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.

Recent image of Anthony Sullivan holding the original INS denial letter from November 24, 1975, and original marriage certificate from April 21, 1975 (Photo Credit: Erin Taylor)

Recent image of Anthony Sullivan holding the original INS denial letter from November 24, 1975, and original marriage certificate from April 21, 1975 (Photo Credit: Erin Taylor)

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.

Original INS denial letter issued to Richard Adams

Original INS denial letter issued to Richard Adams

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.

Richard Adams and Anthony Sullivan in 1975 (Photo Credit: Pat Rocco)

Richard Adams and Anthony Sullivan in 1975 (Photo Credit: Pat Rocco)

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.

Original marriage license issued to Richard Adams and Antony Sullivan

Marriage License and Marriage Certificate confirming the lawful marriage of Richard Adams and Anthony Sullivan as issued and registered by Boulder County, Colorado on April 21, 1975. Note: this certified copy was obtained from the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder on April 8, 2014.


Listen to QP Exclusive: Interview with Anthony Sullivan, Equal Rights Pioneer


View a list of archival documents for press

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

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Josh and Henry photographed in May in New Jersey’s Liberty State Park (Jonathan Ystad/GetEqual)

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.”

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

Lesbian Couple in San Jose, CA Receives The Third Marriage-Based Green Card After Supreme Court Strikes Down DOMA

USCIS Issues Green Card to U.K. Spouse of Award-Winning Activist and U.S. Citizen

On July 15, 2013, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a green card to U.K. citizen, Karin Bogliolo, 72, based on her marriage to U.S. citizen Judy Rickard, 65, making Karin the third gay immigrant in U.S. history to become a lawful permanent resident on the basis of a same-sex marriage.

Judy and Karin

Judy Rickard and Karin Bogliolo

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

“The issuance of this green card to Karin Bogliolo is the culmination of a two-decade grassroots movement in which lesbian and gay Americans fought for the right to sponsor the person that they love for permanent resident status in the United States.

Lesbian and gay binational couples and their families celebrated the Fourth of July this year with the Supreme Court decision in US v. Windsor fresh in their minds: having achieved freedom from a cruel law that has torn apart loving, committed couples, forced lesbian and gay Americans into exile to be with the person they love and has resulted in the unconscionable deportation of partners and spouses of lesbian and gay Americans. The long nightmare is over.

In striking down DOMA, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy held that, ‘[DOMA] tells those couples, and all the world, that their otherwise valid marriages are unworthy of federal recognition. This places same-sex couples in an unstable position of being in a second-tier marriage… And it humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples. The law in question makes it even more difficult for the children to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.’

By issuing a green card to Karin on the basis of her marriage to Judy, the U.S. government is finally recognizing the inherent dignity of this family, and giving tangible meaning to Justice Kennedy’s ruling.”

Judy Rickard and Karin Bogliolo joined The DOMA Project and filed a green card petition based on their marriage in January 2012 to bring an end to their separation. Because the Federal Government previously refused to recognize their marriage, Judy was forced to take an early retirement and spend six months of each year outside the U.S. to be with Karin, due to the limitations of Karin’s tourist visa.

Judy and Karin met online in a lesbian chat room nearly a decade ago. It was their first face-to-face date to a PFLAG dance that sealed the deal. On Valentine’s Day in 2007 they became domestic partners, and in April, 2011 they married in Vermont before a justice of the peace.

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Judy and Karin celebrating their marriage with wedding cake in Vermont, April 6, 2011

Judy recalls their celebration in Vermont writing on The DOMA Project website:

“All we could think of then was to get married soon – after being told for years that getting married would cause problems for Karin every time she returned from the United Kingdom on a visitor visa… For me, what matters is Karin. I know she thinks I am what matters. It’s not even about our rings, the paper, the ceremony. We have lived it for years and we know it just by looking in each others’ eyes… Of course Karin and I have considered ourselves ‘married’ all the time we have been together, even before the ceremony and formal paperwork. We were married in our hearts when we had to be separated for months at a time while she dutifully obeyed the rules imposed on temporary visitors and returned to England after visiting me in California.”

Judy and Karin describe their experience as “love exiles.” They were not considered married in the eyes of U.S. government and were not permitted to live together as a family in the U.S.

