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

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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

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

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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.