Happy Pride to All, from The DOMA Project!

Happy Pride to all from the DOMA Project!

“We have love, joy and happiness in our lives. Thanks to the Supreme Court and President Obama we have an approved green card petition and we get to stay in our home and our country. If DOMA had not been struck down we were faced with no alternative but to leave our home and the country that we love so much. We feel extremely grateful and fortunate to have been given the greatest gift possible as we celebrate gay pride around the country. Today we rejoice. Next week we get back to work to defeat all the barriers to full equality.”

Julian & Traian

READ FULL PRESS RELEASE

Gay Couple in Florida Receives Approval of Marriage-Based Green Card Petition Just Two Days After Historic Supreme Court Ruling Striking Down DOMA

The DOMA Project Couple Receives First-Ever Approval of Green Card Petition, Recognizing their Marriage

juliantraian

Just two days after the historic Supreme Court ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act Section 3, The DOMA Project participants, Julian Marsh and Traian Popov of Fort Lauderdale, Florida received good news. Julian’s green card petition for his Bulgarian husband was approved by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at 3:45 p.m. EDT Friday afternoon June 28th. On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, a law that prohibited the federal government from recognizing marriages of same-sex couples for all purposes including immigration benefits, as a violation of the equal protection guarantee of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Julian and Traian met in March 5, 2011 at a friend’s home in Florida. Within a week, they had a second run-in at another friend’s house and began dating shortly thereafter. “I met him, I fell in love, and that was it,” says Julian. They married in Brooklyn, New York in October 2012, because of the connections both have had to New York City and because their home state of Florida does not permit same-sex couples to marry. Traian (“Tray”) Popov has been a student in the United States since 1998 and is currently pursuing a PhD in Conflicts Analysis and Resolution. Julian Marsh is an internationally acclaimed DJ and music producer.

As one of the binational couples participating in The DOMA Project, Julian, a U.S. citizen, filed an I-130 Petition for his husband Traian on February 13th, 2013. Notification of the approval of his petition arrived by e-mail on Friday from USCIS within just two days of the Supreme Court ruling. June 28th was also, coincidentally, Julian’s birthday.

Since it was founded in 2010 by attorneys Lavi Soloway and Noemi Masliah, The DOMA Project has filed almost 100 green card petitions for same-sex couples affected by DOMA. USCIS has announced that will soon issue guidance for all DOMA-impacted immigration cases. The DOMA Project is working closely with members of Congress and with the Obama administration to ensure that all petitions and applications filed by lesbian and gay couples be handled and processed as expeditiously as possible.

Florida’s Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio stated on June 13th that he would walk away from any Senate bill to address the needs of same-sex couples and their families.

“We have love, joy and happiness in our lives. Thanks to the Supreme Court and President Obama we have an approved green card petition and we get to stay in our home and our country. If DOMA had not been struck down we were faced with no alternative but to leave our home and the country that we love so much.  We feel extremely grateful and fortunate to have been given the greatest gift possible as we celebrate gay pride around the country. Today we rejoice. Next week we get back to work to defeat all the barriers to full equality,” said Julian from his home in Florida.

From Lavi Soloway, Attorney and Co-Founder of the DOMA Project:

“The approval of this petition demonstrates that the Obama administration’s commitment to recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples nationwide is now a reality on the ground, just two days after the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down DOMA. We expect additional approvals of green card petitions in the coming days.

“It is symbolically important that the first gay couple to receive approval of their green card petition live in Florida, a state that has a constitutional ban preventing same-sex couples from marrying. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) has repeatedly and shamefully scapegoated gay Americans and their families, threatening to kill comprehensive immigration reform if it included a provision for LGBT families. Today, the Supreme Court ruling affirmed that committed and loving binational lesbian and gay couples in Florida and across the country deserve to be treated with respect and equal recognition under the law by the federal government. In stark contrast to Senator Rubio’s disparaging tone rejecting the dignity of lesbian and gay Americans, the Supreme Court ruling and the green card approval have brought justice to Julian and Traian.”

“This historic first green card approval confirms that for immigration purposes the Supreme Court ruling striking down DOMA will extend equal recognition to same-sex couples in all 50 states, as long as they have a valid marriage.”

The DOMA Project is a campaign to stop the deportations, separations, and exile of gay and lesbian binational couples caused by the Defense of Marriage Act.

