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.”