DOMA, Creating Expatriates Since 1996

DepartIn a matter of weeks the Supreme Court will hear cases about the constitutionality of hetero-only marriage laws. Those laws include DOMA, which prohibits foreign halves of binational same-sex couples from obtaining permanent residency, even if they're married here.

Some couples and their families are torn apart, and other Americans are forced to find homes abroad. Brandon Perlberg, a lawyer, is among the latter. He's an expatriate by force, and now lives in London with his partner, a graphic designer named Benn Robert Storey.

The New York Times shares part of their story:

…The end of Mr. Storey's temporary visas was approaching. Because he does not have an advanced degree in a technical profession, lawyers advised them that Mr. Storey's chances of gaining a green card based on his employment were very slim.

The uncertainty of Mr. Storey's immigration future became "a dark cloud that hung over our relationship," Mr. Perlberg said. In July 2011, same-sex marriage became legal in New York State. But under the federal marriage law, Mr. Storey still would not have been eligible for a green card as a spouse.

When immigration also became a volatile issue in Britain, they decided
to move quickly, fearing that they might not be able to live in either

Hopefully the moderate and conservative justices reading this and other such stories see not only the emotional side, but the economic side at stake: who knows how many other talented same-sex couples will flee the US' discriminatory marriage laws?


  1. TomTallis says

    We’re ready to go. My husband is here on an O-1 visa that has to be renewed every year and every year the requirements get tighter and tighter (and the cost gets higher and higher). One of these years they’re going to turn down his application and we’ll end up moving lock stock and barrel to a major city in central Europe.

  2. George F says

    As part of a binational couple I can attest how harmful DOMA is…
    We can only dream for the day when my boyfriend and I can be legally recognized in the US as civil husbands. When will that happen? I have no idea…

  3. James says

    Well, gay Americans are the ones who are allowing this to happen? They should stick up for themselves more. America is the only “civilized” country that allows their people to be treated this way, in this day in age.

  4. Brian and Gavern says

    We feel their pain, but trust me it gets much much worse for many of us. Some of us are not lucky enough to have the right to work in any other country or to even be ‘legal’. Some of us have had our families almost completely destroyed by DOMA and have lost our homes trying to pay to legally defend our right to be together, some of us went from successful careers and lives in our homes in the US to being homeless and surviving on the hand outs from charities like St. Vincent De Paul, as we go from country to country seeking Exile and trying everything imaginable to try and get some sort of temporary ‘status’ overseas while we wait for DOMA to die. Some of us have not seen our family for years and some of us have become seriously ill because of the horrendous stress (5 years now) that DOMA has caused, some of us get spat out by bureaucracy in the system by senators and lawyer after lawyer after lawyer that takes us for a ride and drops us at the last minute. Some of us have lost family whilst being in exile, have missed important dates, birthdays, Christmases, some of us have watched our spouses go from breakdown to breakdown to breakdown until there’s really very little much for them to hold on to, emotionally and physically wilted and damaged, some of us have aged 10 years in 1 year because of Doma…shall I continue? People have no idea.

  5. Francis says

    Brian and Gavern, your story brought a tear to my eye. Incredible. The stories I read, anyone can read, regarding DOMA, are unreal. Absolutely unreal the amount of destruction hundreds of thousands of couples are currently going through. And it’s all because they are same-sex couples. What a national disgrace.

  6. Franck says

    James – Should we stick to dating the opposite sex too? It would certainly make things much more easier, at least on the legal side, right?

    Trying hard to convince my partner to move abroad here. After over five years and a half of living apart from each other, waiting for the permission to finally live together, I certainly think that we have a better chance here in my own backwards country than in “civilized” America.

  7. kujhawker says

    Can I move to NZ to be with my partner yes I can. But when both me and my partner want to live in the U.S. and we see better opportunities for us here, it sucks that the only why I see him is his occasional tourist visits or moving there.

  8. Michaelandfred says

    7 years ago we (I) finally, after being 20+ years abroad, moved back here together. We bought and renovated a historic property, opened a business, employ people, quite frankly, do nothing but pump moment into the system and pay taxes. We’ve been put on notice. Our 26 years together, our marriage in two separate countries, the money we have already and continue to pump into my homeland…..mean nothing. During the financial crisis, while others business’s went under, we stayed afloat and kept our workers, but we’re not making “enough.” Not to satisfy the “new requirements”, whatever those are, to extend his visa.

    It seems he’s not welcome. We’re not welcome. If DOMA doesn’t fall, this time next year we’ll be back in Europe. Land of the Free my ass……

  9. AWG says

    Adding insult to injury, exiled Americans are still forced to file and pay US Federal income taxes on the earnings they receive while in exile (if you exceed certain thresholds). I have personally been compelled to pay over US$250,000 in US Federal income taxes during my years in exile living with my partner. So, the injustice just keeps piling up.
    My recommendation to exiled bi-national couples (who are in a long-term, stable relationship); play the US at its own game. They consider you & your partner as strangers. Fine. Where possible put all income & investments in the name of your non-US partner…that keeps it away from the IRS and avoids you from having to contribute to this cruel, unfair and immoral system

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