Jörn Weisbrodt and Rufus Wainwright Call For Equality for Lesbian and Gay Binational Couples

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German-born Jörn Weisbrodt and American singer song-writer, Rufus Wainwright, speak out for the right of all lesbian and gay binational couples to live together in U.S.

Rufus and Jörn were engaged in late 2010 and married in New York State on August 23, 2012.

“When we married in New York State, we made a vow to be together and support each other for the rest of our lives.

In 50 years we will look back at this day as we look back at the 1967 legalization of inter-racial marriages in U.S.: with disbelief that it took this long to recognize equality.

Our vow should be protected by the federal government allowing binational couples like us a path to a green card.”

Jörn Weisbrodt and Rufus Wainwright

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

leahy

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]

VICTORY! Immigration Judge Delays “DOMA Deportation” for Gay Couple for a Third Time, Giving USCIS Another Chance to Approve Their Green Card Petition

Brian and Alfonso Talk to the Media

Alfonso and Brian speak to the media outside San Francisco Immigration Court

DOMA Project participants, Brian and Alfonso, were due in San Francisco Immigration Court today to face the Immigration Judge, again. Back in March 2012, at their first hearing, Alfonso faced deportation after being stopped for a traffic violation and being placed in the custody of Immigration & Customs Enforcement. Brian filed a green card petition for Alfonso based on their marriage, and decided to fight for that green card. Bravely and defiantly, Brian and Alfonso told their story over and over. Alfonso was brought to the United States from Mexico when he was only 14 years old by his parents and has always lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. The rest of his family members obtained green cards or U.S. citizenship, but Alfonso was left behind as he aged-out of provisions meant to keep parents and children together.

Alfonso and Brian met in 2001 and have been together as a committed couple for almost 12 years. In March 2012, surrounded by the media outside the Immigration Court, Brian and Alfonso celebrated their first victory, when the Immigration Judge agreed to postpone proceedings for seven months to allow USCIS to process the green card petition. Despite DOMA, both the government prosecutor and the Judge appeared to support the couple’s determination to fight for full equality. When October 2012 rolled around, USCIS still had not made a decision on the green card petition, so Brian and Alfonso, through their attorney, DOMA Project co-founder, Lavi Soloway, asked the Immigration Judge to delay the case again. She agreed. The new hearing date, May 2, 2013 was put on the Court’s calendar.

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Brian and Alfonso waited anxiously for a decision from USCIS. They were disappointed when the San Francisco District Office of USCIS denied the petition on the basis of DOMA last November without even giving them the respect and dignity of the green card interview they deserved. They quickly appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). In March, with a deportation hearing just about a month away, they decided to ask the Immigration Judge to delay the case again. The couple knew that delays of this nature were highly unusual. It was already a year since their first appearance in Court and they were not sure the Immigration Judge would agree to delay the case further now that USCIS had denied the petition.

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In their latest request to the Judge, they asked for more time, pointing out that the BIA was rejecting all denials of green card petitions decided by USCIS on the basis of Section 3 of DOMA and that the BIA was re-opening those petitions and sending them back USCIS ordering full adjudication including interviews. The Immigration Judge appears to have sided again with Brian and Alfonso, providing enough time for the BIA to rule on their appeal and for the USCIS to finally approve their green card petition before the next hearing date.  Brian and Alfonso are confident that the BIA will soon re-open their green card petition, and send it back to USCIS for complete adjudication. They see the light at the end of the tunnel in their fight for equality.

With the Supreme Court ruling on DOMA less than two months away the climate has shifted considerably in their favor. At the last minute, the Court called to inform Brian and Alfonso that the Judge had agreed to postpone proceedings until November 2013. When they go back to Court this fall, Brian and Alfonso expect the deportation proceedings to be terminated so that Alfonso can finally receive his green card.

 

 

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

Ris and Bree

Ris and Bree

My wife and I met by chance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ris and Bree at Stonehenge

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

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

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

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

Our families matter. We must not remain silent.

In Texas, Joe & Gabriel Celebrate Five Years Together, But DOMA Threatens their Future

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Joe and Gabriel

Five years ago, on April 5th, 2008 I was enjoying my last afternoon in my first New York trip and I decided to spend it at an Expo at the Javits Center. I never thought that day my life was going to change forever.

