Check Out the First Binational Lesbian Couple In America To Be Granted Green Card Approval

One of the biggest problems of DOMA was the inability for same-sex couples to sponsor one another for immigration purposes. It was so problematic that we even celebrated the small victory of being “low-priority” for deportation. Thankfully, with the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down DOMA, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has stated that effective immediately, same-sex couples are able to sponsor one another and apply for green cards.

Catriona Dowling and Cathy Davis of Boulder, Colorado have become the first same-sex couple to be granted a green card. The couple met while climbing the Himalayas, were legally married in Iowa last year and have three children together. Davis is from Dublin, Ireland, and due to DOMA, has been on a work visa to live in Boulder with her family.

With the end date of Davis’ visa near, the Dowling-Davis family was getting ready to move internationally to stay together. The day Napolitano released the statement, Dowling and Davis printed it out from their home computer and went to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Office to apply for Davis’ green card.

“They were extremely nice about it,” Dowling said. “And we were so excited… We have been in a constant state of instability,” Dowling said. A week after applying, they learned their application had been approved.

“The Department of Homeland Security is prepared to recognize the legally valid marriages of lesbian and gay couples even when they live in states that do not,” said Lawyer Lavi Soloway, co-founder of the DOMA Project, a legal initiative which has sought green card recognition in about 100 cases for same-sex couples. “By issuing a green card to Cathy Davis on the basis of her marriage to Catriona, the U.S. government is finally recognizing the inherent dignity of this family, and giving tangible meaning to Justice Kennedy’s ruling.”

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Hansen is the DIY & Food Editor of Autostraddle.com and likes to spend most days making and cooking and writing. She is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at Colorado State University in her free time.

Hansen has written 181 articles for us.

17 Comments

  1. Thumb up 4

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    Canadian questions here:
    Does a green card grant permanent residency? Or does it need to be renewed?
    Can I marry one of you fabulous American queers and retain dual citizenship?
    I just wonder these things for when A-Commune happens. Y’know?

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      The green card thing is a bit weird, and generally it lasts a few years. I know for a fiance based visa you would become a permanent resident, then apply four years later for citizenship. With regards to dual citizenship – that depends entirely on your birth country. For instance, the UK doesn’t care and doesn’t require you to relinquish citizenship, so you technically get dual-citizenship, whereas I know that the US does.

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          The US does, indeed, allow dual citizenship. My wife’s entire immediate family is dual US-Australian citizens (and I should get off my butt and do the same).

          It depends on if the country you want to obtain citizenship in will force you to formally renounce your existing citizenship.

          (This is regarding the US, obviously, but I think Canada has a similar policy. I know Australia does – Desiree’s father was Australian before he was American.)

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    I haven’t seen anything in regards to how this would affect trans* couples? Especially ones who are mid legal transition. Given that the foreign spouse doesn’t become a citizen off the bat for potentially a few years, would the US spouse changing their legal sex after the issuance of a green card void the marriage? A bit like how the UK makes trans* patients divorce their significant other, legally change sex, and then remarry/civil union.

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    I’ll be more impressed when one-half of the couple isn’t white, especially if that one-half is from a country whose emigrants get the side eye here in the States and have more hoops to jump through to prove their worth here.

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