Our story: A gay couple, torn apart by DOMA
April 20, 2010
Posted in the DOMA Stories section on GLAD.com:
"Niles and Thiago da Silva met on a Sunday morning in 2002 at the Quincy Center T stop just outside of Boston. They struck up a conversation, had a lot to talk about, and agreed to get coffee together in Boston. Coffee turned into lunch, lunch turned into a hike, a hike turned into more coffee, which turned into dinner. They were engaged six months later and legally married in Massachusetts in 2004.
“'We knew from the beginning that we were soulmates,' says Thiago. 'We both found something in the other person that was special and different from any other person we had dated in the past.'
"Now, struggling to find a way to stay together before Thiago’s visa expires next year, it is one of the only things in their lives that is still certain.
"The federal government helps keep binational families together by letting U.S. citizens sponsor non-citizen spouses for a marriage-based 'green card,' which gives immigrant spouses permanent resident status. Green card holders aren’t U.S. citizens, but can get a Social Security number, can work, and can get a driver’s license.
"But Niles can’t sponsor Thiago for a green card any more than he could a stranger walking down the street. Because of DOMA the federal government sees them as strangers—not as a married couple together for nearly a decade. A green card simply isn’t an option for them. To stay together when Thiago’s visa expires next year they may be forced to leave the country.
“'If we were an opposite-sex couple Thiago could apply for a green card as my legal spouse—which he is. But in the eyes of the federal government he is no one to me,' says Niles. 'It makes me feel like my country doesn’t really care about me.'”