First Binational Gay Couple Gets Green Card Following the Fall of DOMA

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 1 2013 11:53 AM

First Binational Gay Couple Awarded Post-DOMA Green Card

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Marchers at Pride celebrated a slew of recent gay rights victories over the weekend, including immigration equality for same-sex couples.

Photo by Sarah Rice/Getty Images

Although gay couples have been able to legally marry in parts of the United States since 2004, DOMA’s prohibition against federal recognition of same-sex unions has long prevented gay Americans from sponsoring their foreign spouse’s green card.

That changed yesterday. Following DOMA’s death, binational gay couples have begun receiving green cards, starting Sunday with Traian Popov, a Bulgarian immigrant who lives in Florida with his American husband, Julian Marsh. The couple was sent an email on Wednesday notifying them that Popov had received a permanent visa. The New York Times reports:

Mr. Popov, 41, said he had been living legally in the United States for 15 years with a series of student visas. He has completed three master’s degrees, he said, and is working on a doctorate in social science at Nova Southeastern University in Florida. The couple married in New York last year, and they applied for a green card in February.
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As it turns out, the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services has maintained a list of gay couples petitioning for a green card over the last two years in the expectation that DOMA might be overturned. Now that it has been, thousands of couples like Popov and Marsh will soon be receiving green cards without having to resubmit their petition.

Although the couple’s marriage is now recognized by the federal government, their home state of Florida—whose constitution bans both civil unions and same-sex marriage—still refuses to recognize their union. The couple hopes to help overturn the anti-gay constitutional amendment, which passed with 62 percent of the vote in 2008.

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers science, the law, and LGBTQ issues.