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DOMA Doubts Rescue Couples from Deportation: This Week in Prop 8 for March 28, 2011

9th Circuit Court of Appeals DOMA Repeal Marriage equality Videos

Matt’s usual Monday feature didn’t go up while I was away, so here it is. -Adam

By Matt Baume

Sex sells when it comes to marriage equality, with a male modeling agency lending its talents to a new fundraising campaign. A reprieve for a woman facing deportation proves just how important marriage can be. Meanwhile, more voters than ever support the freedom to marry, so why aren’t politicians listening?


Sexy torsos! A group of male models are showing their support for marriage equality by signing their names to a Shepard Fairy poster which will then be auctioned to support the grassroots organization FAIR.

It’s a lovely poster, and it’s very nice that the Nous Model Management company is supporting this project. But I gotta say, the primary appeal of these men is probably not their signatures. You have to wonder if maybe they could’ve raised more money and awareness by auctioning off pictures of themselves.

I mean, the only reason I’m even talking about this is so I can flash shirtless men on screen at the top of the show. There’s nothing better than sex for getting people interested in a cause.

But either way, it’s very nice that they’re doing this, and hopefully we’ll see more things like this that feature people of color, women, diverse body types, the disabled … something representative of our entire community.

Turning to Prop 8 news, this week the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals turned down a request to lift the stay that prevents gay couples from getting married right now. Even though Prop 8 has been already found unconstitutional, it’s still in place while the anti-gay industry appeals.

That’s hurting gay couples right now who need access to marriage. And even though we can demonstrate the harm of that keeping Prop 8 in place causes, the court wants to play it safe until all the appeals are done.

So, why is access to marriage so important? We got a great answer to that question this week when a judge in New York halted the deportation of woman because she was able to get married.

For more information about that case, let’s talk to her attorney, Lavi Soloway.

MATT: So I’m talking today with Lavi Soloway. He has great news this week for bi-national couples. So, Lavi, tell me a little about Monica and Christina.

LAVI: Well, Monica came from Argentina about 10 years ago. And in the process of getting together in their relationship, they decided to move in together. And Christina at the time was finishing her studies up at college in Buffalo, and Monica and Christina went up on a bus to go get the last of her things to move them down to New York City.

And while they were on the bus, it stopped in Rochester, New York, and the border patrol got on the bus, asked everybody for their papers, and found that Monica was in the United States without legal status and took her away. And Monica was detained in a detention facility in New Jersey for three months, and eventually released and then placed into deportation proceedings.

MATT: And what does that look like, what happens when somebody’s in deportation proceedings?

LAVI: Well, of course deportation proceedings are somewhat of a euphemism, because there’s not a lot of proceeding. You go to court, you appear before a judge, and a judge determines whether you have any right to stay in the United States. And unfortunately for Monica, as for many of the foreign spouses and partners of gay and lesbian Americans, she didn’t have any kind of Visa status, and she didn’t have any kind of legal avenue to stay in the United States.

But she was married to a U.S. citizen. And she did want to assert her right to stay in the United States on the basis of that marriage.

MATT: So, fast-forwarding to their day in court, what were you arguing and what made things different this time?

LAVI: Well, what we argued this week in court was that the judge and the attorney representing the Department of Homeland Security should take note of the changing landscape of the Defense of Marriage Act. And what does that mean specifically? It means that they should take note of the fact first that the President and the Attorney General announced that they would no longer defend the defense of marriage act on February 23, and that they found the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. But also that Congress, both the House and the Senate, were moving now to repeal it. And that legislation had been introduced.

And then of course, that previously, this summer, a federal district court judge had ruled the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional. And that taken together, all three branches were essentially working on the demise of the Defense of Marriage Act, that it would be premature to deport the spouse of a lesbian American citizen, while that was happening, when the Defense of Marriage Act was the only obstacle standing between them and a green card.

MATT: And how did they respond? How did the court respond?

LAVI: Well, of course we were very very pleased that both the judge and the government attorney were very open to this argument. And agreed to adjourn the proceedings and to allow Christina and Monica to pursue a marriage-based immigration case to its conclusion.

MATT: What do you put that down to? Why were they so receptive to this argument?

LAVI: Well, I think that in part it’s the conversation that we’re having in the United States outside of the courtroom. I think that in part it’s the polling data and the momentum of public opinion that really no longer sees gay and lesbian couples who are married as deserving of discrimination. And really there’s a lack of an argument to the other side.

And the other part of it is that the personal narrative of Christina and Monica wanting to be together and living together as spouses and being lawfully married under the laws of the state of Connecticut in this case, that’s a very powerful narrative, and when you look at them and you see their life together and you see in the paperwork they’ve provided all the evidence of a bona fide marriage, it’s hard to say to them, “you know what, sorry, we have to deport your spouse.”

