By: Julie Montanaro
June 27, 2013
Tallahassee, FL - Wednesday's Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage may have prompted a rush to the courthouse-- and the immigration office.
The ruling which now makes federal benefits available to legally married gay couples could be life-changing for a lesbian couple in Tallahassee.
"It's not what I was expecting in life, you know... "
Heather Grant and Cindy Elliot fell in love on line even though they lived 8,000 miles and an ocean apart. Grant moved to the United States from South Africa in 2011. The two were married in New York in March 2012 and Grant has faced deportation twice.
Heather Grant, applying for green card: "I can't explain the relief ... "
Wednesday's supreme court ruling means Grant can now apply for a green card.
Heather Grant: "It was like a dream come true. An absolute fairy tale ending honestly because we've been in limbo for so long."
Cindy Elliot, Heather Grant's partner: "I think it's about time, you know. I mean equality I think is where we are right now. So it's a huge decision, historic."
The Supreme Court's ruling striking down portions of the Defense of Marriage Act means U.S. citizens like Cindy-- who was born and raised in Tallahassee-- can sponsor their spouses just like straight Americans can.
Elizabeth Ricci, Immigration Attorney: "These cases will go through the same scrutiny as other cases. The couples will be interviewed to be sure it was a legitimate marriage, that it was not entered into solely to get the green card."
Cindy and Heather says the impact of the ruling is slowly sinking in, and the fear of deportation is fading...They plan to file papers Friday that would allow Heather to live and work in the states for two years-- and seek citizenship in three.
The rulings on DOMA and California's Prop 8 have polarized the country with opponents saying they fly in the face of Biblical teachings of cultural traditions.
Gay marriage was a point of contention in the Congressional debate over sweeping immigration reforms. Those reforms passed the Senate this afternoon and will now head to the House.
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