My name is Gabriel Zamora and I am from Mexico. I was working as an EFL/ESL Teacher in Mexico. Joe Lee, my partner, is from New York, and he is a banker.

That afternoon at the Expo I bought a sandwich and a soda for lunch and I sat at one of the tables. I started eating my food when I noticed the guy seating in front of me was staring at me. I got intrigued about it because it was the first time in my life I was in a situation like this one. We looked at each other for some time until our eyes crossed and I smiled. Then, I saw he was getting ready to leave with his friends, and I saw him approaching to me. He didn’t say anything to me; he just gave me a piece of folded paper and walked away. I opened the paper and it said “You look better when you smile” and his phone number.

I got so excited and I did not know what to do. That evening I went to the theater and I could not focus on the play. I called him that evening and we decided to meet. When our eyes met, we knew we were soul mates. We went for a hot chocolate to Starbucks and we talked and talked. It felt like we knew each other for a long time.

He took me to the airport next morning and that goodbye was so difficult for both of us. When I went back to Mexico, we started a long distance relationship through phone texts and Skype. We traveled back and forth regularly. We spend thousands of dollars and got into debt due to the high costs of plane tickets.

I started looking for options to move to America. I wanted to come legally and I could not find any options in New York. A friend of mine told me about an Alternative Certification program in Texas to become a bilingual teacher that sponsors work visas. I applied and got selected to come to Texas. Joe moved down to Texas to be with me. In 2009, I quit my safe job in Mexico and we moved to Texas to start our life together.

Joe is the most beautiful man in the universe. He is tall, kind, and he has the biggest and most beautiful heart ever. He protects me and fills my life with love, happiness, joy, and laughs. He is not 100% healthy though. He has Marfan’s syndrome, Chiary type 1 malformation and fibromyalgia. He needs medical attention in a regular basis so moving to Mexico is not an option for us.

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We have two dogs that we love so much. They are our kids. We bought Jerry in Mexico at a Walmart’s parking lot. She is a multi-poo who couldn’t even walk when we got her. Our second dog, Stephan, is a Manchester-terrier. They are both spoiled by their dads.

We could say we are fortunate we are both working and living a life as normal as possible. However, I might lose my job this summer and with that I will lose my immigration status. I am looking for other options but I haven’t found anything in concrete yet. I may be facing the same decision  thousands of binational gay couples face: stay in the country without a visa or return to my country and be separated from the man I love.

Last week, Joe and I celebrated our fifth anniversary. We went to celebrate in Las Vegas and we had a great time. We have shared some fun and great memories during a few trips we have made together. We have visited Atlantic City, Mazatlan Mexico, and Shreveport. But this trip to Las Vegas was really special because 5 years is a lot of time together and I can’t imagine my life without Joe and our dogs. We are the Lee-Zamora family and as a family we move forward together.

3DOMA does not let us live our lives without the constant fear of the  “what if.” What if I lose my job and have to go back to Mexico? What if Joe gets sick and I have no rights to be with him at the hospital? What if we want to buy a house but there is no job security and I can’t get any other job due to my immigration status? What if I want to study for a Master’s degree but I can’t access any student loans?

What if… what if… what if… This sort of insecurity makes it hard not to feel like Joe is a second class citizens in his own country, and that our family does not count.  We know better. We know that our love for each other is strong and that we deserve the same respect and equal protection of the laws.

We hope and pray that the Supreme Court strikes DOMA down because we want to get married in New York, where we met, and our plan is for Joe to file a green card petition for me on the basis of our marriage. Our goals are reasonable; we want to be treated like everybody else. Only then we would be able to start making plans to establish ourselves in a place for good. Buying a house or a car is not an option right now.

One thing is for sure. Our family, the Lee-Zamora family, will stick together. We thank The DOMA Project for everything to help encourage binational couples to face and fight back and against the horrible consequences of DOMA. Thank you to the whole team for all your support and hard work, and to the huge community of binational gay couples out there. We are going to win this together!  Above all, thank you for reading this far.  Please share our story when and where you can as it is the best way to make sure that when DOMA is gone, binational couples like us will be able to make the transition as smoothly as possible.