So I think it’s a combination of the things going on outside the courtroom, and it’s the courage and the determination and ultimately the personal story of that couple that persuades both the judge and the government attorney to do the right thing.

MATT: So what are the next few months going to look like for this couple?

LAVI: Well we have some more filings. Now that we’ve been given this opportunity we’re going to file some more paperwork in support of the marriage case. And we’re going to keep track of the marriage case and see how the immigration service handles it. In any marriage case, usually it’s a heterosexual couple, but in any marriage case it’s typically a process that takes six to twelve months, so we have a ways to go, and we hope that ultimately their case will be approved and that Monica will get her green card on the basis of the marriage and the two will no longer have to go to immigration court.

MATT: Well, we’ll cross our fingers and hope for the best. Lavi Soloway is an immigration attorney and founder of Immigration Equality and Stop the Deportations. Lavi, thanks so much for speaking with us.

LAVI: Thanks, Matt.

Now, keep in mind that these legal proceedings are going to take months to years.

But there were some encouraging signs this week on DOMA repeal. We’re now just one vote shy of passing repeal in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Getting it passed there is going to be a big first step, and it’ll build momentum for full passage in the Senate.

Of course, the National Organization for Marriage is pushing back with all kinds of lies about DOMA. We put out a video last week that debunks all their crazy claims. You can click over here to watch it. And if you haven’t contacted your members of Congress yet to tell them why we need DOMA overturned, there’s never been a better time.

That’s because new polls show that a majority of Americans want DOMA repealed. It’s a big shift in public opinion, and smart politicians are listening.

This week in Colorado, the Colorado Senate passed a Civil Unions bill by a pretty large margin — 23 to 12, which included some Republicans voting for the bill. Now it goes to the House, where there should be enough votes to pass it, but other Republicans may try to kill the bill with procedural tricks.

And we’re losing ground in Indiana. Even though the state already bans gay couples from marrying, Republicans want to add a second ban in case the first one is found unconstitutional. That’s already passed the House, it passed the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. And it’s likely to pass the full Senate sometime soon. Then it goes to voters. And there’s some room for hope there. A new poll this week shows Indiana voters oppose the bill.

But of course, polls have wrongly shown us winning in the past.

And last, there’s good news coming out of Europe. Lichtenstein’s Parliament unanimously approved a limited form of civil unions called “partnerschaftsgesetz.” In England, where they’ve long had civil unions, Home Secretary Theresa May promised to move forward on full marriage equality. And civil unions are coming to a tiny island off the British coast called The Isle of Man. That’s a big deal, because the Isle of Man is relatively rural and conservative, and not at all what the name “Isle of Man” might lead you to hope.

Speaking of which, here are those torsos again, not really for any reason, just ta-da.

Now click over here to catch our previous episodes, and click over here to subscribe. And if you’ve already done that, then head over and to tell your tell your elected officials that a majority of Americans support DOMA repeal.

See you next week.


  • 1. Kathleen  |  March 30, 2011 at 4:14 am

    UPDATE: Mass DOMA cases

    ORDER – puts a hold on the cases until further notice and requires the Executive Branch to file a status report by June 1.

  • 2. Alan E.  |  March 30, 2011 at 4:17 am

    Will have to read later. Is this the same situation as the OPM case?

  • 3. Ray in MA  |  March 30, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Logical Headline:

    "DOMA court trials enter Constipation Dilemna"

    … backup awaiting Constitutional resolution.

    News at 11.

  • 4. Russell  |  March 30, 2011 at 4:18 am

    More indoctrination from Fr. John Hollowell at Cardinal Ritter High School

  • 5. Carpool Cookie  |  March 30, 2011 at 5:56 am

    Uggh….I got depressed watching that, partially because it brought me back to high school (though none of my teachers were THAT detached and boring!!)

  • 6. grod  |  March 30, 2011 at 10:15 am

    @Carpool Cookie
    I was surprised with how little had changed in 35+ years.

  • 7. Sagesse  |  March 30, 2011 at 4:20 am

    Following along.

  • 8. Richard A. Jernigan  |  March 30, 2011 at 4:36 am

    And the more stories like this that are shown and told, about the real harms DOMA is causing, the more likely we are to see DOMA finally fall.

  • 9. Shelly & Simie  |  March 30, 2011 at 4:57 am

    Well Rachel just wrote a piece on immigration equality that now the uscis is changing their minds( like they change their underware) my saying) go to immigration quality for the full story. keep ur klenex handy cause we will all be needin it again!!!

  • 10. Michelle Evans  |  March 30, 2011 at 5:11 am

    From a bad source, but the story itself is very heartening:

    If this doesn't show people like Brian that he's on the wrong side of history, what would? Maybe an embossed letter from god? People's minds are changing every day. Too bad his is still so closed off.


  • 11. the lone ranger  |  March 30, 2011 at 6:14 am

    You're right that the overall story is heartening, but the word "special" in the first line is irksome:

    "A new study shows that Roman Catholics are more supportive of homosexual special rights than are the general public and other Christians."

