Six months after their nuptials, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security denied Zavala a green card under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced that DOMA denied thousands of legally married same-sex couples many important federal benefits, including immigration benefits. ... Working with our federal partners, including the Department of Justice, we will implement todays decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of our immigration laws."
Ruiz and Zavalas original immigration denial likely will be reversed, said the mens attorney, Lavi Soloway, who specializes in same-sex immigration cases.
"Its very clear. Not ambiguous at all. If you are in a marriage thats valid under the laws in the jurisdiction in which the marriage took place, that it will be recognized as a valid marriage for immigration purposes, regardless of whether it is recognized under the laws of the state in which you reside," Soloway said.
Even though the future is unclear, the Supreme Courts announcement on Wednesday fueled emotions from supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage throughout Florida.
Its an amazing feeling and the overall sentiment is the validation of our relationship, said Juan Talavera of Miami, in a 13-year relationship with partner Jeff Ronci, who wept when the ruling was announced.
The statement that justice and equality prevails is dear to my heart, Talavera said. Thats what resonates in this decision.
Pastor Jack Hakimian of Impact Miami church in North Miami voiced displeasure with the five justices who sided against religious conservatives.
I definitely am disappointed by their inability to see marriage from a traditional perspective, to put limits on what it means, Hakimian said. It ultimately opens a can of worms in future generations as to what ultimately defines marriage.
John Stemberger, the Orlando lawyer who led the Amendment 2 campaign and is president of the Florida Family Policy Council, said the court ruling has no impact whatsoever in Florida.
It doesnt affect the marriage amendment at all, he said, adding that the Supreme Court could have found a new right to same-sex marriage in the equal protection clause and could have imposed around the country a single standard and invalidated every DOMA and state marriage amendment.
In Wilton Manors, the heart of Broward Countys large gay community, many gathered Wednesday morning at spots along Wilton Drive.
Paul Hogan and Bill Sullivan have been together for more than three decades. They met while working for U.S. senators in Washington, D.C. (Hogan for Bob Graham and Sullivan for George Mitchell) and ultimately got married on Election Day 2012 in Washington D.C.
"Its unconstitutional! Hello-o!" cheered Hogan who threw his hands up in the air and yelled Mazel Tov.
Miami Herald staff writers Amy Sherman, Mary Ellen Klas and Shadi Bushra, and Steve Bousquet of Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau contributed to this report.