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Supreme Court ruling on Defense of Marriage Act could allow gay binational couples to stay in U.S.

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

An upcoming Supreme Court decision on whether a woman must pay inheritance tax on her late wife’s estate could also determine whether Coral Gables newlyweds Daniel Zavala and Yohandel Ruiz get to stay together in the United States.

Zavala and Ruiz, along with thousands of other gay and lesbian binational couples, face separation because of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing legally married same-sex spouses.

“I should not have to leave the country to be with the person I love,” said Cuban-born Ruiz, an American citizen who grew up in Hialeah. “I should be able to sponsor my husband, Daniel, to stay in the country.”

Zavala, now 27, visited Miami from Mexico about two years ago on a tourist visa. He met Ruiz, now 37, one night in Score nightclub on Lincoln Road in South Beach. He commuted between both countries during their courtship. The men wed in Washington, D.C., on May 1, 2012. Two days later, Zavala’s tourist visa expired.

“We didn’t want to break any laws so we decided to get married,” Ruiz said. “I petitioned for Daniel, like any normal spouse would do. We were denied.”

In November, Ruiz received a letter from the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services.

“Both you and the beneficiary are male,” an Immigration officer wrote to Ruiz, after he petitioned to sponsor Zavala. “The [U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act] does not specifically define the term ‘spouse’ with respect to gender, but Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) states for purposes of eligibility for federal benefits, ‘marriage’ means ‘only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife’ and the word ‘spouse’ refers ‘only to a person of the opposite sex who is not a husband or a wife.’”

The letter from Missouri infuriated the men. “We don't even have the decency of getting an interview. If you’re going to deny me, deny me to my face. I want them to tell me that in person,” Ruiz said. He and Zavala are fighting the written ruling and still seeking an in-person interview.

“We want them interviewed and scrutinized like all other green-card marriages to determine that, except for DOMA, they meet all the requirements for approval,” said the men’s attorney, Lavi Soloway, who specializes in same-sex immigration cases.

Studies have shown there are about 40,000 same-sex binational couples living in the United States, Soloway said.

Soloway, who with law partner Noemi Masliah heads The DOMA Project: Binational Couples Fight For Equality, said Immigration has treated same-sex couples inconsistently.

“There are gay and lesbian spouses who have been interviewed, they receive employment authorization, they receive the benefit of lawful status of pending green card applications,” Soloway said. “They're eligible for Social Security cards, can open bank accounts, get driver’s licenses.”

Zavala, who has a degree in international relations from a Mexican university, cannot legally work in the United States or drive a car. He fears that if he leaves the United States, he won’t be able to return. He couldn’t attend his grandfather’s recent funeral in Mexico and his mother, being treated for cancer, had to visit Miami so she could see her son.

Ruiz, an interior designer who graduated from Design and Architecture High School in Miami and Florida International University, could move to Mexico with Zavala, where their American marriage would be recognized.

Zavala says that’s an unfair choice. “He shouldn’t be pushed away from his family because his country doesn’t recognize our marriage,” he said.

The DOMA Project recently posted a seven-minute video about Ruiz and Zavala to YouTube, Yohandel & Daniel: DOMA Threatens Young Love.

“We spoke with the lawyer and he asked if we were willing to participate and be advocates in his organization,” Zavala said. “It’s a better idea to do something than to sit and wait for something to happen. We thought this video would put some pressure to move things forward.”

Gay marriage equality is now legal in nine states and the District of Columbia, as well as Canada, Argentina, much of Mexico, parts of Europe and South Africa. Thirty-eight states, including Florida, have anti-gay marriage laws or constitutional amendments banning recognition of same-sex weddings.

There is a movement in Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which also permits states to not recognize gay marriages performed elsewhere. South Florida lawmakers Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson are among 156 co-sponsors of the Respect for Marriage Act, according to Freedom to Marry, a New York-based gay-rights group.

Before Congress ever votes on full repeal of DOMA, a portion of the law might be tossed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Last month, justices agreed to hear the case of Edith Windsor, an 83-year-old New Yorker who got hit with $363,053 in inheritance taxes after her wife, Thea Spyer, died in 2009. Windsor and Spyer, together 44 years, were married in 2007 in Canada and their home state recognized the marriage, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Windsor sued the U.S. government and last October a federal appeals court sided with her and declared DOMA unconstitutional.

When the Supreme Court agreed to hear Windsor’s case, justices said they would focus exclusively on DOMA’s Section 3 — the very section used by Homeland Security to deny residency for same-sex spouses.

“The law is clearly in a state of flux,” Soloway said. “It’s headed for its ultimate decision, ultimate ruling in June.”

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Gd loves repented sinners get close to him and he will get close to you!

"let Gd mend your broken heart"!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eI9zeQyUi3g

In your best Gay voice re-read: "If you’re going to deny me, deny me to my face. I want them to tell me that in person”

oooo scary


ok I tell you to your face NO. a word of advice stop doing that in the back door pretty soon you be wearing diapers thats not going to be fun.

You have got to be kidding me?

Lots of pathetic hate in here.

