A New York court is considering the
marriage of an Argentine gay woman in her legal fight to remain in the
Monica Alcota's deportation hearings in
Manhattan were halted last week after lawyers argued that her
marriage to Cristina Ojeda made her eligible to remain in the country.
Alcota, 35, came to the United States
more than 10 years ago. She overstayed her tourist visa and is
considered to be living in this country illegally.
Ojeda, 25, a U.S. citizen, and Alcota
were married in Connecticut last year.
In an interview with the gay marriage
group Stop 8, Alcota's lawyer, Lavi Soloway, said the judge's
decision to consider the women's marriage rested on the shifting
status of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Clinton-era law
that bans federal recognition of the marriages of gay and lesbian
“We argued this week in court that
the judge and the attorney representing the Department of Homeland
Security should take note of the changing landscape of the Defense of
Marriage Act,” Soloway said. “They should take note of the fact
first that the president and the [U.S.] attorney general announced
that they would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act on
February 23, and that they found the Defense of Marriage Act was
unconstitutional. But also that Congress, both the House and the
Senate, were moving now to repeal it. And that legislation had been
“And then, of course, that previously
this summer a federal district court judge had ruled the Defense of
Marriage Act to be unconstitutional.”
“And that taken together, all three
branches were essentially working on the demise of the Defense of
Marriage Act, that it would be premature to deport the spouse of a
lesbian American citizen, while that was happening, when the Defense
of Marriage Act was the only obstacle standing between them and a
green card.” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this
Soloway added that Alcota's status was
discovered when a Rochester, New York border patrol agent boarded a
bus she and Ojeda were traveling on and asked everyone for
identification. Alcota was taken away and detained in a New Jersey
detention facility for three months.
In a statement to CNN, the government
said it continues to enforce DOMA.