    What are "homosexual special right"? The rights described in the body text (freedom from workplace discrimination, military service, adoption, marriage) sound like the same rights everyone else has… what's so special?

    That misleading word "special" appears again later in the piece… grrrr.

  • 12. Michelle Evans  |  March 30, 2011 at 7:01 am

    These phrases such as "special rights" and "mariage" in scare quotes, were all added by One News Now, and are not in the actual survey. It shows how biased ONN and the AFA are, not to mention just outright lying about it all in the first place. Here is the link to the actual study so you can see the real results with the actual wording:

  • 13. Ray in MA  |  March 30, 2011 at 9:54 am

    I'd like to see a statistical comparison of the education levels of Catholics compared to "other Christians".

    That would be interesting, too.

    ,,, which prompted my own Google search:

    somewhat related:

  • 14. Sheryl Carver  |  March 30, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Unfortunately, the results of the survey are not surprising. And probably still true today. We humans love to think we are rational beings, but my experience tells me that, in our society at least, we spend more time rationalizing than behaving rationally.

  • 15. Lar  |  March 30, 2011 at 5:36 am

    Off Thread: I have often wondered who it was that "Married" Adam and Eve, supposedly they were the first inhabitants in this world and the religious right always refers to them as what god created. The thing that I am having issue with is who gave them a marriage license or proclaimed them "married"? Could it be that god created them and they lived in sin? Maybe they received an "embossed letter from god" like Michelle Evans referred to above. If anyone has any insight on this, could they please share.

  • 16. Straight Ally #3008  |  March 30, 2011 at 5:52 am

    Maybe Richard or BZ could help me out on this, but isn't it true that the original term for Adam could be interpreted as "humanity?" I look at Genesis as parable, of course (not to mention that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 have different time lines, which the creationists try to sweep under the rug) so I'm not the best resource here. 🙂

  • 17. fiona64  |  March 30, 2011 at 6:00 am

    Except that Eve wasn't Adam's first wife.

    Ref. Lilith, who refused to be submissive and got bounced out of Eden.


  • 18. Ray in MA  |  March 30, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Back then, economic times were tough for God and he was his own Jusitce of the Peace.

    Eventually there were greedy children who realized they could make a buck by marrying off each other…out of sibling rivalry came the jews, christians and moslems. and here we are today.

    Hence, the miracle of modern religion.

  • 19. nightshayde  |  March 30, 2011 at 6:26 am

    I can't see images here (lots of images & almost all videos are blocked by my employer's firewall), so please forgive me if my assessment of the image is wrong …

    I'm all for looking at images of hot shirtless men (being a straight female) — but is pushing the marriage equality message with photos of shirtless hot guys really what we should be doing? Doesn't it just fall into the "the gays are all about sex with multiple partners & don't really NEED marriage" trap?

    It also seems pretty insensitive to the lesbians in the community – but I could be being overly sensitive.


  • 20. LCH  |  March 30, 2011 at 7:09 am

    The shirtless thing is only a fundraiser poster auction so I don't think it'll have legs in the way your fear. Also it was nice to hear that there are plans to auction posters of women, people of color and diverse body types.

    My opinion is not yet formed on this. Fundraisers of this type have been done before. One of the original groups that did this was a bunch of middle aged housewives in England who did "nude" calendar to raise money.

  • 21. Rhie  |  March 30, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Eh, various levels of nude in fundraising posters or calenders from groups from the DNC to fire departments are so normal now that they border on cliched.

    If people are thinking that this is evidence of LGBT being all kinds of promiscuous, they need to just to get over it. In my experience, those types also define promiscuous as more than one sexual partner in a lifetime, and a slut as a woman who enjoys sex. As far as I am concerned, that's their problem and I don't have to pander to it.

  • 22. Rhie  |  March 30, 2011 at 6:36 am

    This is really good news. It signals to me that assorted government agencies think DOMA will be repealed, and soon.

  • 23. 415kathleenk  |  March 30, 2011 at 11:36 am

    i am proud to say i am from California and my senator- Sen. Feinstein is the one who introduced the repeal bill in the Senate Judiciary Committee

    Way to go Senator Di!!!

    Good news on the immigration front- at least there will be delays in deportation until this gets sorted out. Some govmint officials are compassionate- some… not so much. Happy wednesday everyone

  • 24. Ronnie  |  March 31, 2011 at 12:55 am

    Subscribing….reading later…& sharing

    The new gay character in the Archie comics, Kevin Keller, is getting his own 4 issue series & if it does as well as the "Veronica" issue that he made his debut in then co-CEO Jon Goldwater says it may lead to an ongoing series…..


    'Archie' pal 'out' with own series

  • 25. MJFargo  |  March 31, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    What a hopeful (and terrific) story!

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