“We didn’t have the kind of marriage that would satisfy Uncle Sam and so we had to follow those general guidelines for visitors. We were driven out of the U.S. for six months at a time, unable to return until we were sure Karin would be permitted to visit again. We could not live like this any more. In retirement, we yearn for tranquility and stability. We want to be left alone to enjoy our golden years together and take care of each other.”

Judy and Karin May 14 2011

Judy Rickard and Karin Bogliolo at the Torn Apart book launch party in Hollywood, May, 2011

The Vermont ceremony was a deciding moment for Judy and Karin, as they filed for a green card based on their marriage and stood up for every binational same-sex couple demanding equality under the law.

Judy is the author of Torn Apart: United by Love, Divided by Law (Findhorn Press, 2011), a collection of stories about the experiences of binational same-sex couples under DOMA. Inspired by her work on the book and her own personal experience, she and Karin joined The DOMA Project. Through the extraordinary power of sharing personal stories of lesbian and gay couples and their families, Judy and Karin embodied the injustices of DOMA in our national dialogue on marriage equality and gave a voice to the need for social justice.

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Challenging DOMA: Judy and Karin attended a green card interview in September 2012

For years, Judy and Karin told their story to anyone who would listen: from grocery store clerks and neighbors to their elected officials. This video of Judy and Karin is part of the series of short films called ‘Love Stories: Binational Couples on the Front Lines Against DOMA,’ produced by Brynn Gelbard and The DeVote Campaign in collaboration with The DOMA Project.

For her efforts as an immigration reformer, Judy Rickard was honored as a Cesar Chavez Champion of Change by the White House in March this year on the same day that the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Marriage Equality cases. Judy and Karin have fought tirelessly for the simple right to grow old together as a married couple. Karin says it best in the closing frames of the “Love Stories” video of them:

“I want to be with my partner: do the cooking, see friends, and I would love that for all the couples like us. All they want is just to live a life, a happy family life, people who have children, people who’ve been together maybe twenty-thirty years. We don’t want anything more, or special. Just, you know, what everybody else has.”

Judy and Karin attended a “green card” interview with USCIS on September 7, 2012. The interviewing officer put the case on hold at the request of the couple’s attorney, DOMA Project co-founder, Lavi Soloway, rather than issuing a denial.  To their credit, USCIS San Jose Field Office conducted a full and thorough “green card” interview of Judy and Karin, and treated them like all other couples.  Then, they held the file for ten months, defying specific guidance from the Obama administration that green card petitions filed by same-sex couples must be denied on the basis of DOMA in the normal order of business.

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Karin Bogliolo and Judy Rickard featured in short film, “Love Stories”

Speaking from their home in San Jose, California, Judy and Karin reacted to the joyful news of their victory, as they learned that the green card they had long fought for was finally granted. Karin, speaking through happy tears, said:

“At last, after so many years of struggle, huge expense, fear, and separation I can at last believe I am home. I have a home. I can believe I have a home. I am no longer afraid of being separated from the person I love most. At last I feel we can grow old together.”

Next on her agenda? A visit with her wife to their family in Europe that they haven’t been able to visit for nearly three years.

“We feel vindicated!” Judy smiled.

“With DOMA defeated and this green card issued, we can celebrate that we are now, finally, being treated as equal under the law.  As of today, I can proudly say that my government recognizes our marriage is as valid as any other marriage.  Our love has triumphed over hatred and bigotry.  It’s been a long, hard fight to be together and stay together legally and safely. This fight is for us and every LGBT family torn apart, pushed into exile or living in fear of separation.  With DOMA gone, we need to get back to work with our allies in other communities to create a fair and humane immigration system that protects all families.  Thanks to all who have helped us win our battle.”

Judy and Karin will remain active in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform to ensure that policies are in place to protect all families.

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Judy and Karin in front of the White House after Judy spoke on a panel and met with President Obama in the Oval Office as a Cesar Chavez Champion of Change for Immigration Reform, March 26, 2013

Just last month, on June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law that prohibited the federal government from recognizing marriages of same-sex couples for all purposes including immigration benefits, as a violation of the equal protection guarantee of the U.S. Constitution.

