In a Landmark Case Spanning Four Decades, USCIS Recognizes Same-sex Marriage from 1975 and Approves Gay Couple’s Immigrant Visa Petition That It Had Denied 41 Years Ago, After Board of Immigration Appeals Reopens the Case
In a series of recent decisions, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have recognized as valid the April 21, 1975 marriage of two gay men, Richard Adams and Anthony Sullivan, leading to the agency’s approval of a green card petition filed by Adams 41 years ago on behalf of Sullivan, an Australian citizen.
“The federal government’s recognition of their 1975 marriage is groundbreaking because it affirms that the constitutional protection of the right to marry extends to a marriage entered into by a same sex couple that took place decades ago,” said their attorney Lavi Soloway.
“This outcome is an example of the potentially far reaching ripple effects of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 landmark marriage equality decision in Obergefell v Hodges,” Soloway added.
After Adams and Sullivan married in Boulder, Colorado in 1975, Adams filed immigration petition so that Sullivan could be granted a “green card” as his spouse. The petition was infamously denied by the Los Angeles District Office of the then-INS on November 24, 1975 with just one offensive sentence: “You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots.”
Adams died in December 2012, but Sullivan continued their four decade long fight for recognition of their marriage and for a “green card” under provisions of the immigration law that include surviving spouses of American citizens as “immediate relatives.” In 2014, Sullivan, through his attorney, Lavi Soloway, filed a Motion to Reopen and Reconsider Adams’ denied petition citing changed laws and numerous recent court rulings on same-sex marriage.
“In 2014 we asked USCIS to take the steps necessary to reopen Adams’ 1975 petition in light of the Supreme Court ruling striking down the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” and subsequent victories by gay couples in marriage equality cases.” The last ruling on their petition had been issued by the Board of Immigration Appeals in 1978,” explained Soloway.
Sullivan also wrote to President Obama, requesting that the government issue an apology, posthumously, to Richard Adams, for the degrading and outrageous language used in the denial of his green card petition in 1975. The White House referred the request to the Director of the USCIS, Léon Rodriguez, who on August 27, 2014, issued a heartfelt written apology to both Richard and Tony “for the deeply offensive and hateful language used in the November 24, 1975 decision.”
“After the Supreme Court ruling on Marriage Equality, USCIS acted on our request to apply constitutionally valid principles to the 1975 green card petition. As a result, on December 1, 2015 the Board of Immigration Appeals ordered the petition be reopened and remanded the matter to USCIS to reconsider the original denial,” said attorney Lavi Soloway.
In January 2016, USCIS approved the “green card” petition that Richard Adams, a naturalized U.S. citizen, had filed on April 28, 1975 on behalf of his Australian spouse, Anthony Sullivan. USCIS interviewed Sullivan at the Los Angeles District Office in March this year, in the same office from which the predecessor agency, the INS, had issued the denial using an anti-gay epithet four decades earlier.
On April 21, 2016, on what would have been the couple’s 41st wedding anniversary, USCIS approved Anthony Sullivan’s green card application. The “green card” was received by Sullivan last month at his home in Hollywood.
With the federal government’s recognition of their 1975 marriage as valid, Sullivan and Adams have become the first same-sex couple in U.S. history to be legally married. They lived together and remained married until Richard Adams’ death on December 17, 2012, giving them the added distinction of being the longest married same-sex couple in U.S. history to date.
While a series of decisions in recent months by the Board of Immigration Appeals and USCIS led to this outcome, Richard and Tony’s case itself has a long history.
Thomas G. Miller and Kirk Marcolina meticulously chronicled their 40-year love story and struggle to remain together in the 2014 feature documentary “Limited Partnership.” It had its national broadcast on PBS’ Independent Lens series on June 15, 2015 and brought renewed attention to the couple’s untenable situation.
On April 21, 1975, Anthony Sullivan and Richard Adams—who had been together as a couple at that time for almost four years—were issued a marriage license by a Boulder, Colorado County Clerk, Clela Rorex, and were married on the same day. Rorex made headlines nationwide at the time when she issued licenses to six gay couples; the state of Colorado never invalidated them.
