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Lesbian Couple Issued A ‘Fiance’ Visa Marries, After Ten Years Living Apart

by Jean Ann Esselink on January 5, 2014

in Families,International,Jean Ann Esselink,News

Post image for Lesbian Couple Issued A ‘Fiance’ Visa Marries, After Ten Years Living Apart

The changes to the American landscape since the Supreme Court eviscerated DOMA keep rumbling, like aftershocks to a major earthquake.

Shortly after the Supreme Court ruled, the American embassy in Manila issued this statement:

“Although same-sex marriage is not yet recognised in the Philippines, gay Americans are now able to petition for family-based visas on behalf of their Filipino spouses, fiancés, and their children.”

December 8, the U.S. embassy in the Philippines announced they had issued the first “fiance” visas to Filipinos with same-sex American partners.

cottermanThe first gay man to receive a visa was Noel “Aeinghel” Amaro, the trans partner of American serviceman Robert Cotterman. The couple (photo left) plan to marry later this month when Robert returns from his tour in Afghanistan.

The first lesbian woman was also awarded a “fiance” visa December 8. It went to Maria Cecilia Limson Gahuman, who has spent ten years in a long distance relationship with her American partner Carla Antonio, who met and fell in love with Maria when she visited the Philippines during her time in the Navy.

Last week, there was yet another “first” as Maria and Carla married in Santa Clara, California. That’s their wedding photo on the top of the page.

What struck me as even more promising than these couples’ change of fortune?

The embassy isn’t just issuing visas begrudgingly to the few who can hire a lawyer, or figure out how to use the system on their own. In the Philippines at least, the embassy is publicizing the post-DOMA changes, trying to reach out to people like Aeinghel and Maria proactively, releasing this statement:

“Overturning DOMA signifies that the US federal government must extend all federal rights and privileges of marriage to any married couple, regardless of sexual orientation. Currently, gay couples can marry in 16 of 50 American states, and the nation’s capital. This extension of rights includes immigration benefits.

In light of these changes, the American Embassy wants to educate gay Filipinos about new visa opportunities. Filipinos in same-sex relationships with Americans are encouraged to view the Visas section of the Embassy website at manila.usembassy.gov for more information.”

The aftershocks are shockingly good.

Here’s a news report from Filipino New Service TFCBalitangAmerica:

 

Maria and Carla via YouTube.
Robert and Aeinghel via Facebook

 

 

 

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{ 2 comments }

tgflux January 5, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Mazel Tov! :-)

Jo January 5, 2014 at 10:47 pm

I'm confused and somewhat concerned by your description of a trans woman as a "gay man." Is this how she identifies? I understand that she may be applying for a visa under "same sex" marriage rights, but I don't think that justifies erasing her identity as a woman. Maybe I'm misunderstanding the article, but if the person in question is a trans woman, it would be great if your piece could accurately reflect that without the unnecessary misgendering of her as a "gay man." If that's how she identifies, so be it. But otherwise? I expect better.

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