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Lesbian married in the US faces deportation to Pakistan

US Senator John Kerry appeals to Department of Homeland Security on the couple's behalf
Jackie and Gloria face deportation despite being married.

A binational lesbian couple married in the state of Massachusetts is grappling with possible deportation.

Gloria and Jacquelyn, whose surnames are ommitted for security reasons, risk deportation from the United States because Jacquelyn can't legally sponsor Gloria's visa.

Though the state of Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage in 2004, the Defense of Marriage Act passed in 1996 mandates that federal law only recognize the marriage rights between a man and a woman.  

Former presidential candidate in the 2004 election and Massachusetts senator John Kerry has written to the Department of Homeland Security in defense of Gloria and Jacquelyn, who married in Beverly, Massachusetts in October 2011. 

Kerry's letter addressed to Janet Napolitano, the US Secretary of Homeland Security, requests that the couple's petition be put on hold until the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is repealed.

The Department of Homeland Security has rejected Jacquelyn's petition to sponsor Gloria through a marriage-based visa.

Kerry wrote of Gloria: 'She is certain that if she is forced to return to Pakistan, her life will be in danger, not only because of her sexual orientation and her marriage to a United States citizen, but for religious reasons as well.'

The last names of the women, Gloria and Jacquelyn, are not published to protect their security should Gloria be forced to return to Pakistan. The couple fears for Gloria's safety since homosexuality is illegal in Pakistan.

The women have said an an interview that they were brought together by their Christian faith when they met in college. Gloria stopped attending university last year when she could no longer afford tuition. She lost her student visa and was informed she would be deported.

'No other citizen who falls in love and marries a citizen of Pakistan would be discriminated against in this fashion,' said Lavi Soloway, the couple's lawyer and cofounder of a group called Stop the Deportations.

'They should not be put through this wringer. Both are 24 years old. They are young women; they should have the same opportunity to fulfill their hopes and dreams as all other couples'.

Last year, President Obama announced DOMA was unconstitutional but that the law would still be held in court. Since then, John Kerry has led a group of 12 senators petitioning to the Obama administration that the green card-based petitions of binational gay and lesbian couples who faced deportation be suspended until DOMA is repealed. 

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