Monday, July 01, 2013

Department of Homeland Security: Implementation of the Supreme Court Ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act

Statement from Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano

“After last week’s decision by the Supreme Court holding that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, President Obama directed federal departments to ensure the decision and its implication for federal benefits for same-sex legally married couples are implemented swiftly and smoothly.  To that end, effective immediately, I have directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse.”

Please visit the DHS website for FAQs for same-sex binational couples.

Out4Immigration has compiled the following resources for attorney recommendations and resources:

Friday, June 28, 2013

March with Out4Immigration at SF Pride, Sunday, June 30

We have LOTS to celebrate, so please consider marching with us this Sunday, June 30.

Here are the details:

Contingent #34
Meet at Area G - Spear between Mission & Howard
Time to Have Vehicle/Representative in Assembly Area: 9:30 AM
Contingent Should Be in Place by: 10:00 AM

RSVP at this link, and please share:

We are marching with our long-time allies Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA) - and we are up at the front of the parade!!! (There are over 200 contingents this year, so our prominent spot will certainly ignite the crowd.)

We're expecting a lot of you to march with us, and could use a few extra contingent monitors. There is one last training tonight (Friday) in San Francisco, from 7-9pm at the Women's Building, 3543 18th Street, San Francisco.

Those of you who have done the training before know that it's fast (usually doesn't take the whole 2 hours), fun (hey, Safety Freddy is still on the job) and you get to wear a snazzy button on Pride Day.

We also could use a few more people volunteering at our booth at the "Marriage Pavilion" (we're sharing space with MEUSA).

Please go to this link and RSVP:

Can you do an hour or two in the booth helping Dennis and Amos on Saturday explain what the end of DOMA means to same-sex binational couples? Or, Sunday, after the parade? We should be done marching by noon.

Finally, if you do not have one of our "United by Law, Divided by Law" t-shirts with the broken heart on the back (now a collector's item, btw!!!) - please let us know what size you need and we will have some available on Sunday. We ask for a $15 donation to cover costs.

If you have any questions about Pride, the contingent training or volunteering in the booth, please email us

For all your questions (and we know many of you have a LOT of them regarding the end of DOMA and green card applications), please read our press release. If you scroll to the end there are several resources, including two FAQ sites for same-sex binationals. This should help you get some

Also -- for those of you who we will see this weekend, our local volunteers Amos, Erik, Chris, Gina and Kathy will be able to answer a lot of questions for you in person.

See you on Sunday!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

BREAKING: Supreme Court’s DOMA Decision Grants Same-Sex Binationals Federal Immigration Rights

Key Part of Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Struck Down,
California's Proposition 8 Case Dismissed

Media Contacts:
Amos Lim, Out4Immigration, 415-742-1626,
Kathy Drasky, Out4Immigration, 415-606-2085,

SAN FRANCISCO – JUNE 26, 2013 – The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) struck down Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) this morning and declared that same-sex couples who are legally married deserve equal rights to the benefits under federal law that go to all other married couples. Of the more than 1,100 federal rights no one is more critical to same-sex binational couples than immigration – or the right of an American citizen to sponsor a foreign-born spouse for permanent residency, or a green card.

In a separate ruling, SCOTUS also dismissed California’s Proposition 8 case, a referendum that took away marriage equality from gay and lesbian couples in 2008. This ruling returns the case to a previous 2009 state ruling that declared Proposition 8 was “unconstitutional” under California law. 

Both rulings were decided on 5-4 votes. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion on the DOMA case. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for the Prop. 8 case.

While the DOMA ruling is clear – federal benefits for any couple that is legally married in a state, country or jurisdiction where same-sex marriage is legal, the Proposition 8 ruling will take more time for lawmakers to sort out. In the best case scenario, marriage equality will be restored to California within a month. 

“Out4Immigration is elated with the results of today’s decisions. One of our routes to immigration equality for same-sex binational couples has always been the demise of DOMA. Today that has happened,” said Amos Lim, Co-founder and Community Outreach Director of Out4Immigration.

“We will continue to watch how the Proposition 8 decision unfolds and hope for a quick restoration of marriage equality in California,” Lim added.

As California, the most populous state, restores marriage equality for its citizens, there will now be 13 states, as well as the District of Columbia, where same-sex marriage is legal.

