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Until the US government do us part: Gay couples await DOMA decision

Gay binational couples in New York City are hoping for a Supreme Court DOMA decision that will transform their lives.

Carlos Daniel Dos Santos, 45, is from Brazil, and unlike heterosexual spouses, his husband, James Oseland, 50, cannot apply for him to legally stay because federal law does not recognize same-sex marriage. Carlos Daniel Dos Santos, 45, is from Brazil, and unlike heterosexual spouses, his husband, James Oseland, 50, cannot apply for him to legally stay because federal law does not recognize same-sex marriage. Credit: Landon Nordeman

Carlos Daniel Dos Santos and James Oseland hope their lives will change overnight this summer.

The couple, married since 2011, are hoping the Supreme Court’s Defense of Marriage Act ruling will mean they can finally move out of the shadow they feel forced under.

“Our lives are on hold,” Dos Santos told Metro.

Dos Santos, 45, is from Brazil, and unlike heterosexual spouses, his husband, Oseland, 50, cannot apply for him to legally stay because federal law does not recognize same-sex marriage.

A Supreme Court decision, expected this summer, could change that, as could an alteration of the law under the immigration reform Congress is considering.

Robert Lassègue, 33, and Manuel Reyes, 35, are crossing their fingers.

Married in 2011 at City Hall after gay marriage was legalized in New York, they also face immigration hurdles, and other states do not recognize their marriage.

“I would like to ask straight couples, would they like to carry a license that’s only valid in one state?” Lassègue said.

Dos Santos and Oseland struggled with what to do when his visa expired, ultimately deciding to stay together in their Gramercy Park home.

“I could not conceive of finally finding the man of my dreams and then having to leave him behind,” Dos Santos said.

Now, everything from meeting families to finding jobs is affected – Dos Santos cannot visit relatives abroad or get a job because of his expired visa.

In other countries, like Dos Santos’ native Brazil, they could apply to legally stay within two months, he said.

But neither want to leave the city where they met and fell in love, and Oseland does not want to abandon his job as editor-in-chief of Saveur magazine.

"The suffering that we’ve gone through as a direct result of the United States government not having policies that address situations like ours, it’s unconscionable,” Oseland said.

For now, they take it day by day.

“I can at any moment be deported, so there’s really not much future-planning,” Dos Santos said.

Both await a federal decision, counseling each other on whether hopes should be high or hampered.

“It will happen,” Dos Santos says. “If it doesn’t happen now, we just keep on fighting. I don’t see any other way to go.”

Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @reporteralison

 
 
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