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."
- CEO Of Apple Tim Cook: 'I'm Proud To Be Gay'
- Guide To Elections Across the U.S.
- 5th Circuit Court Sets Date To Hear SSM Cases
- Federal Gov. To Recognize Same-Sex Married Couples In Six More States
- Hook-Up Related Homicide In Pennsylvania
- Bishops Scrap Welcome To Gays In Sign Of Split
- Federal Judge Strikes Down Arizona Same-Sex Marriage Ban
- October Surprise At The Supreme Court
- Alaska Will Issue Marriage Licenses To Gay Couples
- Oklahoma Gay Couples Can Now File For Benefits
- National Coming Out Day 2014
- Supreme Court Denies Seven Appeals In Five States
- New York Soon To Change Gender Options On Birth Certificates
- Supreme Court Rejects Five Gay Marriage Appeals
- 9th Circuit Strikes Bans Adds Five More States
- Revisiting Annual Reminders, Nearly 50 Years Later
- The Financial Penalty Of Being LGBT In America
- Freedom To Marry Launches National TV AD
- Two LGBTQ Trailblazers Receive MacArthur Fellowships Totaling $1.25 Million
- Adoption Services
- Hands Across The Water
- Good Cakes and Bakes
- Vassel's Banquets & Catering
- Families and Parents
- Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG) National Office
- Grand Rapids Alternative Families
- Heating & Cooling
- Diversified Heating & Cooling, Inc.
- National Organizations
- Equality Forum
- Pet Supplies
- The Splendid Dog
- The Print Stop
- Renewable energy
- AJ Leo Electric & Solar
Enter contests to win great prizes like CDs, DVDs, concert tickets and more
- Q&A: Annie Lennox On Her Legacy, Why Beyonce Is 'Feminist Lite'
- Q&A: Getting To The Core Of Nick Jonas: Abs, Album & That Gay Striptease 'They Made Me Do'
- Q&A: Lisa Kudrow On Judging 'Drag Race' (As Valerie Cherish!) & Gays Being Biologically 'Superhuman'
- GOP Hopeful Wants 'Christians' Fleeing MI If Gays Get Civil Rights
- Creep of the Week: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder
Sign up to receive our weekly newsletters today!
MICHIGAN - A recent study by Affirmations Community Center and the Kalamazoo Gay and Lesbian Resource Center, funded by the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), facilitated eight focus groups with LGBT-identified individuals that helps shed light on tobacco use within the LGBT community.View More Health and Wellness
This Week's Issue
Download or view this week's print issue today!
Sign up to receive our weekly newsletters today!