The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

July 2, 2013

Lawyer: Gay couple in Fla. 1st to win petition for path to green card

(Continued)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. —

There are roughly 36,000 couples in the country in which one person is a U.S. citizen and one is not, according to Immigration Equality, a nonprofit organization that handles immigration issues for lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender couples.

In the first three days after DOMA was struck down, the group received 1,276 inquiries to its legal hotline — roughly the same number they received in all of 2012.

"We are still getting more volume and expect by the end of July to be around 3,000," said Rachel B. Tiven, the group's executive director.

The Supreme Court ruling is clear for same-sex couples who live in the 13 states that allow same-sex marriages, but for couples like Marsh and Popov who traveled to another state to get married, the latest victory for marriage equality is bittersweet.

"We would like our marriage to be recognized even in a state where it wasn't performed in," Popov said. "We want civil recognition."

Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2008 banning same-sex marriages, and it will take approval from 60 percent of voters to overturn it if the issue is put on the ballot again.

The couple said they met in 2011 at a friend's party and began dating shortly after.

"We just really liked each other and I knew this was the man I wanted to be with," Marsh said. Six months later, he asked Popov to move in and by 2012 they were married in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Popov, who is studying for a master's degree in social sciences, was able to remain in the U.S. as long as he was enrolled in school. When he graduated, though, he would have had to leave the country if DOMA was not struck down.

"I wanted to stay with him forever in the country that we chose to be in," Marsh said. And the pair began planning their next move — both have a European background and Marsh is also a Canadian citizen.

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