There was some crying in the middle of Dalston Junction this afternoon when I realised that the Supreme Court of the United States had overturned DOMA — the Defense of Marriage Act. Whilst any move forward for the civil rights movement gets me emotional, I was weeping because two people I love dearly are closely affected by today’s historic decision.
For those of you who are new-ish to LLG, two of my dearest friends, Jason and Yoann, and their Basset Hounds Max and Finchley, have always opened their doors to me at their home in New Jersey (chronicled under the My Life in New Jersey category), and they and their home have been consistent characters on LLG.
Jason is an American CEO, Yoann is a French interior designer. They met in Estonia over ten years ago, and have been together ever since. (Little known fact: Max is an Estonian Basset Hound.) They moved to London, and then Jason got a brilliant job back in America.
But DOMA meant that, even in the twelve states where gay marriage was recognised, same sex couples were not eligible for federal recognition or benefits. So Yoann could not get a spousal visa to remain in the US. Finally, after years of worry, he secured a job that allowed him a work visa in the US, but it wasn’t in interior design. Essentially he went to work in this job purely to allow him to stay in the US.
The situation was ridiculous: they have shared their lives, house & hounds for many years yet, because the American Federal Government refused to recognise both gay marriage in the US OR accept civil partnerships contracted outside of the US, Yoann had no permanent status in the US.
Yoann sums it up beautifully today on his Facebook page:
“DOMA which did not allow Jason to sponsor me/his husband for immigration purposes (to get a green card) has been declared unconstitutional this morning. That means that in the months to come I should be able to get a green card and that would allow me to leave my job to do what I am meant to do + it’s a big step for the whole LGBT community as it also affects social security, inheritance, adoption… A big big step for equality and for a lot of loving people.”
I read today that roughly 24,700 other binational same-sex couples can now breathe a sigh of relief (via Think Progress). The thing that I am most proud of is that earlier this years the boys stuck their head over the parapet, met with their senator, and agreed to be interviewed on NPR about their immigration situation in the run up to today. If DOMA hadn’t been repealed, they could have found themselves in a tricky situation, with Yoann’s visa at risk.
The flag flying proudly over the boys’ home in New Jersey today.