A Philippine gay immigrant on Thursday filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law which bars federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

The Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law filed the lawsuit on behalf of Jane DeLeon, an immigrant from the Philippines, and her U.S. wife Irma Rodriguez. The couple married in California in 2008, during the brief months when gay marriage was legal in the state.

Peter Schey, executive director of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law and the lead attorney in the case, would like the lawsuit to win class-action designation so it could apply to the estimated thousands of binational gay couples. Schey called the suit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security the first proposed class action of its kind.

According to the lawsuit, Jane DeLeon has been residing with Rodriguez for 20 years. DeLeon has been approved for an immigrant visa based on her employment, but she needs a waiver from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (“CIS”) because she entered the country in 1989 using the name of her then common-law husband. Such waivers are issued if an immigrant's deportation would cause extreme hardship to a U.S. citizen spouse. DeLeon's waiver was denied in September because her marriage is not recognized by the federal government.

DeLeon's son, Martin R. Aranas, who was 9 when his mother brought him to the United States, also faces deportation.

“My legalization depends on my mother's case,” said Aranas, 25, in a statement. “After many years of having temporary legal status, I now face being in 'illegal' status only because my mother is in a same sex marriage.”