BEVERLY (CBS) – A Beverly couple met in college, fell in love, and got married. One isn’t a United States citizen.
This wouldn’t be a problem for most couples, but for Jackie and Gloria, the situation is dangerous.
“It’s very unfair. It’s unjust. It’s almost to the point it’s cruel,” said Gloria, who doesn’t want her last name known for fear of her safety.
Read: Kerry’s Letter (.pdf)
The 24-year-old is a native of Pakistan, a country known to be unkind to homosexuals, particularly homosexual women.
“I feel much more American than Pakistani. Whatever I’ve built of my own identity is here. I’ve never experienced my own decision making there,” said Gloria.
That includes the big decision she made in October of last year, to marry her college sweetheart Jackie. Had Jackie married a Pakistani man, she could have sponsored him for United States citizenship. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) signed in 1996 makes that impossible for same-sex couples, even if they are legally married.
“As an American, I want to be able to have all the rights I was born with and for me not to be able to sponsor her is heartbreaking,” said Jackie.
Gloria works as a home health aide and is a law abiding resident. But, she is unable to continue enrollment in college courses because of the cost of international tuition.
Her school recently sent notice that her student VISA will be revoked. She could be deported at any time.
The couple reached out to a group, Stop the Deportations, to get help from a lawyer and share their story.
They have also been in touch with Senator John Kerry’s office. The former presidential nominee wrote a letter to the Department of Homeland Security on their behalf. In it, Kerry asks Secretary Janet Napolitano to delay any decisions on Gloria’s immigration status until a federal appeals court decides the constitutionality of DOMA.
For Jackie and Gloria, the decision could be as serious as life or death.
“It’s very cultural. I fear for the safety of my family still living in Pakistan and it would be even worse if I was sent back,” said Gloria.