While the North Carolina may best be known to the gay and lesbian community for the extremely discriminatory constitutional amendment that was passed in 2012; an amendment that bars recognition of not only marriage between same-sex couples but also civil unions, The DOMA project shows us that there is some good news coming out of the Tar Heel State.
The DOMA Project participants, Becky and Sanne had been on the forefront of the fight for equality, filing for a green card last year and telling their story in print and on screen. Just before Mother’s Day Becky and Sanne had learned that the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) rejected the denial of the marriage-based green card petition they had filed last year. The BIA sent the case back to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Field Office in Charlotte, North Carolina for further processing with orders to conduct complete fact-finding, including an interview, to determine whether they would be eligible for a green card if not for Section 3 of DOMA. Today, in the post-DOMA reality for which they so visibly and zealously advocated, Becky and Sanne finally had their long-awaited interview with the USCIS Charlotte office.
At the conclusion of the interview, the USCIS Officer announced with a smile that Sanne was now a lawful permanent resident of the United States, and Becky and Sanne shared a hug and tears of joy. Just 75 minutes after the interview began, USCIS ordered production of the actual green card which is expected to come by mail the next week. The USCIS Officer made the extraordinary gesture of placing into Sanne’s passport a red stamp, indicating that she was a “Lawful Permanent Resident” secured by the official seal of the USCIS in order to facilitate her need to renew her expired driver’s license and “get on with her life” without further delay. As Becky and Sanne parted ways with their attorney at the Charlotte airport a few minutes ago, there were hugs and more tears. “We did it!” they all seemed to say in unison.
A lot of folks would ask of this couple why even live in North Carolina. The women answer the question simply in their DOMA Project Video.
“Ashville, North Carolina is where we experience our community, our home and our connection to the mountains.” and “It’s important to advocate for the world we wish to live in.”
It’s not enough just to move to a place with equality, we all want to live in a place with equality. Whether that place be New York City, Sacramento California or Clanton, Alabama. We want to live where we fell most at home; where we feel most connected. And if home doesn’t welcome us because of a law, it’s important that we work to change that so home, wherever it may be, can become welcoming to future folks.