Jen and Rachel: Making Every Day Count in the Fight to Defeat DOMA

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Jen and Rachel at the United States Supreme Court on March 27, 2013

You could call it fate, coincidence or the stars aligning, but against all odds (including two broken down subway lines), our paths happened to cross in the most unlikely little corner of Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York. Whatever led us to Ginger’s Bar on that hot, sunny July afternoon ultimately altered our lives forever. When I met Rachel, there was no denying immediately the connection we shared. I was so comfortable being near her. It was instantly as if we had known each other for a lifetime.

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Like most Americans would be, I was enamored with her Liverpool accent. I was taken by her beautiful blue eyes and her witty rapport. We spent a few hours together at the bar before we had to go our separate ways. The next morning I was off to St. Louis to see my nephew for the week. Rachel and I spent the whole week on the phone, texting, talking and sending pictures back and forth. We got to know a lot about each other before we even had our first date; the night I got back from St. Louis. The connection between Rachel and I was so strong that I told my dad, within the first two weeks we were dating, that I was going to marry her.

7Marry is exactly what we did, only five months later on December 22, 2011. Rachel’s family had a trip planned to come in from the U.K. and since it was glaringly obvious to Rachel and I that we would be together for the rest of our lives, we didn’t see any point in waiting. During her parents annual holiday trip we decided we would go to City Hall, with our close friends and our families present and make it official.

It felt so great to able to say “my wife Rachel.” Over sixteen months later the excitement of being able to say the words “my wife” with pride have not lessened to any degree. Marriage is so sacred and so important, but it is so because of the two people who make it that way, not because of any other defined characteristic.

I have always been proud to be an American and I love my country. I love that we can have all types of people who can disagree so deeply about certain topics and we can each speak out about that. I truly respect this country for that. I am proud to say that I won a gold medal for my country in 2010, when I was selected as one of 45 women in this country to participate in the first ever international Women’s World Championship of Tackle Football (hopefully a prelude to football becoming an Olympic sport). I don’t want to have to make the choice to leave this country to be with my wife, but if I must make that decision, I will go wherever she goes, or wherever she is forced to go. I believe that this country will get it right and not force us to make that decision. Unfortunately, Rachel overstayed the authorized stay as a visa waiver visitor. She was planning on leaving the U.S. to go back to the U.K. despite her love for this country, because she was tired of living in fear of deportation. That was when Rachel and I met and it was obvious that this is where she is supposed to be.

Rachel and I live our lives very much like any other married couple. We live in a nice one bedroom apartment in New Jersey with our two cats. We spend time with my parents, extended family & friends on a weekly basis. We talk about our finances and what we would like our future to look like. We both have a passion for life & we live it to the fullest. As a cancer survivor, and having nearly lost my mom to five brain aneurisms this past November, I take nothing for granted. Both Rachel and I know that it’s important to find new ways to make each other laugh and get the most out of every moment we are blessed to spend together.

Rachel is a talented artist whose work has been exhibited throughout galleries in Chelsea and Tribecca, and her work has been featured on the MTV show “Downtown Girl,” and on USA Network’s Royal Pains. Rachel regularly donates artwork and her time to non-profit organizations. Rachel has had to turn down lucrative contract offers, as well as, overseas and long distant private commissions for her artwork, because of DOMA.

Like many other gay binational couples, we have been closely following the DOMA cases as they made their way through the courts from the beginning. When we learned in December that the U.S. Supreme Court was going to hear the challenge to the constitutionality of DOMA and Prop 8 we were elated and just knew that we had to be there.

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On March 26, 2013, Rachel and I jumped in the car after work and headed down to Washington D.C.  After checking into our hotel, and following a wonderful dinner, we decided to head down to the court after dark to just breathe it in. I will never forget the moment Rachel and I walked up the stairs towards the Supreme Court. Its colossal size reminded me of the colossal moment in history we were facing. As an attorney, well aware of the legal fight that would be going on inside those enormous walls, and as an American citizen so deeply affected by the fight, I instantly became overwhelmed by the gravity of that moment in history and I began to sob uncontrollably. Rachel grabbed me and we embraced on the steps of the Supreme Court. The moment was captured on camera by John Zangas, of the DC Media Group, who was nearby filming those that were lined up in hopes of being admitted to the oral argument the next morning on the Windsor case.

