Gita Deane and Lisa Polyak

Gita, 43, is a learning specialist at Goucher College. Lisa, 44, is an environmental engineer for the U.S. Army Medical Department. They live in Baltimore and have been together for 24 years. They are raising two daughters, ages six and nine.

Gita and Lisa met their freshman year at Trinity College in Washington, D.C. As a citizen of India, Gita was in the United States on a student visa. When they fell in love and wanted to build a life together, it was apparent immigration laws would force them apart. Had Lisa and Gita been recognized as spouses, they could easily have remained together. Because they couldn't marry, the couple embarked on a years-long odyssey to establish residency for Gita. There were many anxious moments — like a deportation notice and a tearful goodbye at JFK airport — when the distraught couple did not know if Gita would ever be able to return to the United States. Fortunately, Gita received a work sponsorship and was granted full U.S. citizenship in 1994. But Gita and Lisa want marriage rights to further protect their relationship and their children from other harms, and to ensure that no loving couple will have to be torn apart because of political borders.

The family attends Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, where both of Gita and Lisa's daughters were baptized. Gita and Lisa enjoy traveling together as a family. A favorite local pastime is taking their daughters to the zoo.