After receiving the initial stinging rejection of Richard Adams’ marriage-based petition in 1975, the couple fought back, bringing what became a high-profile lawsuit in federal court demanding that the government recognize their marriage for immigration purposes. The legal challenge was a steep uphill effort that was rejected at each step by the courts.
“The primary case, Adams v. Howerton, sought to force the immigration service to recognize their marriage so that Anthony would be allowed to remain in the United States permanently as the spouse of a U.S. citizen. Their argument — that to discriminate against them because they were two men was a violation of their constitutional rights — is familiar and obvious today, but at the time it was unheard of,” said their attorney, Lavi Soloway.
After ten years of litigation they lost a final appeal before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The 1985 ruling dismissing the appeal, which forced Sullivan to leave the United States or be deported within 60 days, was written by Judge Anthony Kennedy, who, after being appointed to the Supreme Court, went on to be the swing vote and author of the U.S. Supreme Court’s two major decisions in the last three years that extended constitutional protection to same-sex marriages.
“The unique and historic nature of this case cannot be understated. The U.S. government not only apologized directly to Anthony Sullivan, but, for the first time since the Supreme Court established the right of same-sex couples to marry as a protected, fundamental liberty—the Immigration Service has shown its willingness to correctly apply recent Court rulings and to recognize as valid this same-sex marriage that took place in 1975. Undaunted by setbacks in the 1970s and 1980s Richard and Anthony never wavered in their belief that their marriage was valid and should be treated with dignity and respect. Eventually the Supreme Court and the Immigration Service caught up with them,” said their attorney, Lavi Soloway.
Forced to leave the U.S. in 1985, Sullivan, along with Adams, traveled to Europe and spent eleven months bouncing around that continent until they returned to the U.S. Sullivan remained in the United States for decades and vowed not to be separated from Adams, despite never being granted lawful immigration status.
Anthony Sullivan was honored at an LGBT Pride event in June 2016 by the Mayor of West Hollywood, Lauren Meister, who issued an official proclamation recognizing Sullivan’s extraordinary role as a pioneer in the gay rights movement.
Anthony Sullivan released the following statement after receiving his green card:
“By issuing the green card, the government agreed that we should be treated with the same respect, dignity and legal status as any other married couple.
Of course this moment is bittersweet because I cannot share it with Richard. But at the same time, I have finished the mission that shaped our lives as a couple. We were never separated, it is true. But we also won because we didn’t back down, we never gave up, we believed in ourselves and in the love that we had for each other.
For this I have tremendous gratitude to all who have fought with us and have helped make this day possible. I feel deeply that Richard and I had the opportunity to make a difference, and that is a remarkable thing. I hope our story inspires others to fight injustice, just as we were inspired by those who came before us. Richard would be so happy today with the result. We can look back on our lives and say that despite all the difficulties, Richard and I had a wonderful life together.”
FOR INTERVIEWS WITH ANTHONY SULLIVAN, LAVI SOLOWAY OR CLELA ROREX
CALL/TEXT 323-457-4205 OR EMAIL [email protected]
The DOMA Project is a pro bono advocacy and education campaign focused on the historic exclusion of married gay and lesbian couples under U.S. immigration law and its lasting effects.
FOR INFORMATION about the documentary “LIMITED PARTNERSHIP”
CALL/TEXT Director THOMAS G. MILLER TEL:310-663-9874
DOCUMENTS AND PHOTOS ATTACHED TO THIS PRESS RELEASE
- USCIS DECISION APPROVING APRIL 28, 1975 GREEN CARD PETITION
- USCIS APRIL 21, 2016 APPROVAL OF ANTHONY SULLIVAN’S GREEN CARD
- A COPY OF ANTHONY SULLIVAN’S GREEN CARD
- COPY OF MARRIAGE LICENSE (CERTIFIED COPY RECEIVED FROM THE OFFICE OF THE BOULDER COLORADO COUNTY CLERK AND RECORDER ON APRIL 8, 2014)
- DECEMBER 1, 2016 BOARD OF IMMIGRATION APPEALS RULING
- TWO PHOTOS OF ANTHONY SULLIVAN RECEIVING GREEN CARD (CREDIT: DAVID W ROSS): Photo 1, Photo 2
- PHOTO OF ANTHONY SULLIVAN AND ATTORNEY LAVI SOLOWAY LEAVING THE FEDERAL BUILDING IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES ON APRIL 21, 2014 AFTER FILING THE MOTION THAT EVENTUALLY RESULTED IN THE APPROVAL OF HIS GREEN CARD CASE (CREDIT: DAVID W ROSS)
- PHOTO OF RICHARD AND TONY IN 1975 (CREDIT: PAT ROCCO)
- NOVEMBER 24, 1975 DENIAL OF RICHARD ADAMS’ PETITION (THE INFAMOUS “TWO FAGGOTS” LETTER)
- 2014 APOLOGY LETTER FROM USCIS DIRECTOR LEON RODRIGUEZ
- CHRONOLOGICAL HISTORY OF THE CASE
SIGN THIS PETITION: We stand with Anthony Sullivan in his fight for recognition of his marriage to Richard Adams. The Obama administration should reverse the 1975 Green Card denial in which the Immigration Service called this gay couple “two faggots.”