Photo: John Zangas, DC media group

The following morning we were up in the early hours and on the steps of the Supreme Court to be a part of this historic day. The energy was electric. Thousands of supporters rallying together for Edie Windsor & the rights of our community. After waiting online for almost three hours we were fortunate enough to get our hands on a five minute pass into the oral argument. It was such an incredible, humbling experience to be a part of what we hope will be the decision that will change this great country’s history in the right direction.

We continue to advocate and share our story over social media and encourage other binational couples to do the same. Every day from now until the Court rules, is a day that we can contribute to the defeat of DOMA. If we sit back and wait, we are failing ourselves. In the end, to perfect the idea of the more perfect union, to bring about change, and to achieve full equality for LGBT families, we must be fully engaged. We encourage others to share their story and to join The DOMA Project. Every day counts.

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Jen and Rachel

VIDEO: Watch Our Workshop, “Green Card Basics for Same-Sex Couples After DOMA”

laviworkshopThis video is the first in the series of live streamed workshops produced by the DOMA Project and hosted by co-founder, attorney Lavi Soloway. It was live streamed on Sunday April 14, 2013. 

Green Card Basics for Same-Sex Couples after DOMA focuses on the law and procedure for marriage-based green card petitions and fiancé(e) visas petitions for couples in the US, couples who are separated, and couples who are abroad.


Originally live streamed on You Tube on Sunday, April 14, 2013 

Supplementary outline:

Download (PDF, 1.41MB)

If you participated in the workshop, please take our follow-up anonymous survey in order to help us improve our future work

TAKE OUR SURVEY

ONLINE WORKSHOP: Green Card Basics for Same-Sex Couples After DOMA

 Green Card Basics for Same-Sex Couples After DOMA 

Live streamed on You Tube on Sunday, April 14
9 a.m. Pacific Time / 12 p.m. Eastern Time/ 5 p.m. British Summer Time

VIEW WORKSHOP RECORDING

greencardworkshop0414

The workshop will focus on the law and procedure for marriage-based green card petitions and fiancé(e) visas petitions for couples in the US, couples who are separated, and couples who are abroad.

View Presentation

Supplementary outline:

Download (PDF, 1.41MB)


Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on Defense of Marriage Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: On March 27th, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments in the case of Windsor v. United States, a challenge to Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Section 3 prohibits the Federal Government from recognizing same-sex marriages, including for the purposes of immigration. Because of DOMA, tens of thousands of legally married gay and lesbian Americans are not able to petition their spouse for a green card or apply for a fiancé(e) visa to bring their partner abroad to the United States.  The result for many couples is that they are forced to live thousands of miles apart and only able to spend time with their husband or wife for weeks at a time. Other couples are exiled from the United States all together, and must relocate to another country in order to live with their spouse.


 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Contact: Lavi Soloway
Phone: 323-599-6915
[email protected]
[email protected]

DOWNLOAD PDF


MARRIED GAY AND LESBIAN COUPLES CONTINUE TO BE DENIED ACCESS TO GREEN CARDS BECAUSE OF FEDERAL LAW

 

Binational Couples & The DOMA Project Co-Founder Lavi Soloway Rally Outside the Supreme Court for an End to Law Which Keeps Families Apart or Exiled Overseas

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On March 27th, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments in the case of Windsor v. United States, a challenge to Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Section 3 prohibits the Federal Government from recognizing same-sex marriages, including for the purposes of immigration. Because of DOMA, tens of thousands of legally married gay and lesbian Americans are not able to petition their spouse for a green card or apply for a fiancé(e) visa to bring their partner abroad to the United States.  The result for many couples is that they are forced to live thousands of miles apart and only able to spend time with their husband or wife for weeks at a time. Other couples are exiled from the United States all together, and must relocate to another country in order to live with their spouse.

