Main | Tuesday, March 22, 2011

NEW YORK: Binational Lesbian Couple Allowed To Pursue Marriage Claim

In what Gay City News describes as the first decision of its kind, a Manhattan immigration judge has suspended the deportation of an Argentine lesbian because she and her partner are legally married in Connecticut. Paul Schindler reports:
Monica Alcota, 35, who came to the US a decade ago, married her partner of nearly three years, 25-year-old Cristina Ojeda, last August in Connecticut. The couple’s attorneys, Lavi Soloway and Noemi Masliah, argue that their clients’ marital status should qualify Alcota for permanent residency, as would be the case with any different-sex couple. A 2010 US court ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act’s denial of federal recognition for legal same-sex marriages, they say –– coupled with the Justice Department’s recent decision that it could not and would not defend DOMA’s constitutionality on that point –– opens up the real possibility that Alcota and Ojeda may be accorded recognition. In a March 22 hearing in the US courthouse at 26 Federal Plaza in Lower Manhattan, Immigration Judge Terry A. Bain gave the couple the go-ahead to press their claim with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) –– a unit of the Department of Homeland Security –– through what is known as Form I-130, a petition to have Alcota recognized as “the spouse of USC.” For now, the couple’s case has been adjourned until December, a decision supported by the government's attorney.
Attorney Lavi Soloway: "It is almost impossible to overstate the significance of what happened in there. An adjournment based on an I-130. It would never have happened a year ago. I don’t think I even would have filed it."

[Photo credit: Gay City News]

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