VIDEO: For Thousands of Binational Couples Like Jackie & Gloria, The Fight Continues For The Right to Be Together

Every day in this country, thousands of legally married lesbian and gay couples, like Jackie and Gloria, fight for something most of us take for granted — the simple right to be together.


On February 22, 2012, San Francisco Judge Jeffrey S. White became the second Federal District Court judge in America to rule that DOMA was unconstitutional.  The first such ruling came from Boston Judge Joseph Tauro in July 2010.  At the time of his ruling, Judge Tauro was a 79-year old Republican appointee, President Richard Nixon’s longest-serving appointee to the federal bench. Tauro wrote two opinions that summer issued on the same day, each striking down DOMA as unconstitutional.  Nearly two years passed before the appeals of Judge Tauro’s decisions would be heard and decided by the First Circuit Court of Appeals.  As we all know now, last week a three-judge panel of that august appellate court ruled unanimously that DOMA was unconstitutional. The opinion itself was authored by Justice Boudin, an appointee of President George H.W. Bush.

Two more Federal District Courts have also found DOMA to be unconstitutional in just the past two weeks. Yesterday, in New York’s Federal District Court for the Southern District, Clinton appointee, Judge Barbara S. Jones, declared DOMA to be unconstitutional in a case involving the now-famous LGBT rights activist, plaintiff, and widow, Edie Windsor.  Last month, Oakland, California Judge Claudia Wilken  also found DOMA to be unconstitutional in a similar case.  In all there have been five rulings by four federal judges declaring DOMA Section 3 to be unconstitutional, and the unanimous federal appellate court ruling by the First Circuit in the “Gill” case, also striking down DOMA Section 3 as a violation of the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution.

What does this mean for married lesbian and gay binational couples? The argument that the Obama administration should develop and insitute interim remedies immediately could hardly be stronger, as the fate of DOMA is now more wobbly than ever.  And yet the administration has done little to protect our families, instead citing DOMA as a reason for inaction.  We must keep up the pressure on the Obama administration to demand an “abeyance” policy. Green card petitions filed by gay and lesbian couples must not be denied. We cannot accept “DOMA denials” by an administration which has aggressively argued that DOMA violates the U.S. Constitution. No immigration reform or LGBT rights organization is currently engaged in a national “abeyance” campaign that would provide immediate relief for tends of thousands of lesbian and gay couples. The DOMA Project, by contrast, was conceived with exactly this advocacy in mind. To win full equality we must continue to achieve incremental gains. An abeyance policy, pending the final judicial resoultion of DOMA, is the appropriate next step. We must keep the focus on the harm caused every day to binational couples and our families, and we must be relentless. We cannot afford to sit back and wait for change to happen.

The fight is not over for binational couples, but there is some considerable wind at our backs. Make no mistake: the Supreme Court will still have the last word on whether the Defense of Marriage Act, i.e. whether the federal government’s refusal to recognize equally the legal marriages of same-sex couples, violates the U.S. constitution.  And there is no way to know for certain what the outcome will be or when that decision will come. It may be one year or it may be several years. Gay and lesbian Americans have put their lives on hold, spent their savings and sacrificed years of their lives, deprived of stability because they cannot access the green card process. That is not an acceptable status quo and we should not allow it to be our reality one day longer.

Americans have been forced to live in exile with their same-sex partners or spouses, simply because they are gay.  Their struggle continues on a daily basis.  Every day lesbian and gay binational couples are separated by thousands of miles and unable to be together; LGBT families are torn apart, with parents kept apart from their children by this unfair law, and there is something that this administration can do to prevent it. It must end now.
This administration has the power to accept all green card petitions filed by same-sex couples and put those cases on hold, thus providing legal status and employment authorization to every couple.  Gay and lesbian Americans should expect no less from this administration which has said repeatedly that DOMA is unconstitutional. If that is true, then the President should order an immediate moratorium on deportations of spouses of gay and lesbian American citizens.  The President should do what he has done before in other immigration law contexts when such dynamic change is afoot and a law is in a state of flux. President Obama should put on hold all green card cases filed by lesbian and gay Americans for their foreign spouses until the final judicial resolution of DOMA has been determined by the Supreme Court.

Abeyance is the only humane policy to keep thousands of LGBT families, as many as 25% of whom are raising children, together.