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


VICTORY! Gay Couple in Florida Received Approval of their Marriage-Based Green Card Petition

facebook-firstgreencardapproved

First Time in U.S. History: Approval of a Green Card Petition For a Married Same-Sex Couple

For the first time in the U.S. history, a marriage-based green card petition filed by a same-sex couple has been approved. Florida couple received notice just two days after the Supreme Court ruling striking down DOMA.


READ PRESS RELEASE


Masliah & Soloway, Immigration Attorneys Who Founded Immigration Equality & The DOMA Project, Offer Free Consultations to Binational Couples Impacted By DOMA

freeconsultations5757wilshire

Following the Supreme Court ruling striking down DOMA, the founders of The DOMA Project, the law firm of Masliah & Soloway, will be offering free consultations to all binational couples impacted by DOMA who seek counsel or representation.

We ask every couple contacting us in connection with this offer to use the following dedicated e-mail address [email protected] to schedule an initial legal consultation. (We will respond to all requests by email within 48 hours, so please do not email us more than once unless you have not heard back from us by the third business day after you sent your request.) We will offer consultations 7 days a week, by phone, Skype and in person.

This offer is extended to all binational couples regardless of your location. All consultations are confidential, protected by attorney-client privilege. This offer is not part of The DOMA Project, which is our pro bono advocacy and public education campaign, but rather it is an extension of our law firm’s commitment to providing assistance to the LGBT families addressing immigration issues post-DOMA.

Consultations will be available to couples worldwide: we will offer flexible hours so that we can meet the needs of those in all time zones. We will ask everyone who contacts us for a consultation to please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support the work of The DOMA Project.

We will do our best to accommodate every couple needing assistance as quickly as possible. All emails will receive a response within 24 hours. (Please note that our law firm offers sliding scale, low cost legal services for individuals experiencing financial hardship, and extended payment plans for individuals with limited income.) We look forward to speaking with you in the coming days and weeks.

- Lavi Soloway, Masliah & Soloway

NYC Immigration Judge Stops Deportation Proceedings Within Minutes of Supreme Court Ruling on DOMA

Post-DOMA universe had its first impact on a binational couple within minutes of DOMA being struck down by the Supreme Court. Within thirty minutes of the Supreme Court ruling, New York City Immigration Judge stopped deportation proceedings for Colombian man married to gay American citizen.

Steven and Sean, The DOMA Project participants, filed for a green card on the basis of their marriage last year.

SeanWeddingPicOne600

At 10:30 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, June 26th, in a New York Immigration Court, attorneys from the law firm Masliah & Soloway requested and were granted a continuance in removal (deportation) proceedings for a Colombian gay man married to an American citizen for whom they had filed a marriage-based green card petition last year.

From Lavi Soloway:

A copy of the 77-page Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor was delivered to the court by our summer intern, Gabe, who ran five blocks and made it in time for the decision to be submitted to the Immigration Judge and to serve a copy on the Immigration & Customs Enforcement Assistant Chief Counsel.

Rachel Maddow featured The DOMA Project’s historic victory for Sean & Steven in Immigration Court on tonight’s show:

Sean and Steven’s story has also been reported by ThinkProgress, MSNBC, Politico, Huffington Post, Raw Story, Gay Star News, New York Observer, Americablog, The Wall Street Journal, among others.

SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN ANTI-GAY “DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT” IN HISTORIC RULING

MARRIAGES OF SAME-SEX COUPLES NOW RECOGNIZED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY


Gay American Citizens Can Now Sponsor Foreign-Born Spouses for Green Cards, Ending Immigration Nightmare

In a groundbreaking and historic ruling, the Supreme Court of the United States has placed itself on the right side of history and found Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be an unconstitutional exercise of federal authority and a violation of the equal protection guarantee of the U.S. Constitution in a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Kennedy.  Originally signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, DOMA has denied lawfully married gay and lesbian couples from the benefits and protections of more than 1,100 federal provisions.  These wide-ranging benefits include all of immigration law and the right of an American citizen to sponsor his or her spouse for a green card and to file a fiancé(e) visa petition to bring his or her partner to the United States.

74-twitterheader

Writing for the Court, Justice Kennedy stated unequivocally that,

“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.  By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”

The DOMA Project has filed over 70 green card and fiancé(e) visa petitions for same-sex couples since its inception in 2010.  The sole basis for denial by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was Section 3 of DOMA.  After today’s ruling, that obstacle has, at long last, been removed.