Lim pointed out, however, that same-sex binational couples currently living in the states that lack marriage equality will need to travel to a place where same-sex marriage is legal in order to obtain a marriage that will give them federal benefits. Although federal benefits will be available to these couples, those living in states that lack equal marriage protection will continue to be subject to discrimination at the state level.

“We remain concerned that statutory barriers are still in place for some couples and urge Congress to immediately repeal DOMA in its entirety,” said Lim.

Democratic members of Congress were quick to praise the DOMA ruling and pledged to introduce legislation that would finish the job of fully repealing the discriminatory law.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) took to Twitter to say, "I will introduce legislation ASAP to repeal discriminatory DOMA once and for all.”

Same-sex binational couples seeking advice on how to proceed with marriage and fiancée visa petitions (i.e., "green card applications”) are encouraged to view these resources: “After DOMA: What It Means for You” from the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), After DOMA: Immigration from Lambda Legal and “The End of DOMA: What Your Family Needs to Know” from Immigration Equality.

The law firm, Masliah and Soloway are offering free consultations to same-sex binational couples. Email them at

Also, the law firm McCown and Evans is offering free consultations to same-sex binationals. Please contact them at (415) 834-9123, or email  

In the San Francisco Bay Area, McCown and Evans will be hosting a series of free legal workshops for same-sex binationals in July and August. Visit for details.

# # #
For more information:

Out4Immigration blog (featuring stories of same-sex binationals):
United by Love, Divided by Law (visual protest by same-sex binational couples separated by U.S. immigration laws):
Count Me In / Same-Sex Binationals Share Their Stories:

Out4Immigration is a national grassroots organization dedicated to raising awareness about the discrimination same-sex binational couples face under current U.S. immigration law and the difficulties they encounter in keeping their families together legally in this country. For more information, visit

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

VIDEO: Where Is Home? Ken & Otts Tell Their Story

Where is Home? A Binational Gay Love Story from otts on Vimeo.
Ken, an American citizen, and his foreign-born spouse Otts, have already endured one painful separation. In 2014, they are facing another one...unless tomorrow's decision by the Supreme Court of the United States renders Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Join Out4Immigration at San Francisco Pride, June 29-30 and Attend DOMA Day of Decision Rally (Various Locations)

Another Day of Decision has come and gone, leaving only three more potential days for the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to announce their decisions on the pending DOMA and Proposition 8 cases.

Those dates are now: Monday, June 24, Thursday, June 27 or Friday, June 28.

Win, lose or draw - be sure to make your voice heard. Attend a Day of Decision rally in your city. Check this link for information. Our legal sources have informed us that if DOMA is overturned, same-sex binationals will be able to file marriage-based green card applications. We encourage you to consult with your immigration attorney as soon as possible. If you need recommendations, you can email us at

One thing is certain. We will have a SCOTUS decision before San Francisco Pride on June 29-30. That's why we need all hands on deck to help disseminate information at our booth at Civic Center on both days, as well as to march with us at 10 am on Sunday, June 30.
  • To volunteer for a 2-hour shift at our booth, June 29-30, please RSVP at this Facebook link.
  • To march with us at San Francisco Pride on June 30, please RSVP at this Facebook link.
Not on Facebook, but ready to help out? Let us know at

This year we are again sharing booth space with our allies Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA) and marching behind their contingent in the parade. Our message is very much linked to theirs - marriage equality has always been one of the pathways to ending immigration inequality. With our current exclusion from the Senate immigration bill, the pathway to green cards for same-sex binationals hinges heavily on the DOMA decision. 

We will put out an email on the Day of Decision sharing with all of you what we know and available resources. Please keep visiting the Facebook links above and checking our blog and Yahoo News Group for our Pride booth number and Parade contingent meetup time and place. We'll encourage those of you marching in the parade to bring your own signs -- will they say finally "United by Love, United by Law" or ....?

Take a deep breath.

“I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it,
life is not worth living." - Harvey Milk.


UPCOMING INFORMATION SESSIONS: Marriage after DOMA - Why You Should Walk (Not Run) to Tie the Knot

Save these dates - and RSVP now.

The law firm of McCown & Evans along with the Beck Law Group will be holding four free information sessions in San Francisco* and the East Bay* in July and August to assist same-sex binational couples with post-DOMA issues (pending Sectiion 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA, being found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court).