Anthony Sullivan in May 2014
In 1975, gay rights pioneers, Anthony (Tony) Sullivan, an Australian, and Richard Adams, an American citizen, were one of the first same-sex couples in the United States to be legally married. After applying for a green card based on their marriage, Tony and Richard received an official denial from the Immigration Service in a letter that stated only: “You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots.”
The couple then began a high profile, ten-year legal battle, suing the Immigration Service for recognition of their marriage and became the first lawfully married same-sex couple to sue the federal government for equal treatment under U.S. Immigration law. Tony and Richard shared their lives together as a couple for more than 41 years until Richard Adams’ untimely death in December 2012.
We urge you to direct U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to resolve Anthony Sullivan’s immigration status and recognize his 37-year marriage to Richard Adams by granting his green card petition as the widower of a U.S. citizen under our immigration law.
The time is now to write the final chapter in Anthony Sullivan and Richard Adams’ fight for equality.
Watch Trailer for “Limited Partnership,” the Upcoming Documentary Film about Pioneering Gay Rights Activists, Anthony Sullivan and Richard Adams, Whose Historic 1975 Marriage and Fight for a Green Card Defined the Modern Marriage Equality Movement
The upcoming documentary feature film “Limited Partnership” will have its world premiere on June 14 at the prestigious Los Angeles Film Festival. The film recounts the personal story of gay rights pioneers Anthony (Tony) Sullivan and Richard Adams, one of the first same-sex couples to be legally married in 1975. After applying for a green card based on their marriage, Tony and Richard received an official denial from the Immigration Service in a letter that stated only “You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots.” The couple then began a high profile, ten year legal battle, suing the Immigration Service for recognition of their marriage and became the first lawfully married same-sex couple to sue the federal government for equal treatment under U.S. Immigration law. They remained together for more than 41 years until the untimely death of Richard Adams in 2012.
“Limited Partnership” follows Richard and Tony’s 40-year struggle to stay together in the U.S., in the context of the wider history of the fight for equality by LGBT community and same-sex binational couples, from early days of the struggle right up to the historic U.S. Supreme Court rulings last year striking down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act.
On April 21, 1975, after learning that the county clerk in Boulder, Colorado was issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Adams, a naturalized U.S. citizen, married Sullivan who is Australian. The couple returned home to Los Angeles and Richard Adams immediately filed a green card petition with INS on Sullivan’s behalf for the spouse of an American citizen. They became one of the first gay couples in American history to legally marry and the first same-sex couple to sue the U.S. government for recognition of their marriage.
Don’t miss previous QP Exclusive: Interview with Anthony Sullivan, Equal Rights Pioneer:
Statement by Anthony Sullivan, April 22, 2014:
“On Monday, April 21, I appeared at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in downtown Los Angeles to ask the federal government to revisit their denial of the green card petition that filed by my spouse Richard Adams on my behalf in 1975 shortly after we became one of the first gay couples in American history to be lawfully married.
“Our green card petition was denied with a shocking letter from the INS that contained only one sentence calling us “faggots.” We sued the government and fought to be treated with dignity and respect and in the end we could not overcome the prejudices and bigotry of the time. Today we live in a different world. I want to the current Immigration Service to reopen my case, and reverse the denial of that green card petition so that I can be classified as the widower of an American citizen and obtain a green card after nearly forty years. My beloved Richard, who left us in December 2012, does not deserve to have the word “faggots” associated with his name in an official government file for all eternity. As an American citizen, he should have been treated fairly during his life, and now that he is gone, the least that the government can do is to render a legally and morally correct decision.