Lavi Soloway, gay rights attorney and co-founder of the DOMA Project, offers his view on the ruling:

“Today’s historic ruling puts millions of lesbian and gay Americans and their families on equal footing under federal law.  By ending the discrimination against married same-sex couples, the Supreme Court has extended the promise of equality granted by the U.S. Constitution to all Americans regardless of sexual orientation.  Beginning today, lesbian and gay Americans will be able to file green card petitions for their foreign-born spouses and fiancé(e) visa petitions to bring their partners to the United States. The federal government will no longer stand in the way of lesbian and gay binational couples who seek nothing more than to build a life together in the United States.  The Supreme Court’s ruling is the culmination of years of the tireless efforts of courageous and determined couples who stood up for the right to be together, and fought back against a government that sought to tear apart their families.  We expect the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to begin approving green card petitions for married lesbian and gay couples immediately.”

The defeat of DOMA effectively means the end to deportation of spouses of gay and lesbian Americans who will now be eligible for green cards. It will reunite same-sex couples who have been torn apart and forced to live in separate countries, including many cases in which parents have been separated from their minor children, and it will end the exile of gay and lesbian Americans who have been forced to live abroad in order to be with the person they love.  With Section 3 of DOMA gone, our family-based immigration laws will now treat all families equally, regardless of sexual orientation.

The following couples are available for interviews and press:

Brian & Alfonso

San Francisco / Bay Area, CA

Donna & Dana

Los Angeles, CA

Shaun & John

Los Angeles, CA

Judy & Karin

San Jose, CA

Catriona & Cathy and their 3 children

Boulder, CO

Paul & Michael

Snowmass Village, CO

Daniel & Yohandel

Miami, FL

Andi & Sveta

Macomb, IL

Lujza & Joy

Lexington, KY

Caroline & Laurie

Somerset, MA

Anton & Marco

Separated:

Anton: Madison Heights, MI

Marco: Italy

Brad & Christian

Separated:

Brad:  Kalamazoo, MI

Christian:  Uruguay

Becky & Sanne and their daughter

Asheville, NC

Ed & Tim

Separated:

Ed: Durham, NC

Tim: Cairo, Egypt

Margie & Janice

Waxhaw, NC

Ben & Dario

Elizabeth, NJ

Jennifer & Rachel

Secaucus, NJ

Enzo & Juan

New York City, NY

Luke & Brandon

New York City, NY

Glen & Tom

New York City, NY

James & Daniel

New York City, NY

Eric & Reinaldo

New York City, NY

Jesse & Maximiliano

Exiled to London, England

From: New York City, NY

Tom & Emilio

Exiled to Ontario, Canada

From: New York City, NY

Frédéric & Mark and their 4 children

Harrisburg, PA

Brian & Anton

Philadelphia, PA

Jon & Sergio

Providence, RI

Sarah & Emma and their baby son

Exiled to the Chapel-en-le-Frith, UK

From: Tiverton, RI

Andy & Achim

Exiled to Germany

From: Nashville, TN

Jennifer & Elizabeth

Houston, TX

Steven & Ricardo and their baby son

Tukwila, WA

For more information about any couple listed above or our campaign, and 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  

Derek Tripp, Project Associate - Phone: 646-535-3788

 

Lavi Soloway Responds to the SCOTUS Ruling on DOMA


facebookheadervictory-originalfile

Live Streamed Response to the Supreme Court Decision

Defense of Marriage Act Found Unconstitutional

DOMA Project co-founder, attorney Lavi Soloway, answers questions as they come in.  The information provided is not intended to be legal advice.  All answers are of a general nature, so specific legal questions or questions specific to one person’s situation can only be answered in general terms.

 

(VIDEO) Married Gay Couple Scheduled For Green Card Interview in New York, One Day Before Supreme Court Rules on DOMA

In 1996, Andres received the highest rank that a Mormon missionary could achieve because he was an expert on promoting the Proclamation of the Family, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Now, he is on another mission — to educate people on the different types of families, rooted in love and all deserving of equality, including the right for his husband, Enzo, to sponsor him for a green card, like any other binational couple in the United States.

(Enzo/U.S./Argentina — Andres/Uruguay) — Brooklyn, NY.

On Tuesday June 25, Enzo and Andres were scheduled to attend their green card interview in New York, one day before the Supreme Court will rule on DOMA. The USCIS decided to postpone the interview until after the Court rules.

andresenzo

The video is part of the collaborative series, ‘Love Stories: Binational Couples on the Front Lines Against DOMA,’ produced by Lavi Soloway and Brynn Gelbard for The DOMA Project and the DeVote Campaign.