Judy and Karin follow in the footsteps of several DOMA Project couples, in Florida and Colorado, in Los Angeles and Toronto. Just two days after the Supreme Court decision that struck down DOMA, the first “stand alone” green-card petition was approved on June 28, 2013, for another gay couple working with The DOMA Project: Julian Marsh and Traian Popov of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Five days after the Supreme Court decision, Cathy Davis was granted a green card, becoming the first immigrant to become a permanent resident through her same-sex marriage to Catriona Dowling of Colorado. A second “stand alone” green card petition was also approved for Tom Smeraldo, a gay American living in forced exile in Canada with his Venezuelan husband, Emilio Ojeda. They left the U.S. six years ago to avoid the deportation of Ojeda to Venezuela. Additionally, the second green card was granted on July 12 to Shaun Stent, based on his marriage to John Catuara, residing in Los Angeles.

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Judy and Karin in front of the Supreme Court during the oral arguments in Windsor v. U.S., March 27, 2013

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

From Lavi Soloway:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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Writing for the Court, Justice Kennedy stated unequivocally that,

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

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

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

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

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

The following couples are available for interviews and press:

Brian & Alfonso

San Francisco / Bay Area, CA

Donna & Dana

Los Angeles, CA

Shaun & John

Los Angeles, CA

Judy & Karin

San Jose, CA

Catriona & Cathy and their 3 children

Boulder, CO

Paul & Michael

Snowmass Village, CO

Daniel & Yohandel

Miami, FL

Brad & Raul

Exiled to Birmingham, England

From: Chicago and Geneseo, IL

Andi & Sveta

Macomb, IL

Lujza & Joy

Lexington, KY

Caroline & Laurie

Somerset, MA

Anton & Marco

Separated:

Anton: Madison Heights, MI

Marco: Italy

Brad & Christian

Separated:

Brad:  Kalamazoo, MI

Christian:  Uruguay

Becky & Sanne and their daughter

Asheville, NC

Ed & Tim

Separated:

Ed: Durham, NC

Tim: Cairo, Egypt

Margie & Janice

Waxhaw, NC

Ben & Dario

Elizabeth, NJ

Jennifer & Rachel

Secaucus, NJ

Enzo & Juan

New York City, NY

Luke & Brandon

New York City, NY

Glen & Tom

New York City, NY

James & Daniel

New York City, NY

Eric & Reinaldo

New York City, NY

Jesse & Maximiliano

Exiled to London, England

From: New York City, NY

Tom & Emilio

Exiled to Ontario, Canada

From: New York City, NY

Frédéric & Mark and their 4 children

Harrisburg, PA

Brian & Anton

Philadelphia, PA

Jon & Sergio

Providence, RI

Sarah & Emma and their baby son

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

From: Tiverton, RI

Andy & Achim

Exiled to Germany

From: Nashville, TN

Jennifer & Elizabeth

Houston, TX

Steven & Ricardo and their baby son

Tukwila, WA

For more information about any couple listed above or our campaign, and to schedule an interview, please contact Project Associate Derek Tripp or Lavi Soloway, attorney and co-founder of The DOMA Project.


Lavi Soloway, Attorney and Co-Founder - Phone: 323-599-6915  

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

 

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

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

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

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

andresenzo

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

(VIDEO) Love Makes a Family: For Cathy, Catriona and Their Three Children in Boulder, Colorado Everything is at Stake in the Imminent Supreme Court Ruling

Cathy and Catriona may be the first married, same-sex couple in the United States to receive a green card, after they completed their interview at the Denver, Colorado USCIS office and cleared all eligibility hurdles except for DOMA. Their case has not been denied, and The DOMA Project co-founder, their attorney, Lavi Soloway, says they may be the first couple to have their green card case approved the day the Supreme Court strikes down DOMA.

Love Stories: Binational Couples on the Front Lines Against DOMA,’ produced by Lavi Soloway and Brynn Gelbard for The DOMA Project and The DeVote Campaign is a series of short films. The series feature LGBT families from across America who are asserting their equality by petitioning for green cards based on their marriages and demanding that the U.S. government treat them no differently than opposite sex couples under federal law. They are opening up about their personal struggles under the Defense of Marriage Act to shine a spotlight on this prejudicial law and end it, all the while ensuring their experiences are properly archived as history that should be learned from and never repeated.

CC KIDS3

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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.