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NY Daily News: Newlywed Lesbians from Brooklyn Hope Feds Decide on Green Card Bid After Court Weighs In on DOMA

by Erica Pearson | New York Daily News

Two newlywed lesbians from Brooklyn are hoping the feds wait to consider their bid for a green card until after the Supreme Court weighs in on the Defense of Marriage Act.

The act currently denies same-sex couples federal benefits — including immigration options like a green card for a spouse or a visa for a fiance. However, the high court decided this month to hear a DOMA case and is set to rule on it by early this summer.

This week, more than 50 gay-rights and immigrant advocacy groups sent a letter to the White House asking for all gay couples’ green card applications to be put on hold until the ruling.

For Williamsburg filmmaker Adi Lavy and her Israeli wife Tzila Levy, it is especially important that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services allow Levy to stay here legally while they wait for a green card: Lavy has kidney disease and is on a New York waiting list for a donor.

“We’re really optimistic,” Lavy, 34 said. “It just feels right. I want to feel good living here – I don’t want to feel like a second-rate citizen.”

The pair met in 2010 in Tel Aviv, where Lavy was working on a film, and fell in love at a Purim costume party – Lavy was dressed as a pirate and Levy, who is a screenwriter, as a musketeer. Months later, doctors told Lavy her kidney condition was worsening and that she should return to the states, where transplants are more common.

“When I realized I needed to be here, it was pretty obvious that Tzila would join me. It wasn’t an option for me to come without Tzila,” Lavy said.

“We had a strong bond,” said Levy, 33. “I did not want to leave her.”

They wed on the Williamsburg Bridge in October – in a joyful ceremony complete with a wedding parade and marching band – and applied for a green card before Levy’s tourist visa expired on Dec. 4.

“For families like Adi and Tzila, who are sort of running out of options, when a spousal petition is held it has some benefits. It keeps Tzila here in lawful status and allows her to move forward with work and travel,” said their lawyer, Tom Plummer, from the advocacy group Immigration Equality.

Levy would be able to apply for a work permit while the bid is on hold, he explained.

USCIS did not immediately return a request for comment.

“We don’t think they should have to choose between a spouse and complying with the law,” said Plummer. “This family meets every criteria, they are just excluded because of their sexual orientation.”

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