The Impact of the Supreme Court’s Rulings on Us

Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled on two cases about equality of marriage for same-sex couples. Many friends have asked how those rulings will impact Tawn and me, especially the ruling in United States vs. Windsor, which found Part 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional.

Tawn and I were married in Iowa almost four years ago and have lived in Thailand for more than seven years. We chose to live here for a variety of reasons, the biggest of which was that there was no practicable way for him to stay in the United States after completing his master’s degree.

The first state to provide same-sex marriage was Massachusetts in late 2003, so we had the option of getting married. But because of DOMA, the federal government would not recognize our marriage.

This is because immigration is one of the more than 1,100 federal statutes that use marital status to determine rights, benefits, and privileges. Because of DOMA, the federal government would not recognize our marriage so I could not sponsor Tawn’s immigration as my spouse.

Impact of the DOMA Ruling

Now that Part 3 of DOMA has been ruled unconstitutional (Part 2, which excuses states from having to recognize same-sex marriages that are conducted in other states, still stands), the door is open for me to sponsor Tawn, should we want to move back to the United States.

This would make immigration relatively painless and he could be in the United States and able to work within about 90 days. Spouse visas are expedited and are not subject to country-based quotas like other types of immigration visas.

When are we moving back to the United States? The answer is, no time soon. There were many secondary reasons for moving to Thailand and now that Tawn has a one-year old fashion design business and my US-based employer severed my employment after I declined their request to relocate to Atlanta, there is greater gravity holding us in Thailand. 

We will probably return to the United States some day, perhaps splitting our time between the two countries. But right now, it is enough to know that we have the right to return, when we choose to do so.

Posing with my grandparents in Kansas City this spring.

Impact of the Proposition 8 Ruling

With regards to the second Supreme Court ruling, on the case of Hollingsworth vs. Perry, this case does not directly affect us. The case asked whether California’s Proposition 8, which halted same-sex marriage, was constitutional.

The Supreme Court determined that the Proposition 8 supporters did not have the legal standing to appeal the lower court’s decision when the state government declined to appeal the case. This effectively resulted in Proposition 8 being invalidated and same-sex marriages resumed in California Friday afternoon.

The only effect that this case would have on us is if we moved back to California. It would ensure that our marriage, performed outside of California, would be recognized by the state government.

I want to give a quick thank you to all of the friends and family members who supported us and the larger fight for marriage equality. I especially want to thank our straight allies, people who proudly spoke up for equality even though it wasn’t directly their fight.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “None of us are free until all of us are free.”


25 thoughts on “The Impact of the Supreme Court’s Rulings on Us

  1. I think that this is a great step forward for all of us and makes me happy for all 0f my gay friends. I hope that seeing more happily married gay couples will help more people realize that is is more “normal” than they used to think!

  2. it’s so complicated for ya’all. It’s not going to take anything away from us straight people.My little sister is 53yrs old and not long ago she asked me why do people hate the gays so much? I said,”they think they are the same as child molesters.” She said,”that is terrible but now I understand the hate.” We have family and friends who are gay and lesbians and love them.

  3. Congradulations, it is due for a long time, at least now you and Tawn have the choice. You are more happily married than several of my straight married couples. May be you can instruct them the best practices of staying happily married. 🙂

  4. I had someone mutter to me that this was a “victory” for the *#%* liberals. I was able to retort that it was a victory for everyone since no one is free until all are free. Little did I know I was quoting Dr. King! Choice is what everyone wants and I’m so glad you now have more choices!

  5. I’m glad for you that you’ll have the choice to come back when or if you decide you want to. I can’t imagine how frustrating it would be to be a married ex-pat, an American, and not be able to bring your spouse to the states and sponsor his/her citizenship. Congratulations.

  6. I’m delighted that the two decisions have provided you with the choices everybody deserves, Chris.  I’m a little saddened that the Prop 8 decision was actually a series of non-decisions, and hope that will not affect the future of the initiative process in CA — but at least the lack of decision had the right end result!

  7. Congrats! I was pleasantly surprised when the higher court overturned DOMA, because given some of their decisions in the past (including overturning parts of the Voter Rights Acts the day before), I expected them to uphold the law.

  8. It’s admirable that you chose to move to another country for Tawn.Immigrating to another location is always a scary move.Whether you stay or not, I think you two will be fine, as long as you have each other 🙂

  9. Lovely family photo. I can see the love in everyone’s smile. I’m glad you and Tawn are where you want to be…in life, marriage or geographical design.

