Bulgarian grad student Traian Popov and his American husband Julian Marsh are the first binational same-sex couple to have their green card petition approved, a milestone for gay marriage rights in the US.
The Fort Lauderdale, Fl. couple received an e-mail notice Friday night that Popov's permanent visa had been approved — a sign that Obama's administration is working quickly to implement policy changes following the Supreme Court's ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.
"We are ecstatic that our country recognizes our marriage," Marsh told the Miami Herald. "I never doubted the Supreme Court would not overturn DOMA. Ever. It was in my mind impossible that anybody could stop love."
“We recognized back then that when Tray [Traian] graduates we might have to leave our home and our country," Marsh said. "We were willing to do that. We were planning on doing that. We were discussing where to move to. Thanks to the Supreme Court we can stay in our home now. We can be in the country that we love."
Marsh, 55, works as a music producer, and Popov, 41, is earning his PhD in conflicts analysis and resolution at Nova Southeastern University, ABC News reported. They were celebrating Marsh's birthday when they got the news that the visa application had gone through.
However, the couple still faces hurdles. Popov will not be allowed to work or visit his family for six months, and the pair's marriage — performed in New York, which legalized same-sex marriages in July 2011 — is still not recognized in Florida, where they live.
"It’s unbelievable how that impacts you," Marsh said in an interview with The Associated Press. "They make you feel more and more like a second-class citizen and they don’t want you. And that’s how I feel about Florida."
However, their immigration lawyer said he hopes that the couple's situation will inspire a push for greater marriage equality in the state.
“That new reality changes the perspective of a lot of Floridians who probably never gave a thought to marriage equality,” said Lavi Soloway, who co-founded the DOMA Project for gay and lesbian binational couples.
United States Immigration and Citizenship Services said they planned to announce new procedures for gay binational couples seeking green cards early this week, and will reverse denials of same-sex couples green cards that occurred before DOMA was struck down, the New York Times reported.
Same-sex couples whose applications were denied will not have to submit new applications, and will move through the system at the same pace as straight couples.
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