THE DOMA PROJECT
WHAT ARE WE FIGHTING FOR?
THE DOMA PROJECT is a campaign launched in October 2010 by a group of married binational couples working with attorneys Lavi Soloway and Noemi Masliah, who are founders of Immigration Equality and partners in the law firm, Masliah & Soloway. The campaign’s purpose is to raise awareness of the cruel impact of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on married gay and lesbian bi-national couples and to bring an end to that discrimination. Because the federal government denies recognition to legally married same-sex couples, such couples are deprived of the usual access to immigration laws that allow all other American citizens to petition for a green card for their foreign spouses. In most cases, DOMA is the only obstacle preventing married binational couples from achieving resolution of the immigration issue.
DOMA causes married binational couples to face the real threat of being torn apart because of expiring visas or deportation. Countless binational couples are forced into exile to live in other countries where their relationships are recognized under the law. Nevertheless, others are kept apart, left to maintain a long-distance relationships, staying in touch by phone, expensive travel and all-too-brief visits.
Recent words of government leaders such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton and United States Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano suggest such deportations may take place less in the future, but because stopping deportations is subject to discretion on a case-by-case basis we continue to fight for a moratorium. We are also pressing the government to accept the filing of “green card” applications by lesbian and gay American citizens for their foreign spouses and, rather than denying those cases, hold them in abeyance until the fate of DOMA has been resolved by Congress or the Supreme Court of the United States.
Every day in this country there are gay and lesbian Americans whose spouses face deportation proceedings. This is completely preventable by an exercise of executive branch authority through the immediate institution of a moratorium on “DOMA deportations.” Separated couples and exiled couples should be re-united immediately in this country by a grant of blanket humanitarian parole. We are fighting to keep all binational couples together, to allow lesbian and gay couple access to fiancé visas so that they can re-united and marry in this country. We cannot sit by while the government destroys the hopes and dreams of loving couples. Please join our fight against DOMA and help bring an end to discrimination against same-sex binational couples.
Noemi Masliah & Lavi Soloway
Born in Havana, Cuba, Noemi Masliah immigrated with her family to the United States as a child and grew up in NYC. She attended Queens College and Yeshiva Univ. Cardozo Law School. Ms. Masliah has practiced immigration law since 1980 and has worked extensively in all aspects of immigration law becoming a recognized expert in the field with frequent speaking engagements, written articles, interviews and panel discussions at legal conferences and law schools.
Born in Toronto, Canada, Lavi Soloway is a graduate of the Univ. of Toronto and Yeshiva Univ. Cardozo Law School. He joined Noemi Masliah in the practice of immigration law in 1994. Mr. Soloway is a frequent lecturer and panelist at legal conferences and law schools on subjects ranging from basic immigration law to asylum. Mr. Soloway has been invited to provide training at Dept. of Homeland Security Asylum Offices and has rendered assistance and leadership and guidance to other attorneys in the provision of pro-bono legal services to indigent asylum seekers.
The law firm, Masliah & Soloway, created this pro bono project to refocus the crisis of binational couples on DOMA and to help direct free legal services in a strategic partnership with non-profit organizations around the country to achieve full equality for LGBT families under U.S. immigration law.
Derek Tripp is a graduate and LGBT Rights Fellow of Hofstra University School of Law, receiving his J.D. in 2011. Born and raised in northern California, he has been passionate about LGBT rights all his life, interning with the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce as an undergrad at UC Davis, with Global Rights LGBTI Initiative as a legal intern, and as a student attorney in the Hofstra Law Political Asylum Clinic working with LGBT refugees.
He started his work with The DOMA Project as a legal intern in the Spring of 2011, and began working as the campaign’s Project Associate later that Fall. Derek has passed the February bar in New York, and is looking forward to advocating for the rights of all same-sex couples.
Sveta Apodaca holds two Master’s degrees in Computer Science and in Instructional Design and Technology from Western Illinois University. She is the immigrant half of a binational couple directly affected by the Defense of Marriage Act.
Inspired by dedication, vision, and courage of the DOMA Project’s founders, contributors, and participants, Sveta began volunteering shortly after she and her wife Andi achieved victory in court in summer with the assistance of Lavi Soloway and The DOMA Project. She is currently lending her skills to help create and maintain this website.
Brad Mattan is a research psychologist with an M.A. in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. While serving in the U.S. Peace Corps in Ecuador, he met the love of his life, Raúl. Brad and Raúl celebrated their civil partnership in Ecuador in December, 2011.
With the help of The DOMA Project, Brad and Raúl were able to secure a visitor’s visa for a short visit to the U.S. in 2012. Motivated to bring the voices of binational couples to the spotlight, Brad began volunteering as a writer and editor for the blog posts and stories published on our website. Brad now lives with Raúl in the UK, where he is pursuing his PhD at the University of Birmingham.