Gay Immigration Rights Advocates Cheer DOMA Repeal

Mar Verdugo (r.) and Heather Morgan, who sued to end DOMA, celebrate the Supreme Court ruling (Photo via impactony.com).

Mar Verdugo (r.) and Heather Morgan, who sued to end DOMA, celebrate the Supreme Court ruling (Photo via impactony.com).

“On cloud nine” is the way Mar Verdugo, from Spain, and Heather Morgan, from the U.S., describe how they feel after the Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. The women filed a lawsuit last year alongside four other same-sex married couples.

Verdugo, who works for Impacto Magazine, explains that after the historic decision she is going through a roller coaster of emotions: “We are still in a bit of a shock, but we are very happy, on cloud nine,” she says calmly, but obviously moved. “This signifies a total change in our lives in the U.S.”

DOMA defined marriage exclusively as a union between a man and a woman.  This prevented homosexuals in the U.S. from sponsoring their foreign partners for permanent residency in the country, even if, like Verdugo and Morgan, the couple had legally married in one of the four states where same-sex marriage is legal. This was the case that five married couples, including U.S. residents and their foreign partners, brought to a New York court in April of last year to challenge DOMA.

In the end, it was the case of an elderly woman named Edith Windsor that brought the Supreme Court to change the law. Thanks to this decision, homosexual married couples will have the same benefits as heterosexuals at a federal level, both in fiscal and social terms, including immigration.

Thus, Verdugo will be able to apply for a residency permit through her marriage to a U.S. citizen. “We feel that a significant load has been taken off our shoulders. Now we can plan for the future; we do not have to worry about finding a way to be together in this country,” explains the Spaniard, who met her wife in Madrid fifteen years ago.

This new stability will allow Verdugo to become a U.S. permanent resident. Verdugo has been able to stay in the U.S. thanks to temporary work visas. Their new-found stability gives them “strength” and also “a green light” to start a family.

For now, however, the couple is focused on celebrating this “historic day,” of which they feel “proud to be a part.” Tonight they will enjoy dinner; on Saturday, they will host a party at home. And, on Sunday, in what they consider “a wonderful coincidence,” the couple will join the Immigration Equality organization’s float at the Gay Pride Parade in New York, which this year is bound to be merrier than ever.

“Last night we were incredibly nervous, and before going to bed we looked at each other thinking that we could wake up to either being on cloud nine or having to come up with new solutions to our situation,” says Morgan.

Indeed, the next morning, they ended up “on cloud nine” and celebrating “one of the best moments” of their lives.

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