Watch: The Fight Continues for Jackie and Gloria

VIDEO: Every day in this country, thousands of legally married lesbian and gay couples, like Jackie and Gloria, fight for something most of us take for granted — the simple right to be together.

Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government refuses to  recognize, respect or honor their marriages for all legal purposes including immigration.

On April 4, Jackie and Gloria traveled to Boston to witness history. Sitting in a courtroom audience, they listened as judges and attorneys debated whether the Constitution guarantees their right to be treated equally as a married couple.

Less than 60 days later, the First Circuit Court of Appeals became the first appellate court in the United States to strike down DOMA, an important milestone on the road to full equality.

Yet, for Jackie and Gloria, nothing has changed, and they don’t have the luxury of waiting until the ultimate fate of DOMA is decided.

Looking at these two young women — so full of love for each other and wanting nothing more than to build a future together — we cannot allow this cruel and discriminatory law to tear them apart.

(Video by The DeVote Campaign in collaboration with Stop The Deportations – The DOMA Project)

Press Release: Married Binational Lesbian Couple in Massachusetts Reacts to First Circuit DOMA Ruling

Married Massachusetts lesbian couple fighting for greencard react to court ruling finding DOMA unconstitutional. Court ruling strengthens the case that the federal government must start protecting married same-sex couples from deportations, put green card cases on hold.

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

PDF Download


MARRIED MASSACHUSETTS LESBIAN COUPLE FIGHTING FOR GREEN CARD REACT TO COURT RULING FINDING DOMA UNCONSTITUTIONAL

COURT RULING STRENGTHENS THE CASE THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MUST START PROTECTING MARRIED SAME-SEX COUPLES FROM DEPORTATION, PUT GREEN CARD CASES ON HOLD

U.S. Senator John Kerry Has Called for DHS to Recognize and Respect Their Marriage

MAY 31, 2012 – In a historic ruling this morning, a three judge panel of the First Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously held that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal law that denies recognition to married same-sex couples, is unconstitutional and that “Congress’ denial of federal benefits to same-sex couples lawfully married in Massachusetts has not been adequately supported by any permissible interest.” This is the first federal appellate court to rule on the constitutionality of DOMA.

DOMA Project Couple React to First Circuit DOMA Ruling

Oral arguments in the DOMA case were held in Boston on April 4 at the First Circuit Court of Appeals. Jackie and Gloria, a participant couple in the Stop the Deportations – The DOMA Project’s campaign, attended to witness the historic arguments. On that day they knew that this case, which will eventually be decided by the Supreme Court, will determine whether they will have a future together as a married couple.

Jackie and Gloria are legally married and live in Massachusetts. Jackie, a U.S. citizen, petitioned for a green card for Gloria, her Pakistani-born wife. (Read more about Jackie and Gloria’s green card case.) Because of DOMA, the federal government has denied immigration benefits to all married same-sex couples. Stop the Deportations – The DOMA Project has pushed for changes in the policies of federal agencies that would protect and reunite loving and committed same-sex couples who face deportations, separation from the U.S., and exile to another country because their marriages are not recognized by federal law.

Upon hearing that the First Circuit struck down DOMA, Jackie and Gloria could not have been more excited for the good news. “It’s great news, I’m really happy. It sends the message that the time has come to recognize the harm caused to married couples like us because the federal government refuses to recognize our marriage,” shared Gloria by phone.

Jackie could not believe the news; “I have no words. It is something that I’ve wanted to hear. I’m speechless. I hope that this helps change how President Obama treats Gloria and me. I hope this is finally enough progress for the administration to put our green card case on hold until DOMA has been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.”

U.S. Senator John Kerry Calls for Change

Jackie & Gloria in Senator Kerry's office

Jackie and Gloria are not alone in hoping that the Obama administration will change their policies regarding legally married same-sex couples. In March of this year, United States Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts wrote to Secretary Janet Napolitano of the Department of Homeland Security on Jackie and Gloria’s behalf: “I know that you and I both believe that every family is worthy of recognition and respect, and that no family should be torn apart based on a discriminatory law. Therefore, I ask USCIS to consider holding [Jackie’s] petition [for Gloria] in abeyance pending resolution of DOMA’s constitutionality in the courts. Abeyance will allow this remarkable young married couple to move forward with their dream of building a life together at home in Massachusetts.”