  10. I was really happy with the decision, and I think I already commented about that on your previous blog.I think it would be a good idea if you can start the immigration files for Tawn.Once he has the green card, then he and you can travel any time without any problem. You both come into the states a couple of years anyway, so getting the alien registration card soon will be beneficial, regardless of when you permanently move.Just my two cents worth.

  11. This court decision is a great step forward out of the dark ages and into the light. Unfortunately the court’s decision the day before on voter rights is a step backward and already Texas, Alabama, Virginia and a couple other southern States are working on reinstating voter suppression laws that will hurt minorities and students by making it more difficult for these groups to vote. The battles for equality continue.

  12. I am so happy that there’s now the choice and I’m so happy for the two of you. This was a really great post and I learnt a thing or two from it – it has really made me think about equality and how it’s still a big work-in-progress.

  13. The govt. should have no business managing social contracts between two (or more) consenting adults. They can’t even manage their own (taxpayers) budget, for cryin out loud. I’m glad y’all can live where you please.

  14. @Kellsbella – Thanks and I completely agree. Government has no place in the bedroom… that’s just too kinky.@gasdoc73 – Thanks for the props!@stepaside_loser – Also still a work in progress down under, no?@TheSutraDude – I found it very funny that Justice Scalia, in his decent in the Windsor case, blasted the majority for upending the will of Congress, when as part of the majority the day before, he did exactly the same thing! Hypocrite.@ZSA_MD – Unfortunately, we can’t apply for immigration unless we actually intend to live in the US. While once he has a green card, he would be able to exit and enter the country without restriction, he would still have to demonstrate that the US is his primary place of residence and employment.@armnatmom – I always figure you need to be at peace wherever you are, otherwise you will be forever unhappy.@KevEats – There are times when I kind of forget just how big of a deal it was to move halfway around the world for this relationship.@Super_Rob_of_the_Sky – Yeah, the Roberts court has been hard to read. Justice Kennedy seems to enjoy being the swing vote!@slmret – Well, in some ways it actually was a strong win because it lets stand District Court Vaughn Walker’s 2010 decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger that Prop 8 violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment. Good legal framework for future legal challenges to equality of marriage cases.@n_e_i_l – Another step on a much longer journey.@ordinarybutloud – Yes, the frustration of not having that right has been like a pebble in my shoe, until now a ceaseless agitation.@murisopsis – Dr. King’s quote is one I think many people can really relate to. I always find it funny when people use “liberal” as a pejorative, considering the founders of our nation were all about protecting civil liberties.@stevew918 – Well, I certainly don’t want to get to the point of being held up as any sort of a model couple. All couples face their challenges but certainly the DOMA ruling helps strengthen the institution of marriage.@Texasjillcarmel – Always struck me as odd how people would associate homosexuality with child molestation, considering that more than 90% of child molesters identify as heterosexual.@whyzat – It really is a case of familiarity driving normalization. Hey, I used to find it a bit strange to see same-sex couples getting married, and I’m gay! It is something we will all get used to once we realize it isn’t that big of a deal. Reminds me of a story of a gay couple who moved to suburbia. The first six months or so, the neighbors kind of kept their distance. Eventually, one neighbor came over an introduced himself and said, “Well, we’ve been watching y’all for months and have decided you are just as boring as the rest of us.” =D@ClimbUpTreesToLookForFish – Thank you!

  15. @TheSutraDude – Exactly. You know he’s a smart guy but it really seems like he is driven by ideology rather than legal analysis. Of course, I suppose people from his side of the issues see things exactly opposite and consider the liberal wing of the court to be ideological!

  16. @christao408 – It brings into question how we define “smart”. I don’t care how many degrees a person has if the person cannot put 2+2 together and come up with 4. If a person cannot see or accept that facts do not support an ideology and then have the intellectual courage to move away from that ideology, smart has not yet been achieved in my opinion.

  17. i’m happy for you and tawn and the possibility that you may be sponsoring him in the future when you both ready to move back to the states. it’s about time you both have the option and opportunity. i’m excited for you two. you both are inspirational and provide a glimpse of hope for many single gays out there. me included.

  18. I was extremely happy to wake up to see all the Facebook statuses about the rulings.Even more happy when I was catching up on what I missed, while sleeping, on Google NewsAnd when I saw you repost the picture of you and Tawn getting married?, I was excited by the idea that it could be me and ❤ in the state that I grew up and love.Congrats :]I hope you had a grand celebration.

  19. Pingback: Ever Thought About Moving Back? | christao408

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