Cathy Davis has become the first foreign national to be issued a green card through marriage to Catriona Dowling, her same-sex American spouse
Cathy Davis, an Irish national was issued a Green Card on July 3 by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, based on her marriage to Catriona Dowling, making Cathy the first immigrant to become a permanent resident in the U.S. through her marriage to a same-sex spouse.
Catriona and Cathy met in Nepal while hiking the Himalayas in 2006 and it was love at first sight. Both grew up in Ireland, only one town away from one another. Cathy began visiting Catriona intermittently from Ireland, always having to return, because of the limitations of visitor visas.
Cathy eventually sought employment as a registered nurse in the U.S. and was sponsored by an employer in Texas, but was ultimately denied a work visa to remain in America.
Because their family situation became so tenuous, Catriona and Cathy joined The DOMA Project in June 2012 when they filed a green card petition, to prevent their family from being torn apart again.
The couple had a green card interview with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in January 2013. The immigration officer who conducted the interview told them that if they had been a heterosexual couple, they would have been approved because of their extensive documentation. Lavi Soloway, a co-founder of The DOMA Project, convinced the official not to deny their petition application, but to put it on hold.
The couple had scheduled an appointment on July 3rd with the Immigration Service, following up on Secretary Janet Napolitano’s public statement indicating that the government would act quickly, following the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on June 26th.
When they were called to the window at 10:55 a.m., they were informed by the supervisor that Cathy had been approved and the green card would be mailed to her. She can also apply for American citizenship on July 3, 2016.
“When we’re asked why we took this route and fought for this green card with the help of The DOMA Project,” said Catriona, ”we say family is worth fighting for, and our family deserves the same rights as all over families, it’s that simple. It doesn’t take courage to fight for your family, it’s a responsibility.”
Listen to Cathy and Catriona talk about their journey to unite their family in Denver.
“Seven days after the Supreme Court struck down DOMA, a green card has been issued to Cathy Davis, ” said Lavi Soloway, legal counsel to Davis and Dowling. ”She is the first same-sex spouse of an American citizen ever to receive a green card, and as such she will forever occupy an important place in the history of our civil rights movement.
“By issuing a green card to Cathy on the basis of her marriage to Catriona, the U.S. government is finally recognizing the inherent dignity of this family and giving tangible meaning to Justice Kennedy’s ruling.”
Since The DOMA Project was founded in 2010 by attorneys Lavi Soloway and Noemi Masliah, they have filed almost 100 green card petitions for same-sex couples affected by DOMA. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that it will soon issue guidance for all DOMA related immigration cases.
Congratulations to Catriona Dowling and Cathy Davis and their family! And congratulations to Lavi Soloway and Noemi Masilah for their ground breaking work via The DOMA Project!
Tanya L. Domi is the Deputy Editor of the New Civil Rights Movement. She is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and teaches human rights in East Central Europe and former Yugoslavia. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi was a nationally recognized LGBT civil rights activist who worked for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force during the campaign to lift the military ban in the early 1990s. Domi has also worked internationally in a dozen countries on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights and gender issues. She is chair of the board of directors for GetEQUAL. Domi is currently writing a book about the emerging LGBT human rights movement in the Western Balkans.
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