A binational married gay couple became the first same sex partnership to successfully petition for an immigrant resident visa since the downfall of the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA).
“We feel amazingly euphoric knowing that our own government recognizes our own marriage and now we want our state to do the same,” Julian Marsh told WFOR-TV in an interview aired Sunday. “The only things we get in Broward County is, we can register as domestic partners and the only thing that gives us is visitation rights in the hospital.”
Marsh’s partner, Traian Popov, is a Bulgarian national, while Marsh has U.S. and Canadian citizenship. The couple got married in New York state, where marriage equality is legal, in October 2012. The Associated Press reported that, while Popov was able to remain in the U.S. while studying for his master’s degree in social studies, he and Marsh were prepared to move to another country if they could not secure him a visa.
“I wanted to stay with him forever in the country that we chose to be in,” Marsh told the AP.
But their fortunes changed when the Supreme Court struck DOMA down on June 26, ruling in a 5-4 decision that same sex couples married in states sanctioning their union were eligible for visas and other federal benefits. Two days later, Popov was notified via email that his petition had been approved.
“It was just kind of a shock, like winning the lottery,” Marsh told the New York Times. “The amazing overwhelming fact is that the government said yes, and my husband and I can live in the country we chose and we love and want to stay in.”
The couple’s lawyer, Lavi Soloway, also took their case into the public eye through the DOMA Project, an activist group he co-founded. Soloway told the AP the organization has filed about 100 similar petitions in the past three years, and expects more approvals to follow in the wake of the high court’s ruling.
WFOR also reported that the defeat of DOMA could also pave the way for challenges against same sex marriage bans at the state level.
“We would like our marriage to be recognized even in a state where it wasn’t performed in,” Popov told the AP. “We want civil recognition.”
Watch WFOR’s report on the good news for Marsh and Popov, aired Sunday, below.
[Image via The DOMA Project Facebook page]