At issue in Windsor v. United States is whether the Federal Government was permitted to tax the estate that Thea Spyer left to her wife Edith Windsor as if the two were legal strangers. While estates left from one spouse to another are not typically taxed, Edith Windsor was given an over $360,000 tax bill.  The Supreme Court will hear arguments as to whether DOMA violates the Equal Protection clause of the United States Constitution and whether the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group has standing to defend the challenge to DOMA. In 8 lower Federal Court decisions, each reviewing court has found that DOMA violates the constitution because it discriminates against lesbian and gay Americans.

“The DOMA applies as a matter of federal law whether or not your marriage is recognized under state law. Your spouse is not a person of the opposite sex.  Therefore, under the DOMA your petition must be denied.”

The DOMA Project has filed over 40 green card and fiancé(e) visas for same-sex couples since the campaign began in 2010.  While U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has continued to deny these applications based solely on Section 3 of DOMA, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has, in every case it has reviewed, told USCIS that is must determine the validity of these marriages on their face, and cannot deny these applications out of hand. The Obama Administration and the Department of Homeland Security have the prerogative to hold these applications in abeyance; neither approving nor denying these applications until the Supreme Court issues a final decision in June.  An abeyance policy would respect the marriages of American citizens and allow gay and lesbian foreign-born partners to be reunited with their US citizen spouses in the United States.


For more information about today’s announcement, or to schedule an interview, please contact Derek Tripp or Lavi Soloway.  Lavi Soloway is an attorney for couples participating in The DOMA Project 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]


WATCH OUR POWERFUL VIDEO: Winning the Future, LGBT Americans Produce Groundswell of Support for Marriage Equality in Advance of Supreme Court Rulings

By Brynn Gelbard and Lavi Soloway

In the last week we passed some incredible milestones in the fight for marriage equality. First, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) became the first sitting Republican U.S. senator to declare his support for marriage equality, and after a career of voting against our rights, no less. Then, by video, Hillary Clinton endorsed the right of same-sex couples to marry, and it was the strongest such endorsement by any American political leader so far. Finally, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found that support for marriage equality has skyrocketed in just two years, with a staggering proportion of every demographic supporting equality for lesbian and gay couples. Overall, 58 percent of Americans polled said that they support our right to marry (previous polls had been creeping above the 50-percent line, but this was the first dramatic leap toward 60 percent). A third of Republicans, nearly two thirds of independents, almost three quarters of Democrats, about half of senior citizens and an astounding 81 percent of young voters polled said they support marriage equality.

 

 

What to make of this surge forward on marriage equality? There can only be one conclusion: LGBT families are standing up, assuming equality and challenging everyone to see their humanity. By reaching out to our neighbors, families, co-workers, fellow congregants, employers and friends, and by living open and honest lives, we have changed the hearts and minds of more than 100 million Americans, but we must keep up this pace. We have work left to do.

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Love Stories: Binational Couples on the Front Lines Against DOMA is a series of short films produced by the DeVote Campaign and the DOMA Project, featuring lesbian and gay spouses discussing life under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prevents the federal government from recognizing their marriages for immigration purposes. For many in the U.S., DOMA is an obscure law that has no effect on them, so they don’t even know what it is, but for the couples portrayed in these pieces, their entire lives are at stake because of it, but they are fighting back by sharing their stories while ultimately ensuring that their lived experiences are archived as history never to be forgotten or repeated.

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We must defeat DOMA so that our marriages are recognized at the federal level, putting an end to the catastrophic discrimination faced by countless same-sex spouses, including binational couples, who are denied green cards despite being legally married. We must demand that our federal government, like all our state and local governments, treat our families with dignity and respect, and that our laws do the same. We have come a long way in a short time because we have truth on our side. Ultimately, however, our success is not the result of momentum inevitably moving in our favor. Rather, it is the collective voices of LGBT Americans and their allies that are changing our world.


Originally published on Huffington Post on March 20, 2013

Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker Brynn Gelbard started the DeVote Campaign in 2010 after having to cancel her wedding because of the passing of Proposition 8. For more, visit devotecampaign.comfacebook.com/devotecampaign and twitter.com/devotecampaign.

In 2010, with his law partner, Noemi Masliah, Lavi Soloway launched the DOMA Project, a campaign to stop the deportations, separations and exile of binational lesbian and gay couples. For more, follow domaproject.orgfacebook.com/thedomaproject and twitter.com/gaybinationals.

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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.