For Julio Alegria and his husband Michael Penn, the date of June 26, 2013 will forever be etched in their hearts.
On that day, by a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal Defense of the Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, was unconstitutional.
“(Our lives) changed so much,” Alegria told Fox News Latino. “It’s something so beautiful what you feel when they tell you you are welcome in this country… It’s an amazing feeling.”
The DOMA decision – also known as the Windsor decision – gave married gay and lesbian couples the same federal rights as other married couples. It also gave couples like Alegria and Penn something else: a chance at permanent legal residency in the United States. Alegria, a Mexican on a student visa, had fallen in love and wanted to marry his American partner so he could stay in the U.S. — but he wasn't able to do so before DOMA.
While proponents of gay marriage have been winning court victories in state after state, one part of the ruling quietly gaining momentum and generating controversy is that many gays are now able to qualify for legal residency if they marry their same-sex partner.
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