Bi-national same sex couples celebrate DOMA decision

Posted at: 06/26/2013 11:21 PM
By: Lynette Adams

One aspect of the Supreme Court's ruling on the Defense Of Marriage Act you might not think about, is bi-national couples.  For years, a Penfield couple paid for one of them to go to college, taking classes one of them didn't need, so they could stay together.

Wednesday's decision means people like Judi McDougall and her wife Sue Goodrich may now be able to stay together in the United States. This ruling will allow McDougall to get a green card, something not even her marital status could help, until now.

“I've been in college for 8 years to try and stay with her.”

Judi McDougall and Sue Goodrich have done everything they could legally to keep McDougall, a British citizen, in the United States. As long as she's a college student, she's been able to stay.

“Its been a huge thing. we've been under the threat of deportation, having to pay humongous bills for me to stay in college taking classes I don't necessarily need,” said McDougall.

The Penfield couple was legally married two years ago, however, under the Defense Of Marriage Act, Goodrich couldn't sponsor McDougall to become a U.S. Citizen. It was a privilege just for heterosexual couples, until today.

“The school; that she attends told her she had one more year, and then we were looking at what do we do, what country do we go to, what are we faced with,” said Goodrich.

Lynette Adams asked, “You were going to have to decide between the love of your life and your children?”

“Yes, and I can't make that decision. It's not fair to me to have to decide between the two of them because they are equally important to me and I can't do that, and this saves me from an impossible decision,” said Goodrich.

Its estimated that in about 36,000 same sex couples in the U.S., one partner is not a U.S. citizen. The person who is a citizen will now be able to sponsor their partners who apply for a green card.

Kaelyn Rich, who heads the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says this is a big problem. She knows of a number of cases where couples have been forced to move out of the U.S., or live separately in two different countries, because of DOMA.