23 Years Together, Raising Four Children, Mark and Frédéric Rejoice at Their Approved Green Card Case

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In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Mark Himes and Frédéric Deloizy, stepped up to the front lines of the fight against DOMA early on in 2011 by filing a marriage-based green card petition and advocating for full equality for their family. As a foreigner, Frédéric, a French national, had seen both his work visa and his student visa expire, and the time he had left to share with his family was limited under DOMA.

Frédéric and Mark were wed in California in 2008, 18 years after they first met. In two decades together, they have adopted four beautiful children. They welcomed their two oldest, John and Claire, just days after their respective birthdays in 2000 and 2003. On their 19th anniversary in April 2009, Fred and Mark welcomed Jacob and Joshua, both four years old at the time.

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Mark and Frédéric have put countless efforts over the past few years into staying together as a family in the United States: building their home, and putting down their roots. On January 11th, last year, they appeared before a Philadelphia Immigration Officer for a “Green Card” interview to put forward the evidence of their two-decades relationship and their marriage to be allowed to stay together with their children in this country.

After twenty-three years together for Mark and Frédéric, this family of six in Pennsylvania was notified that Fred and Mark’s green card case was, at last, approved. Despite the hurdles they faced to stay together as a same-sex binational couple, Fred and Mark decided that they must fight for the green card based on their marriage and today that fight was won at long last.

We rejoice with Mark, Frédéric, John, Claire, Jacob and Joshua, as after a long struggle, this family can resume their lives, treated equally under the law.

Mark & Fred with their family

Mark, Frédéric, John, Claire, Jacob and Joshua at the White House Easter Egg Roll in 2010

 

Green Card Granted: Victory over DOMA for Becky and Sanne in North Carolina

Late Sunday night, DOMA Project co-founder, immigration attorney Lavi Soloway, boarded a red eye flight from Los Angeles to Charlotte, North Carolina, to witness the equal protection guarantee of the U.S. Constitution work its magic for a married binational lesbian couple, Becky and Sanne, and their beautiful daughter, Willow.

 Becky & Sanne en route to green card interview w/ atty Lavi Soloway

Becky & Sanne en route to green card interview with attorney Lavi Soloway

Although North Carolina voters passed the infamous anti-gay state constitutional “Amendment 1″ in May 2012 that bars The Tar Heel State from recognizing and performing marriages or civil unions of same-sex couples, Masliah & Soloway clients, Becky and Sanne, who married in the Netherlands, were treated just as any other married couple as they arrived at their green card interview on Monday, August 5th, at 10 a.m. at the USCIS office in Charlotte. The Officer thoroughly reviewed the journey of their relationship which began in India and included time spent in Belgium and the Netherlands as well as Africa. The Officer was satisfied that they had provided sufficient evidence of the bona fides of their marriage and officially re-opened the denied green card application (the Board of Immigration Appeals had already ordered the green card petition to be re-opened) and adjudicated it at the same time.

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.)

The DOMA Project participants, Becky and Sanne had been on the forefront of the fight for equality, filing for a green card last year and telling their story in print and on screen. Just before Mother’s Day Becky and Sanne had 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. Today, in the post-DOMA reality for which they so visibly and zealously advocated, Becky and Sanne finally had their long-awaited interview with the USCIS Charlotte office.

At the conclusion of the interview, the USCIS Officer announced with a smile that Sanne was now a lawful permanent resident of the United States, and Becky and Sanne shared a hug and tears of joy. Just 75 minutes after the interview began, USCIS ordered production of the actual green card which is expected to come by mail the next week. The USCIS Officer made the extraordinary gesture of placing into Sanne’s passport a red stamp, indicating that she was a “Lawful Permanent Resident” secured by the official seal of the USCIS in order to facilitate her need to renew her expired driver’s license and “get on with her life” without further delay. As Becky and Sanne parted ways with their attorney at the Charlotte airport a few minutes ago, there were hugs and more tears. “We did it!” they all seemed to say in unison.

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Becky and Sanne are living a tangible, genuine triumph of the Windsor case: post-DOMA‬ reality. Thanks to Edie Windsor’s incredible determination and courage and their own resolve to be treated equally, Becky and Sanne are well on the way to build a better future for themselves and their daughter in North Carolina.

This is what equality looks like.

Rick & Gonzalo: Same-Day Green Card Approval for Married Gay Couple in San Francisco, Just Hours After Interview

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In 2012, after years of fighting DOMA as a binational couple from Argentina and San Francisco, Gonzalo proposed to Rick with 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. Yes, he said.

Rick and Gonzalo were married in 2013: they called the New York Blizzard of 2013 the icing on their wedding cake. It was then that Rick and Gonzalo joined the other binational couples with The DOMA Project and put their faith in The DOMA Project’s ground-breaking strategy to fight the Defense of Marriage Act by filing for their green card even when their case was not yet approvable.

In March 2013, Rick filed a green card petition for Gonzalo, just like any other American citizen would do for his foreign-born spouse.

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Today, as Rick and Gonzalo attended their marriage-based green card interview, their attorney Lavi Soloway‘s eyes welled up with “happy tears” as they presented the evidence of their relationship: the interview was the first one that he had attended with a married gay couple since the Supreme Court struck down DOMA, a historic milestone in a twenty-year career as an immigration lawyer working with LGBT families.

The USCIS officer, as expected, treated Rick and Gonzalo exactly as she would have treated any other married couple. She noted the historical nature of the event, but proceeded to review the evidence of their relationship and their marriage thoroughly.

Just five hours after the interview, Rick and Gonzalo learned that their green card case was granted in record time. USCIS notified their attorney by e-mail and he called to relay the unexpectedly fast decision.

Today Rick and Gonzalo were treated as though DOMA never existed. After more than five years spent traveling between Buenos Aires and San Francisco and often separated for long periods by U.S. immigration law, they finally have the green light to build a future together here.

This is what equality looks like!

© The DOMA Project

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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.