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First Filipino-American lesbian couple to receive same-sex fiancé visa weds in the US

Following the US Supreme Court’s decision which struck down the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, gay Filipinos with American partners can now apply for a fiancé visa to marry in the US
Newlyweds Carla Antonio and Maria Cecilia Limson Gahuman (right)
Photo: Screenshot from Youtube video

Maria Cecilia Limson Gahuman, who is the first Filipino woman to receive a same-sex fiancé visa from the United States Embassy in Manila, married Carla Antonio – her American partner of 10 years – in a ceremony held at the Freedom Hall in Santa Clara, California last December 30.

On December 2, 2013, the United States Embassy in the Philippines announced on its website that the “first gay couple in the Philippines to receive a fiancé visa” is Noel “Aeinghel” Amaro and Robert Cotterman.

In an article published on March 2013 in a local LGBT magazine, the pair discussed their relationship with Amaro being a transgender woman.

Cotterman serves in the US military and is scheduled to return from a tour in Afghanistan in January 2014 after which the couple will be married this month in the US.

The US Embassy said in the statement: “Although same-sex marriage is not yet recognised in the Philippines, gay Americans are now able to petition for family-based visas on behalf of their Filipino spouses, fiancés, and their children.”

The same-sex visa policy change follows a momentous decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, which struck down the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

It added: "Overturning DOMA signifies that the US federal government must extend all federal rights and privileges of marriage to any married couple, regardless of sexual orientation. Currently, gay couples can marry in 16 of 50 American states, and the nation’s capital. This extension of rights includes immigration benefits.

“In light of these changes, the American Embassy wants to educate gay Filipinos about new visa opportunities. Filipinos in same-sex relationships with Americans are encouraged to view the Visas section of the Embassy website at manila.usembassy.gov for more information.”

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