Frances Herbert, right, and her wife, Takako Ueda, at their home in Dummerston. Dummeerston's Select Board is urging federal immigration authorities to allow Ueda to remain in town without a spousal green card. AP photo: Matthew Cavanaugh
Vt. Gay Couples In Legal Clear After DOMA Ruling
By Dave Gram
Originally printed 9/12/2013 (Issue 2137 - Between The Lines News)
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Two same-sex married couples in Vermont are celebrating their new immigration status after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for the foreign-born spouse in each to gain legal residency in the country.
"It is so amazing the position we are in today," said Peru-born Christian Pinillos, who got his green card from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services this past week. "Sometimes I feel like we're living in a dream. We've been waiting so long for this. It's been eight years we've been together."
Pinillos and his spouse, Jason Kirchick, of Stowe, and Japan-born Takako Ueda and Frances Herbert, of Dummerston, were interviewed in August at the St. Albans office of CIS, and both couples were given strong indications they would be approved to live in the United States as binational married couples.
The decisions came about two months after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the section of the Defense of Marriage Act that denied federal benefits to same-sex spouses.
The worries of Pinillos and Kirchick, both 32, were heightened this past winter when the ski lodge where they worked ran into financial trouble and it appeared both would lose their jobs. Pinillos was in the U.S. on a work visa and feared that a job loss would cause him to lose his legal status and that federal authorities would demand he leave the country.
Ueda did get such a demand in December 2011, a few months after the student visa she had been relying on expired. She later got a deferral of deportation but remained in legal limbo until the federal court decision.
Also hailing the development were Vermont's U.S. senators and lone congressman.
Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy was in the forefront of the fight, introducing his Uniting American Families Act to change federal policy on same-sex binational couples every year since 2003. Those efforts always were unsuccessful, including earlier this year, when he tried to include his legislation in a comprehensive immigration reform bill as it moved through the Senate. Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, withdrew the measure in frustration after he failed to garner support for it from his fellow majority Democrats.
Weeks later, the Supreme Court decision made the change Leahy and the Vermont couples had sought.
Leahy called the news that Ueda and Pinillos had been given the green light to remain in the country "a joyful and long-awaited moment for these couples."
In a statement issued by his office, he said, "I know from years of working with them about the hardship and worry that has been part of their everyday lives. I share the great happiness they feel today."
He added that many of the estimated 36,000 binational same-sex couples living in the U.S. had long been forced "to choose between the country they love and being with the one they love. This destructive policy was tearing families apart and forcing couples to make the heart-wrenching choice no American should have to make."
Officials with CIS said they couldn't say how many same-sex binational couples had received green cards since the June decision since the form couples fill out to sponsor their spouses makes no such designation.
Talking on speakerphone from their home, Ueda, 58, and Herbert, 52, said a huge burden was lifted from their shoulders when they got the call Tuesday that a green card was in the mail. Ever since Ueda's visa expired, they had feared she could be arrested and deported.
Now, "Takako doesn't have to have a heart attack every time she sees the police," Herbert said with a laugh.
Ueda added, "To release that kind of energy is a tremendous - ah! - relief."
- Study: Only 16 Percent Of Men Who Have Sex With Men Report Using Condoms 'Always'
- New Data Shows U.S. Benefiting From Same-Sex Marriage
- NYC Approves Ordinance On Trans Birth Certificates
- LGBT Baby Boomers Face Tough Retirement Hurdles
- In Wake Of Murder, International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
- Financial Tips For Same-Sex Couples
- Group: Army To Recognize Transgender Vets' Names
- New Non-Discrimination Rule Implemented Federally
- Attorney: Same-Sex Marriages Should Start Soon In Miss.
- Will U.S. Supreme Court Resolve Marriage Debate?
- Mississippi Judge Overturns Same-Sex Marriage Ban
- Study Suggests Genetic Link For Male Homosexuality
- Shelter in Kansas City Won't House Gay Couples
- Gay Marriage Issue Now Linked To Ohio Senator
- Another Top Ohio Republican Speaks On Gay Marriage
- Pope Reinforces Traditional Family Values
- Election 2014: LGBT Candidates Make Some History Across U.S.
- Republican Sweep Captures Senate And Some Pro-Gay Governors
- LGBT Veterans Still Denied Equal Federal Benefits
- GLSEN Releases New National School Climate Survey On America's Middle And High Schools
- Avalon International Breads
- Campus; Student and Alumni Groups
- GLOBE (Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual Equity)
- Stephanie Williams, Ph.D.
- Univ. of Michigan HIV/AIDS Treatment Program
- Water Work Plumbing
- Professional Organizations
- GM PLUS - General Motors LGBT Employee Resource Group
- Religious & Spiritual
- Unity Chapel
- That All May Freely Serve - Michigan
- Renewable energy
- AJ Leo Electric & Solar
- Detroit Repertory Theatre
Enter contests to win great prizes like CDs, DVDs, concert tickets and more
- Exclusive! 'Looking' Star Russell Tovey On Sex Scenes, His Famous Butt & That Rimming Cake
- ALERT Missing Person In Metro Detroit
- Q&A: Andy Cohen On His (Almost) Tell-All Book, 'Nasty' Names Gays Call Him
- Divine Intervention: Bette Midler Talks Early Gay Support, 'Diva' Degradation & Twerking ('Girls, Please!')
- Creep of the Week: The Duggars
Sign up to receive our weekly newsletters today!
A study published in the journal The Lancet HIV reports that there is a significant disparity in HIV prevalence between black and white men who have sex with men. The study was published on Nov. 18 and found a startling 32 percent prevalence rate for black men who have sex with men, compared with only eight percent for white men who have sex with men.View More World AIDS Day
This Week's Issue
Download or view this week's print issue today!
Sign up to receive our weekly newsletters today!