The DOMA Decision and Immigration

Jun 27, 2013

Yesterday’s landmark Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act will allow same-sex couples to access hundreds of federal benefits.  One of those benefits will be to allow a U.S. citizen to help a fiancé or spouse get a green card.

Russ Hanoman is a systems engineer in Stamford. His finance lives in the Netherlands..

"I always had DOMA in the back of mind as an impediment to how this was eventually going to turn out."

Under DOMA, the federal government was prohibited from recognizing same sex marriages. That meant Hanoman could not help his fiance gain permanent residence in the US. He says he closely followed the Supreme Court case.

"I had butterflies all morning. I saw the news when it came up and I was just blown away. What this has done for me personally is I know that he and I have a future together."

Ray Acunto and his Italian-born spouse Massimo Nittardi live with their two adopted children in Southbury.

"This week we’re going to file a green card application for Massimo. I’ve waited sixteen years for the ability to do that ..and its going to get accepted. I can’t believe that I’m actually saying this."

Danbury immigration attorney Cynthia Exner says she expects the decision to significantly impact some of her clients.

"I have not read the whole 77 page decision yet, but in 15 pages, they’ve already talked about immigration twice. So I’m really surprised about how far-reaching it is."

The ruling already changed the outcome in an immigration case yesterday in New York City.  A judge halted the deportation of a gay man from Colombia, who is legally married to a US citizen.

For WNPR, I’m Diane Orson.