Last month, Sen. Kerry and 16 other Senate colleagues called on the Obama administration to change their policies to protect same-sex couples who are impacted by DOMA and U.S. immigration law. “With marriage equality rights being extended to more and more citizens of this country, and with the Department of Justice’s repudiation of DOMA, we are concerned with the toll the continued denial of I-130 applications for same-sex immigrant spouses is exacting on families in this country.”

Statement by attorney Lavi Soloway

“In the past two years, three federal courts have ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. Each court has found in favor of extending the promise of equal protection of the law to married gay and lesbian couples. Today, for the first time, a federal appeals court has struck down DOMA, setting up an inevitable appeal to the Supreme Court. However, until DOMA has been struck down by the Supreme Court or repealed by Congress, married couples like Jackie and Gloria remain unsafe, unprotected, and unable to plan a future because of the constant pressure of uncertain legal status and the possibility that they will be torn apart by deportation.

The Obama administration should act now to protect all married gay and lesbian binational couples like Jackie and Gloria, by holding all green card cases filed by same-sex couples in abeyance and instituting a moratorium on deportations. The Obama administration believes DOMA is unconstitutional and won a victory today for its arguments before the First Circuit Court of Appeals. At this historic juncture, the administration should institute policies that immediately mitigate the discriminatory and harmful impact of DOMA.”


Jackie and Gloria are available for interviews.

For more information contact Lavi Soloway, attorney for Jackie and Gloria, founder of Stop The Deportations – The DOMA Project.


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

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


Boston Globe Editorial Features Senator’s Kerry Advocacy for Jackie & Gloria, Who Seek Abeyance for Green Card Petition

 

Today’s Boston Globe editorial reported on the denials of green card petitions for same-sex binational spouses under the Defense of Marriage Act and called for equal treatment of same-sex spouses for the purposes of immigration. The editorial told the story of Jackie and Gloria, a married binational couple from Massachusetts who are one of the many couples participating in The DOMA Project.  On April 4, Jackie and Gloria, accompanied by The DOMA Project’s co-founder Lavi Soloway, met with senior staff at Senator Kerry’s office to discuss the details of a letter that would urge DHS Secretary Napolitano to hold their green card petition in abeyance.

Jackie and Gloria met when they were college students after Gloria came to the United States from Pakistan on a student visa. A happily married couple in their twenties living in Massachusetts, they are struggling to build their lives together as they face an uncertain future under the Defense of Marriage Act. Faced with the prospect of seeing her wife deported to Pakistan, Jackie filed a marriage-based green card petition for Gloria earlier this year and sought support of their elected representatives to urge the Obama administration not to deny their petition.

Earlier this month, Senator John Kerry  and 16 other U.S. Senators called on Obama administration to request that all marriage-based green card petitions filed by lesbian and gay couples be held in abeyance.

Today, the Boston Globe became the latest major newspaper to call for an end to “DOMA deportations” that threaten to tear apart loving couples like Gloria and Jackie.

Senator Kerry Calls on Obama Administration Not to Deny Green Card Petition Filed by Jackie & Gloria, Seeks to Prevent Deportation to Pakistan: VIDEO

Last November, Jackie and Gloria shared their story with The DOMA Project.  Jackie and Gloria met when they were college students, after Gloria came to the United States from Pakistan on a student visa. Now a happily married couple in their twenties living in Massachusetts, the two women are struggling to build their lives together facing an uncertain future because of the DOMA.

Since last year, even after announcing its position that DOMA was unconstitutional, the Obama administration has steadfastly refused to protect married binational same-sex couples. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services continues to deny marriage-based petitions filed by gay and lesbian Americans for their spouses, rejecting calls from advocates and elected officials to hold final decisions on those cases in “abeyance,” which would allow married binational gay and lesbian couples to be remain together in the United States without forcing the foreign spouse to lapse into unlawful status. Jackie and Gloria have bravely stood up to defend the rights of lesbian and gay Americans to sponsor their foriegn spouses for green cards and to build futures together without fear of being torn aapart.

In March, Jackie filed a marriage-based green card petition for her foreign-born spouse, Gloria, and joined an advocacy campaigned aimed at persuading the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services to delay making a final decision on their petition until DOMA has been struck down by the courts, so that Gloria can stay in the United States, obtain employment authorization, and eventually, a green card.

They also reached out to their elected officials and to the media to share their experience and highlight the impact of DOMA on married lesbian and gay binational couples.  U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-Mass) wrote to Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on the behalf of Jackie and Gloria, raising the issues they face because DOMA prevents recognition of their marriage, and asking the Secretary to direct USCIS to hold their petition in abeyance.