Christina & Eve: U.S. Navy Veteran Defies DOMA, Petitions for Green Card to Keep her Family Together

on a way to get a marriage licence

My name is Christina. I’m a veteran, a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a wife. My wife’s name is Eve and I worry about our future every day. This is our story.

During the summer of 2006, I was a newly out of the U.S. Navy after nearly 12 years of service. I was also happily single. I was just taking off my sea legs and finding my way in the civilian world when I met Eve on my birthday at a neighborhood bar called The Cubbyhole in New York City. Our first conversation was intriguing and I was immediately drawn to her. I tried my best pickup lines, but they didn’t work. So, I followed her on the subway heading uptown at the end of the night. After asking her to dinner what seemed like a hundred times, she repeated “no” but she suggested we exchange phone numbers. She blew me a kiss and got off the train, disappearing into the night. When I got home that night, I thought, “well that’s that.”

But it wasn’t.  Turns out I met my future wife that night.

Eve sent me a random text message a few weeks after we first met and we started seeing each other shortly thereafter. Old-fashioned dates turned into sleepovers and soon I found myself spending every free moment I had with her. We fell in love. It was a love I had never experienced with anyone else.

eve & cristina, coney island, magic hour-cropped

Together at Coney Island

We moved in together about a year into our relationship and made our house a home. My family warmed up to her quickly and I warmed up to her friends in the U.K. on one of our visits. We integrated our lives together into one big family.

Eve, who came here from the U.K. was busy getting into different projects and building a name for herself in the film industry. She’s a really excellent sound designer by specialty, but also an amazing photographer and cinematographer. She can shoot, edit, and compose beautiful music – basically she can do everything associated with making a film. Eve’s ambition to become an acclaimed filmmaker.

As for me, I went back to college full time in order to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life. I ended up returning to my biggest passion – journalism. After my graduation, I went to work as a field producer for the 24-hour news station NY1. I’ve worked in the field ever since.

Now, we also work together on documentaries, combining Eve’s artistry and my skills at storytelling.

When New York state signed same-sex marriage into  law in 2011, it was very joyous news for us, but we didn’t get married right away. Eve was concerned that marriage would possibly compromise her immigration status non-immigrant visa holder. I wanted to marry her ever since our first anniversary of being together. I knew she was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, but I also didn’t want to make things difficult for her.

Just married-cropped

Just married!

However, this year, after seeking legal guidance, we decided that our love could not wait any longer. On January 10th, 2013 we decided to say I do. That day at the City Clerk’s office in lower Manhattan was one of the happiest days of my life. Just looking into Eve’s beautiful eyes as we exchanged vows was so amazing. This woman that I’ve loved all these years is now my wife.

But the honeymoon was over quickly as we realized that there were more hurdles ahead. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a bill signed into law in the wee hours of the morning on September 21, 1996, prevents the U.S. federal government from granting gay and lesbian married couples over 1,000 federal marriage-based benefits. One of those benefits is the ability to sponsor a foreign spouse for permanent residency.

Now, seven years since we first met, we Eve and I continue to grow as a couple. We both have jobs here in New York City. Like most families, our biggest concern should be raising our X-year-old son, Alexander. We want to provide a stable and happy future for Alexander. However, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) makes that difficult as our continued presence in New York depends on Eve’s ability to maintain her current non-immigrant visa – something that is never certain. This is hardly an adequate solution for a family like ours. That is why we have chosen to fight for a marriage-based green card that offers us a permanent means of living together as a family in the U.S.

mother and son-cropped

Christina and her son, Alexander

DOMA is the only thing standing in the way for lesbian and gay binational couples like Eve and me. Yes, we had a marriage certificate, but basically that’s all we have. Unlike heterosexual binational couples, I cannot successfully sponsor Eve for permanent residency on the basis of our marriage. We will not give up easily. We are prepared to fight DOMA every step of the way.

Earlier last month, Senate Democrats abandoned two amendments that would have included lesbian and gay families in U.S. immigration law. Advocates of the two LGBT provisions acquiesced in order not to risk losing the bigger battle of passing overall immigration reform. They say they are taking historic steps to finally give people a practical legal pathway to citizenship.

That brings little comfort to my wife and me. Eve came here legally in 2005 and has struggled to find a permanent solution ever since. We want to be free to live together as a married couple and build our lives together in America. This seems like a win-win situation and we refuse to believe that anyone would truly wish exile or separation for our family – though this is the message our elected officials sent us when they failed to include us in comprehensive immigration reform. This is why we are sharing our story today. We want everyone to know that if DOMA is not eliminated, tens of thousands of lesbian and gay binational families like ours will be forced to consider long-distance separation or exile as our only remaining options.

