Charlotte immigrants group praises DOMA ruling

Ruling paves way for equal immigration process for same-sex couples

by Matt Comer  Editor  editor@goqnotes.com
Published: June 26, 2013 in News

Originally published: June 26, 2013, 2:08 p.m.
Updated: June 26, 2013, 3:59 p.m.

Asheville couple Becky and Sanne will benefit from today's ruling, paving the way for equality for binational same-sex couples.

Asheville couple Becky and Sanne, with their daughter Willow, will benefit from today’s ruling, paving the way for equality for binational same-sex couples.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Latin American Coalition praised today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning a portion of a federal law banning same-sex marriage recognition. The ruling, the group said, paves the way for binational same-sex couples to be treated equally under current immigration laws.

The Supreme Court struck down a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act restricting legally-married same-sex couples from federal recognition and benefits. National immigration law allows U.S. citizens to sponsor their foreign-born spouses for permanent resident status. Until today, only heterosexual couples could take advantage of that benefit.

“We celebrate this change because it allows families to stay together without the fear of being torn apart by an outdated immigration system,” the Latin American Coalition said in a statement.

Today’s ruling affects binational same-sex couples across the U.S. and in the Carolinas.

Ryan Wilson, executive director of South Carolina Equality, told qnotes he and his husband, Shehan Welihindha, who was born in Sri Lanka, will begin researching the immigration process next week. The two legally married in Maryland, Wilson’s home state, in January.

In Asheville, mothers Becky Boisvert, who is from the U.S., and Sanne Schijzen, from The Netherlands, will be able to remain united with their daughter, Willow. Their story was documented by the DOMA Project earlier this year.

In October 2012, Boisvert and Schijzen’s application to sponsor Schijzen was rejected, despite the couple’s legal marriage in The Netherlands. The case has been in the appeals process, a journey Boisvert is confident will be much easier now.

“We should be getting a notice for an interview any day now,” Boisvert told qnotes.

The Court’s decision made for a happy day, she said.

“It’s been a roller coaster for us for a couple years now,” Boisvert said. “[Our reaction] was one of amazement and disbelief and I think the ruling was more far-reaching than we could have imagined. It really felt like the hard work and courage and risk that we took to come back to this country and live here and create a life here is being honored and seen.”