  • San Francisco dates are: Tuesday, July 16 (5:30-7pm) and Thursday, August 22 (5:30-7pm) at San Francisco Public Library, Koret Auditorium,100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 
  • East Bay dates are: Tuesday, July 30 (6:30-8pm) and Saturday, August 17 (10-11:30am) at Bananas Inc., Main Meeting Room, 5232 Claremont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94618

Speakers will include immigration attorneys Kelly McCown and Jeptha Evans, Partners/Co-Founders of McCown & Evans LLP and tax attorney Alma Soongi Beck of the Beck Law Group, P.C. 

Topics for discussion will include: 

  • Immigration options for same-sex binational couples after DOMA 
  • Requirements for fiancé visas or marriage-based green cards 
  • Federal Income Tax implications after DOMA 
  • Social Security benefits implications after DOMA 

To RSVP, please contact Andrea from McCown & Evans LLP at or (415) 834-9123. For additional information, please see or

COST: Seminars are free of charge. These are informational seminars. There is no cost or obligation.

This event is hosted by the Beck Law Group, McCown & Evans, Our Family Coalition, Gay Asian Pacific Alliance, Asian Pacific Islander Queer Women & Transgender Community, API Equality and Out4Immigration.

*Plans are being made to record these sessions and make them available later on YouTube.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Meet Michelle Dicinoski, Author of "Ghost Wife" - A Memoir about Same-Sex Marriage, with a Binational Perspective

by Kathy Drasky

Author Michelle Dicinoski
Being part of an American=Australian same-sex binational marriage, I spend a fair bit of time Down Under with my wife, whose work - and visa requirements - bring her back home several times a year. On my last trip I learned about the memoir, Ghost Wife, by Australian writer Michelle Dicinoski, who is married to an American woman, now living in exile. It took us a while to catch up, but when we did, Michelle agreed to answer a number of questions about her binational marriage and its basis for Ghost Wife.

Out4Immigration: At Out4Immigration, we always ask people to tell us their story – well, you wrote a book! Can you tell us how you met your wife – and at what point you realized that being in a same-sex binational relationship was not going to be easy, immigration-wise?

Michelle: I met Heather in 2004, when we were both studying at the University of Queensland, in Brisbane. Heather grew up in Florida, and also lived for several years in Massachusetts. I grew up in Queensland, and had never traveled overseas when I first met Heather. From the moment our relationship became serious, we were definitely worried about what would happen after Heather’s visa ended. Would she have to return to the United States without me? What would that mean for our relationship? We were lucky because she had a three-year student visa, which gave us time to get to know each other and even to marry (in Canada). But as it turned out, Heather’s application for permanent residency in Australia was approved quite smoothly, so we were able to stay put.

Out4Immigration: Can you tell us about the Australian laws that allow you and your wife to live together there, in spite of an Australian "DOMA-like" ban against same-sex marriage?  

Michelle: Although Australia does not recognize same-sex marriage, it has for many years recognized same-sex relationships as "interdependent relationships" for purposes of migration. As long as couples can prove that they have a genuine, ongoing relationship of some standing, foreign nationals who are in relationships with an Australian seem generally to be approved (after a longish assessment period) to migrate to Australia. Most of the people I know of who've done this have been American or European, though; I am not sure if it's harder if you’re from another region.

The title of your book is Ghost Wife. What does that originate from?

While preparing for our wedding trip, I heard a story about ghost marriages. In these marriages, which have been relatively common in China, a living person can be married to the spirit of a dead person. I was fascinated by this idea; marriage has been so many different things, at different times and in different places. Most of all, I was provoked by the idea that in some places, ghosts can marry, when for Heather and me, our marriage itself would be a kind of ghost. We would return from Canada married, but not. As I write in the memoir, I began to wonder: "Would we forever ghost at the edges of things – families, laws, histories? There is a certain mystique in invisibility, but not when it's thrust upon you. Sometimes you just want to be seen." So I decided to write about our wedding as a way of making it visible. As I put it in Ghost Wife, if our countries refused to acknowledge our wedding, "I'd document what happened in an irrefutable way: I'd write about the wedding and the journey leading up to it. It would be a permanent record. A testament. Proof."