“I am fighting this battle 39 year later for Richard and for myself. I should be permitted to apply for the green card that was denied to me in 1975, and my marriage to Richard should finally be respected and treated equally under the law.
“Returning to the very same building where the original decision was made to reject us and insult us with the original “faggots” letter was certainly difficult. I certainly experienced a lot of unpleasant anticipation and concern knowing what I was about to do. But in the end, the experience of filing the Motion to Reopen with the clerk was clarifying. It was a positive experience to walk into their offices and submit my request for justice knowing that the individuals who work in that office now approve green cards for gay and lesbian spouses of American citizens as a routine part of their work.
“In the final analysis, I am optimistic. The world has changed and we are no longer labeled as “psychopathic personalities” and “mental defectives” by the immigration law as we were back then. I am a great believer in redemption and second opportunities. The government has an opportunity to do the right thing now.
Please contact my attorney Lavi Soloway at (323)577-9365 for further information, or see www.domaproject.org for additional historical documents and updates.
UPDATE: Anthony Sullivan, Gay Rights Pioneer, Seeks Reversal of 1975 Green Card Denial Based on Historic Marriage
On Monday, April 21, at 10 a.m., Anthony Sullivan, a 72-year-old gay immigrant, asked the Los Angeles Field Office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) to reopen his marriage-based green card petition which this same office denied four decades ago.
Sixteen months after the death of his spouse in December 2012, Sullivan returns to fight for recognition of their marriage and for a green card, this time as the widower of an American citizen. Thirty-nine years to the day since Anthony Sullivan and Richard Adams were legally married, Sullivan continues to fight for the right to have their marriage recognized by the federal government. By filing a Motion to Reopen and Reconsider with USCIS, Sullivan will ask that Adams’ 1975 green card petition be retroactively approved and automatically converted to a widower’s petition, which would give Sullivan the right to apply for a green card.
On April 21, Anthony Sullivan and his attorney, Lavi Soloway, gave the Immigration Service and the Obama administration a unique opportunity to correct an historic wrong and reverse the gross injustice of its denial of the 1975 petition by putting Sullivan on the path to a green card.
Gay Immigrant Seeks Reversal of Infamous 1975 Green Card Denial, Based on Historic Same-Sex Marriage
On Monday, April 21, at 10 a.m., Anthony Sullivan, a 72-year-old gay immigrant, will ask the Los Angeles Field Office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) to reopen his marriage-based green card petition which this same office denied four decades ago.
In a letter dated November 24, 1975 and addressed to Sullivan’s spouse, Richard Adams, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (“INS”) wrote only a single inflammatory sentence to deny the petition:
“You have failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots.”
Anthony Sullivan and Richard Adams fought back in a high-profile lawsuit, demanding that the federal government recognize their marriage for immigration purposes. Following ten years of litigation, they lost in a final ruling at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Sixteen months after the death of his spouse in December 2012, Sullivan now returns to fight for recognition of their marriage and for a green card, this time as the widower of an American citizen. By filing a Motion to Reopen and Reconsider with USCIS, Sullivan will ask that Adams’ 1975 green card petition be retroactively approved and automatically converted to a widower’s petition, which would give Sullivan the right to apply for a green card. This would be consistent with what is a routine procedure available to opposite-sex couples in similar circumstances. Sullivan and Adams were together for 41 years after first meeting on May 5, 1971 at a Los Angeles gay bar called “The Closet.” Soon after they started dating, Sullivan and Adams decided they wanted to be married. On April 21, 1975, after learning that the county clerk in Boulder, Colorado was issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Adams, a naturalized U.S. citizen, married Sullivan who is Australian. The couple returned home to Los Angeles and Richard Adams immediately filed a green card petition with INS on Sullivan’s behalf for the spouse of an American citizen. They became one of the first gay couples in American history to legally marry and the first same-sex couple to sue the U.S. government for recognition of their marriage.