To Gd loves repented sinners:

a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

g) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?
h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?

i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16) Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.


Bravo!!! StoptheHate

Miami needs more open minded and rational people!

Response to "StoptheHate"

Your serious questions need some serious answers I will try to answer all your questions rationally ;)

a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

Answer:

Love your Neighbor as yourself just buy some "Free-breeze" to "Smite" the Bull! Mark 12:30-31

b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

Answer:

It depends on how much you love her just better treat her wright Gd is watching!
Colossians 4:1;Ephesians 6:9

c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Answer:

You insult woman by not being "aroused" by them.

d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

Answer:
One owes you money and the other don't ;)
Galatians 3:28

e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

Answer:

No Jesus/Gd gave the "True" Spiritual meaning of that commandment..."The Day of Rest" is made for man and Not man for "It"! Mark 2:27

f) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

Answer:

Actually both can give you sicknesses...But Homosexuality can send you to Hell!Romans 1:25-32


g) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?
h) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?

Answer:

a)Actually if your "Eye" causes you to stumble into the "Fiery Pit" make sure to remove it ;) Matthew 5:29

b)Love them but don't practice their "Life Style"Luke 6:27-36.

i) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

Answer:

Yes make sure to "wash" your hands on the way out ;)
Acts 10:15;Matthew 15:11;Romans 14:14.

j) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16) Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

Answer:

Let him dress how he pleases as long as is Not dressed in woman's clothes & disobey Gd's law!
Luke 10:25-26

Response to "StoptheHate"

d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

Answer: You can only commend what's beneath you not what above you. The last time I looked at the map, Canada is North of the U.S and Mexico is South (Below) of the U.S

Good god here come the bible versus. Can't wait for the elderly of Florida to die off.

LOL... my favorite wing-nut posting is the 'Gd loves repented sinners' bird. I love a person who is so full of themselves and THINKS they're so full of God that they speak for Him.

What a joke.

Ya es hora de cambiar la situación alrededor del mundo, no es aceptable que las personas sean maltratadas por su orientación sexual , las actitudes contra los gays deberían considerarse delito y los que hacen apología contra ellos penalizados, es igual que el maltrato hacia las mujeres. El mundo no es blanco o negro afortunadamente tenemos miles de colores.

Here's a question for Gd loves repented sinners...

If gay marriage is a civil matter and not a religious one, than what difference does any of your ranting make?

Uhhhh......

That would be none.

Thank you for playing, your consolation prize is through that door.

A Cuban and a Mexican? That is a sin!!!!

To: Vikingwarbrides

Marriage is dictated by Gd not man being "Religious or Civil!

http://answersfromthebook.org/2009/08/14/121/

Not opposed to same sex marriage.
I am opposed to letting illegals into this country.
If you loved your boy toy sooo much, why did you not start the process when you first met your sweetheart. Cry me a river and go live in Mexico.

What happens if the Supreme Court holds that DOMA is Constitutional???

Then nothing changes until DOMA is repealed.

We have lost focus on the main problems in our country and have become focused on issues. This country is projected to be 5th in the world economically by 2050 just 37 short years from now. Most of it from our own economy contracting rather than those other countries rapidly expanding. Where is the money going to come from to pay for all these government expenditures they are passing?

The will have to tax the crap out of the working class people now making 30k to 70k.

And if it is not repealed Steve???

Nothing changes.

The main issue the people have continued to not look at and the LGBT does not address is there is no gene that make you gay. Research after Research from top universities have proven this. So being gay is a choice and not a civil right so shut up and act live everyone else who has a choice on things that not asking for there choice to be law and taught.

Some of the people commenting here need to go elsewhere with their views. Leave gay people alone as far as their rights are concerned. How would all the Bible thumpers feel if I were to start judging their "lifestyle."

@Mcraig It doesn't matter if there is a gay gene or not. Its not right to deny gay people of their rights based on someone else's view. End of.

They make such a cute couple :)

To Stop the Hate-I saw the Westwing episode that your whole spiel was taken from. To the others: When you deny someone a "fundamental right" simply because of a characteristic that the person has no control over, you violate the constitution. If for instance, people with blue eyes were denied the right to marry, simply because they were born with blue eyes, would that be fair? The right to marry is a 'Fundamental right" see Loving v. Virginia, and neither your country nor your state should have any right to infringe upon that fundamental right (absent a compelling state interest that is "narrowly tailored" to advance that interest". The only compelling state and national interest advanced by DOMA is bigotry.

Its interesting the reactions in both viedos:

the first video on this blog has 500 views the second has almost 6,000.

In the second video there are no hate comments... Only in Miami

When did all these heterosexuals saying that being gay is a choice, choose to be straight?!

It is good news. I mean, it’s the new beginning for those happily married couple with the same sex. They should not be banned by their own country. Let's just respect them.

Wow this is a pretty interesting post. For sure this is a difficult subject morally speaking, I know that right now florida spousal visas are a sticky thing to deal with. I hope that everything gets worked out soon enough.

There are comments above that are just so harsh for this couple who are fighting for equality. Let us just support them because we don't know what might happen tomorrow.

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