equal access to family based immigration provisions in the event that the Supreme Court does not strike down DOMA Section 3 next month.

For more information about today’s announcement, or to schedule an interview, please contact Project Associate Derek Tripp or Lavi Soloway, attorney and co-founder of The DOMA Project.


Lavi Soloway, Attorney and Co-Founder
Phone: 323-599-6915
[email protected]

Derek Tripp, Project Associate
Phone: 646-535-3788
[email protected]

VIDEO: 17 Years After DOMA’s Introduction, Binational Couples Continue the Fight to Save their Families

BrianGavernSeventeen years ago, on May 7, 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. At the time, legislators’ primary objective was to express moral disapproval of gays and lesbians. DOMA Section 3, which defines marriage for all federal purposes as between one man and one woman, has caused catastrophic and irreparable harm to American families. Same-sex married couples are barred from 1,138 provisions of federal law that are designed to strengthen families. By contrast, no marriages were actually defended.


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17 years ago, on May 7, 1996, DOMA was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate

17 YEARS AFTER THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT WAS INTRODUCED, GAY AND LESBIAN BINATIONAL COUPLES ENGAGE PUBLIC IN THE FIGHT TO KEEP THEIR FAMILIES TOGETHER

MARRIED GAY AND LESBIAN COUPLES CONTINUE TO BE DENIED ACCESS TO GREEN CARDS AND FIANCÉ(E) VISAS BECAUSE OF FEDERAL LAW

Seventeen years ago, on May 7, 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. At the time, legislators’ primary objective was to express moral disapproval of gays and lesbians. DOMA Section 3, which defines marriage for all federal purposes as between one man and one woman, has caused catastrophic and irreparable harm to American families. Same-sex married couples are barred from 1,138 provisions of federal law that are designed to strengthen families. By contrast, no marriages were actually defended.

For 17 years, DOMA has caused immeasurable financial and emotional hardship for gay and lesbian Americans, particularly those in long-term committed relationships with a foreign national. In Boulder, Colorado, Catriona lives with her spouse, Cathy, a citizen of Ireland. Together they are raising three children. This family lives under constant threat of separation ever since Cathy’s work visa ran out last year.

Other couples, like American, Jesse Goodman and Argentinean, Max Oliva, have been forced to live in exile in London, unable to return home. Others have no alternative but to struggle in long distance relationships indefinitely, traveling across the globe for short visits, sustaining their commitment to one another by Skype and telephone.

The years lost to DOMA will never be regained for these families. Even DOMA’s original sponsor, former Republican Congressman Bob Barr repudiated the discriminatory law in 2009 as an unacceptable infringement on individual liberty. President Clinton, who signed DOMA into law, finally denounced it this past March. With 12 federal court rulings against DOMA in less than three years, and the Obama Administration’s unprecedented commitment to fight DOMA alongside lesbian and gay plaintiffs, many commentators see a Supreme Court ruling striking down DOMA as imminent.

This week the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin work on the markup of a comprehensive immigration reform bill that excludes gay and lesbian couples. Senate Republicans have threatened that inclusion of an amendment to add gay families to the bill will ensure that comprehensive immigration reform goes down to defeat. Republicans are once again scapegoating gay Americans, rather than fixing a broken immigration system so that it protects all our families. Because gay and lesbian couples have been left out of immigration reform, everything now rides on a Supreme Court decision on DOMA due in a few weeks.

Despite some optimism, the Court’s final ruling on DOMA won’t be known until the day of the ruling. If the Court upholds DOMA, gay and lesbian Americans with foreign-born partners would have no recourse; couples and families would continue to be torn apart, parents separated from children, and American citizens driven into exile.

During this crucial time, DOMA Project participants are actively engaging with media, elected officials, and their broader communities with the message that their families’ futures hang in the balance. The DOMA Project has arranged for numerous gay and lesbian binational couples across the country to be available for interviews and for telephone and video conference interviews. facebook-may7b630

For more information about today’s announcement, or to schedule an interview, please contact Project Associate Derek Tripp or Lavi Soloway, attorney and co-founder of The DOMA Project

 

Lavi Soloway, Attorney and Co-Founder

Phone: 323-599-6915

[email protected]

 

Derek Tripp, Project Associate

Phone: 646-535-3788

[email protected]

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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.