On Tuesday, immigration activists congregated in a Capitol Hill area church to celebrate the symbolic wedding between undocumented immigrant activist, Prerna Lal and her same-sex American citizen partner, Lindsay Schubiner. Their marriage highlights the recent Supreme Court decision to allow binational, same-sex couples to sponsor green cards for their partners.
Lal and Schubiner held hands as they walked down the aisle together. Schubiner said her vows first, while Lal lightheartedly joked, “I’ll always be there for you, for as long as I have my papers.” They then exchanged rings and kissed. Cindy Ramirez Clark, an immigration paralegal who helped Lal apply for her work authorization cards, officiated the wedding. A private, official wedding will be held in August.
Lal is the cofounder of DreamActivist, which organizes annual graduations for undocumented youths who are unable to attend college. Because Lal holds a special place in her heart for these ceremonies, her wedding was preceded by a mock graduation. She explained to ThinkProgress that “graduations are another marker in life” that deserves as much celebration as weddings. “It’s a very meaningful time and place to celebrate our wedding,” said Schubiner. “Our ability to now get a green card based on our marriage is exactly the kind of thing that we want to celebrate with our community, which includes many DREAMers.”
When asked what Schubiner thought about her undocumented status, Lal said, “I told her to Google me. She didn’t seem to care.”
Kelly Costello and her wife Fabiola Morales were one of the binational couples surrounding Lal and Schubiner during the ceremony. Costello is sponsoring Morales, a Peruvian citizen, for a green card. They told ThinkProgress, “We are all God’s children. Everyone deserves to be treated equally, undocumented or not.”
Similarly overcome by the wedding, Edwin Joseph and his South African husband Tim said they found their joy “hard to digest,” because they had believed that they would never see DOMA struck down in their lifetime.
Rachel Tiven, the director of Immigration Equality, spoke about the deep historical roots of the intersection between LGBT and immigrant movements. “LGBT people will always be skeptical of anybody who says that somebody else isn’t good enough to be American,” she said, recalling the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 that excluded LGBT people from immigrating due to their “psychopathic personalities.” She also talked about the case of Clive Boutilier, a gay Canadian immigrant who challenged the law in a 1967 Supreme Court case that ultimately denied him the right to stay with his partner in the United States in a 6–3 decision.
Throughout the event, many stressed the incremental nature of recent successes and the importance of continuing the fight for equality for both immigrants and LGBT people. “While we’re thrilled that we have the 1138 rights that we deserve now that DOMA has been overturned,” Schubiner recounted, “it’s really important to us to keep fighting to make sure that everyone else has access to those rights too, regardless of their immigration status, or their marital or relationship status.”
Lal and Schubiner joins the 24,700 binational, same-sex couples in the United States whose marriage are now recognized by the federal government after the Supreme Court decision to overturn DOMA.