Writing a memoir like this had to be cathartic. Has it helped you deal better with the inequality of the situation – your marriage not being recognized in either Australia or the U.S. ? The inability of your wife to sponsor you to live in America due to our unfair immigration laws?

Michelle: It hasn't really provided a release in any way, but the writing process has been fascinating. Perhaps the best part was including the stories of other queers who also lived in marriage-like relationships, but 50 or 100 or 150 years ago. I map their stories onto the places that Heather and I visit — Melbourne, Boston, Toronto, Niagara Falls — to show that queer lives have always existed, although they have often been suppressed or denied. My hope is that by telling these stories — Heather’s and mine, and the stories of other "ghost wives" — I will help increase awareness of our situation, so that one day I can live in the U.S. with Heather, if that is where our lives take us. Especially as our parents age, questions of residency become increasingly important. We should be able to return to care for Heather's parents and other family members, if they need us to, but at the moment we can't, not as a couple. It ends up being a choice between partner and family, and no one should have to make that choice.

How does your wife feel about living in exile?

I write a little about the United States being closed to us, and how strange it is that Heather has left behind another whole life there, a life that we can only return to sporadically. Although she misses her family and friends, Heather is very happy in Australia. Still, we would both love the opportunity to live in the U.S. as a couple.

This is a two-part question. If DOMA is repealed and your marriage is suddenly recognized by the U.S. government, what do you think you and your wife will do? And, if America suddenly has marriage equality – do you think Australia will soon follow suit?

If DOMA is repealed, the first thing Heather and I will do is have a big party! An international, multi-time zone party involving Skype and champagne. As for whether we will move, that's another question; we just moved interstate last year, and that was traumatic enough. I think our cats might disown us if we moved again any time soon. If the U.S. suddenly has marriage equality, the pressure on Australia will certainly increase. In fact, the recent change [marriage equality] in New Zealand seems to have increased people's belief that it is just a matter of time, and that Australia must change soon.

What has been the reaction to Ghost Wife in Australia?

The reaction has been wonderful. The reviews have been so positive, and I have been thrilled to see the book supported by both the mainstream and queer media.

Out4Immigration: What are you working on now?

Michelle: I am working on some poems right now, thanks to a grant from the Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarships, and also some non-fiction. I am looking forward to settling into the next long project. First, though, I’m focused on some upcoming travel this summer to the Tin House Writers’ Workshop in Portland, Oregon; and the amazing writer’s retreat Hedgebrook, on Whidbey Island in Washington.

Thanks, Michelle! Readers looking to purchase a copy of Ghost Wife, should visit, where it is available for Kindle. Other digital sources can be found at the book's publisher Black Inc. For those living in Australia or New Zealand, you can visit your local bookstore to purchase Ghost Wife in print.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Upcoming Pride Events in Sacramento and San Francisco

Here are some details on Out4Immigration Pride events. Help make these our best events ever by participating. We need everyone to come out this year in any/every way you can!

This Saturday, June 15 - Gina and Monica - aka as "the amazing Caprio sisters" will be running the Out4Immigration booth at Sacramento Pride. These ladies do a swell job of decorating the booth and educating our community about same-sex binationals and immigration inequality.

If you can help out, please email Gina at

We will be at Booth 23. Stop by and say "hello" and RSVP on Facebook if you plan to attend:

Meanwhile, down in San Francisco, we are gearing up for a huge turnout as we march with our allies Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA) on Sunday, June 30.

You can RSVP to march with our contingent on Sunday, June 30 at 10am on our Facebook page:

More details about contingent number and exact time to assemble will be coming soon.

We need contingent monitors. If you have never taken the training before, it's short and fun. And you get to wear a special button on parade day! So, c'mon. Check out the dates and locations of the training here:

When you complete the training, send us an email at to let us know.

Also this year - the Fabulous Dennis Veite is running our booth space at the Civic Center on Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30. We are again sharing space with MEUSA and need volunteers to do two-hour shifts.

Please let Dennis know if you can help out at this Facebook link:

Because we are all anticipating the Supreme Court's rulings on the DOMA and Prop 8 cases - and realize we may not get a decision until June 28 -- we need all hands on deck to be able to come and help disseminate important information. What will the decisions mean to same-sex binationals? What do they mean if you live in California?

It's an important Pride season to be together -- so, whether you have done this many times before or are a first-timer, come on out and let's make this year be our loudest and proudest ever.

See you there!