Thirty-nine years to the day since Anthony Sullivan and Richard Adams were legally married, Sullivan continues to fight for the right to have their marriage recognized by the federal government. On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the law preventing the U.S. government from recognizing legally married same-sex couples, finding that discrimination against married same-sex couples violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. A few days later, the then-Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, announced that USCIS would recognize same-sex marriages for immigration purposes.
On April 21, Anthony Sullivan and his attorney, Lavi Soloway, will give the Immigration Service and the Obama administration a unique opportunity to correct an historic wrong and reverse the gross injustice of its denial of the 1975 petition by putting Sullivan on the path to a green card.
“We are asking the government to reopen and reconsider the denial of the marriage-based green card petition filed by Richard Adams in 1975 and to approve that petition. In doing so, the Immigration Service will fulfill the promise of equality guaranteed by the Constitution. Granting our motion and approving this petition is consistent with the recent policies of the administration and the Immigration Service to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples. The widows and widowers of gay and lesbian Americans who seek to resolve their immigration status must have access to the provisions of law already available to other surviving spouses of U.S. citizens who are permitted to self-petition for a green card,” said Lavi S. Soloway, a partner in the immigration law firm, Masliah & Soloway. The firm’s partners, Noemi Masliah and Lavi Soloway, founded The DOMA Project in 2010, a pro bono advocacy and education campaign focused on the historic exclusion of married gay and lesbian couples under U.S. immigration law and its lasting effects.
“Although we are sad Richard Adams did not live to see this day, we are optimistic the government will grant this Motion to Reopen and take the necessary steps to fulfill his desire that Mr. Sullivan be granted lawful permanent resident status by issuing a green card on the basis of their marriage. This unprecedented request is a matter of basic decency and tests our American ideals of equality and justice. We are asking the federal government, at long last, to treat this marriage with the dignity and respect it deserves, and, in so doing, to repudiate the unacceptable and hateful language that was used by INS in 1975.” Soloway said.
Listen to QP Exclusive: Interview with Anthony Sullivan, Equal Rights Pioneer
Follow-up Interview with Anthony Sullivan:
For further information, please contact David Valk or Erin Taylor at (323) 577-9365 or [email protected].
USCIS Approves 2010 Green Card Petition for Pioneering Gay Couple Who Stopped the First DOMA Deportation
In the summer of 2010, Josh and Henry married in Connecticut, eight years after Henry first arrived in this country with his mother and sister from Venezuela. A failed employment-based immigration case filed by an unscrupulous lawyer had resulted in Henry being placed into deportation proceedings. After approaching the law firm, Masliah & Soloway, they joined our newly-formed campaign, The DOMA Project.
Masliah & Soloway filed one of their first green card petitions for a married same-sex couple on behalf of Josh and Henry. They then set off on a program of public advocacy that stretched from mainstream television and print to social media. On September 26, 2010, with Henry’s mother, Luz, and attorney Lavi Soloway, The DOMA Project attended a rally for Marriage Equality in lower Manhattan with other binational couples, for the first time fighting to “Stop The Deportations.”
And that is how it all started. What followed was a three-year campaign in Immigration Courts, USCIS offices and in the Court of Public Opinion, engaging the White House, U.S. Senators and Josh and Henry’s strongly supportive Congressman, Rush Holt.
Josh and Henry, who have been together since 2006, not only inspired hundreds of other couples to join the campaign and take a more direct approach, but also proved by their actions that a small group of committed individuals could bring about change.
In the spring of 2011, Josh and Henry won a major victory when ICE agreed to stop deportation proceedings against Henry, and for the first time the government agreed to close proceedings acknowledging that this deportation would not be taking place if not for DOMA. We salute them today and look forward to sharing more good news here about other couples who are finally experiencing what it means to win equality and end discrimination against LGBT families in US immigration law.
This week, Josh and Henry learned that their green card petition filed in 2010 in defiance of DOMA has been approved exactly three years after it was filed. During these three years, Josh and Henry’s narrative inspired hundreds of other binational couples to join a public fight for equality by sharing their own stories with their communities, with their elected officials, and with the media.
As Josh and Henry’s story comes full circle, our work continues to make sure that all lesbian and gay binational couples are swiftly reunited and able to move forward with their future with security and full protection of the laws.
23 Years Together, Raising Four Children, Mark and Frédéric Rejoice at Their Approved Green Card Case
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.