Gloria and Jackie have recently spoken with local news and press in the area as well.  A local newspaper first ran a news story on Jackie and Gloria.  Both CBS and ABC, local affiliate stations in Boston, Massachusetts have interviewed the couple and reported on their fight to stay together in this country.

Watch Gloria & Jackie interviewed on CBS news

Watch Jackie and Gloria interviewed by ABC news

Jackie and Gloria: Married Lesbian Couple in Massachusetts Fights Deportation to Pakistan That Would Tear Them Apart

Gloria and I met at college three years ago when we were assigned as roommates. She was an international student from Pakistan and I was born and raised in Massachusetts. Despite our cultural differences we had an instant connection since the first day. For the first few months we explored Boston together and our friendship grew stronger and deeper until we became inseparable. Some of our friends even called us “the conjoined twins” because we were rarely seen apart. We began to realize that our relationship was different than the friendship of our fellow roommates at the college. We were falling deeply in love.

As summer approached, I worried about not seeing Gloria till the fall. Then she dropped a bombshell on me, “I might not be coming back to school.” I was in shock. I was very upset. I asked Gloria why was she going to move and where was she going to go. She explained that she was having some financial problems and that she was going to go live with her parents who had moved from Pakistan to Texas. Gloria was on a foreign student visa, and a move to Texas meant that she either had to change schools or leave the United States. After we talked, we went for a walk on the beach that was near our campus and talked about how much we would miss each other. We could not imagine waking up and not seeing each other’s face first thing in the morning. Late that night, both of us pretty sleepless, Gloria proposed a solution. “Let’s suppose I ask my parents if it would be okay if you moved in with me to their house, would you move?” In an instant, without any hesitation, I answered “Yes, of course.” I had never been to Texas before but all of a sudden it did not matter, all that mattered at that time was to be with each other.

I didn’t know what to expect living with Gloria’s parents; I just wanted to be with Gloria. Whatever compromises we had to make to be together were well worth that goal. In August 2009 I moved to Texas and lived with Gloria and her parents. Over the course of the next year we realized that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. Gloria’s parents were kind to me, but we played a kind of “don’t ask, don’t tell” game in order not to offend their sensibilities. It was not the greatest arrangement but we were together for that year and managed to keep Gloria in legal status while we figured out how to stay together.

We wanted to have our own home and eventually get married. Since we could not get married in Texas, we decided to move back to Massachusetts and make a home of our own together. By then we were sharing everything including our finances. Our lives were fully integrated.

We married in Massachusetts on October 23, 2011. It was the happiest day of my life.

We recently received a letter from Gloria’s school that her student visa status will soon expire if she does not again enroll in class. At this point we cannot afford Gloria’s international student tuition fees which are almost two times more expensive than in-state tuition. With the expiration of Gloria’s student status we know that she is deportable to Pakistan. Even though she is a law-abiding person, and despite the love and commitment that we share, there is no way for me to sponsor her.
As an American I find it very unfair that my spouse could be taken away from me just on the basis of our gender and sexual orientation. If Gloria had fallen in love with an American man and married, there would be no problem with the immigration. As a married couple they would be protected, and allowed to build a future together.

When I was a young girl I was taught that laws of my country are there to protect us and to make sure we are all treated equally. I do not see how the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is protecting anyone. Instead, I feel that DOMA is a way for my government to punish me for falling in love with a Pakistani woman.

As a citizen of United States of America I am witnessing a tremendous, harrowing injustice being done to my family. Gloria and I are ready to join the fight for full equality and end this injustice. We cannot imagine standing by silently. There is no way we can live in Pakistan. An lesbian Pakistani woman is already at great risk, but a lesbian binational couple? Half of which consists of an American lesbian? It is ridiculous. Every freedom we take for granted in this country is implicated here. We have no other country where we can go, nor should I as an American even be thinking about exile. Our lives are here.

We cannot allow the random fact of our differing citizenships and our same gender be a reason for the American government to destroy what is most precious to us, our love for each other. We hope those reading this will help join this campaign to end this humanitarian crisis. We may be young, but we have great hope and optimism for the future. We know that we will not achieve full equality without fighting for it, and so we ask you to join with us and demand that the Obama administration protect all lesbian and gay binational couples, ensure that none of us are torn apart or forced into exile.

© 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.