U.S. Embassy In Manila, Phillippines Issues Its First Fiancé Visa For A Gay Couple
Signs of progress in the Philippines today, where the U.S. Embassy in Manila has issued its first fiancé visa to a gay couple. Though the country does not yet recognize same-sex marriage, the move by the U.S. Embassy allows gay Americans to petition for the recognition of their Filipino spouses and children.
This change comes months after a momentous decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, which struck down the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Overturning DOMA signifies that the U.S. 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. Noel “Aeinghel” Amaro and Robert Cotterman were the first gay couple in the Philippines to receive a fiancé visa. Cotterman serves in the U.S. military and is scheduled to return from a tour in Afghanistan in January 2014. The two met online and will be married January 2014 in the United States.
Maria Cecilia Limson Gahuman and Maria Carla Antonio also received a fiancé visa. The couple met through a mutual friend over a decade ago. Because Maria Limson Gahuman is Filipina, and Maria Antonia is American, however, there was no way for the couple to be together. With their fiancé visa, the couple will transition their their ten-year relationship from long-distance to marriage [i1] in California on December 30, 2013.