I know that our country is moving in the direction of fairness and equality. As a veteran, I celebrated the day that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was finally repealed. Eve and I now look forward to the day in which DOMA will be history too. Until that day comes, we will continue sharing our story and the stories of other couples who have contributed to The DOMA Project. Please join us in the fight for our future by sharing our story today.

There’s No Place Like Home: An Ocean Apart and Married, Lindsey and Katie Fight DOMA to Live Together in Kansas

Aug 15 2011

My name is Lindsey, and for the past four years, my partner and I have maintained a relationship and a marriage across an ocean. Despite being legally married, we are unable to share a home in the United States. The Defense of Marriage Act, also known as DOMA, makes our marriage invisible in the eyes of the U.S. government.

549037_10152741381760302_832148217_n

Katie and I met in the summer of 2008. We worked together at a summer camp in my home state of Kansas. The camp is just 30 minutes from my hometown, but for Katie the job took her 4,000 miles from home. An British citizen, Katie was planning to spend four months in Kansas on a summer work visa. Neither of us expected our summer relationship to last past August. On November 4th, 2008, the same day that President Obama was elected into office, we stood in front of an airport departure gate and agreed to see what our future had in store.

The next couple of years were full of the most extreme highs and lows that a couple can imagine. While most new couples might worry about going on double dates and learning how to share the covers, we were waking up early for Skype dates and saving for flights. There were days when it seemed like it was just too much, but by 2010 we had our first big shot at hope. In March 2010 Katie began an 18-month internship with the very same camp at which we met. In August of 2011, near the end of her internship, Katie and I were married in a private commitment ceremony on a beach in Texas. Our officiate told us if same-sex marriage were ever to became legal in Texas, she would marry us again for free! Staff at a nearby hotel saw us out the window and cheered after it was over. Just two months later, Katie’s internship ended and without a job to sponsor her again she was forced to return to England. Because of this situation, we have spent just 4 months of our first year and only half of our marriage together in the same country.

MLG

It’s not for lack of effort that we are apart. Katie has sought work in the United States and Canada throughout our time apart. She was even offered a job in the U.S., but after a drawn-out application process the visa was denied. Katie has also sought full-time work in the U.K., but has yet to meet the requirements to sponsor my immigration to England (we face legal barriers there due to our temporarily low income). During our separation, Katie has returned to Kansas as a visitor several times, and just one day after our first year anniversary we legally married in Iowa. Our lawful marriage in Iowa still did not afford us federal recognition, but it felt right to us. Since our commitment ceremony in Texas, we have always considered ourselves a married couple.

Holidays are especially hard. They serve as a reminder of how long we have been apart. In spite of having known one another for 5 years, we have spent only one Thanksgiving together. In that same time, we have spent two Christmas mornings as a couple, and two more apart. This year we will spend our third Christmas together in England. We’ve also had a New Years Eve kiss two years in a row, one in each country. I can count every Halloween, every birthday, and every Valentine’s we have spent together, and how many more of each we have spent apart.

541157_10152683712355302_1104179575_n

We never have and never will separate by choice. Our relationship has been ruled by the departure stamps in our passports. Despite the times we are apart – months at a time – I would not give up my Katie or our marriage for anything. The times we are together are the happiest moments of my life. I feel like the rest of my life is simply on hold while we are apart. When she is gone, every day is about waiting for her to come home. I would take a day every year with her over a “normal” life without her in it. Regardless of our future, we are committed to each other. That’s what marriage means to us – a commitment to remain by each other’s side, even if there are six time zones and an ocean between us.

For our lives to change, federal law needs to change. DOMA denies couples like us the federal marriage-based benefits that we need to be together. Because of DOMA, I cannot sponsor my legal wife for her immigration to the United States. We are just one of thousands of couples with similar stories. And while we have obeyed the law for five long years, it has continued to keep us apart day after day. As our stories increasingly gain media coverage, we are certain that the world will wake up to what DOMA really is – legislated bigotry. We know that eventually DOMA will fall and justice will prevail. By sharing our story, we’re doing our part to build public sentiment against DOMA and hold the U.S. government accountable to gay and lesbian binational couples once DOMA is gone for good. We have waited far too long for DOMA’s end to sit on the sidelines now. Please join us by sharing our story with everyone you know.

Page 1 of 41234
© The DOMA Project

Attorney advertising

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.