RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

The U.S. Supreme Court is soon expected to weigh in on the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. That's the federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman.

What the court decides will have a profound effect on gay citizens who are legally married to foreign-born spouses. These couples are barred under DOMA from sponsoring their husbands or wives for citizenship, unlike the foreign spouses of heterosexuals who automatically qualify. Thousands of same-sex and bi-national couples are now waiting to see if the court will end their marriage and immigration limbo.

NPR's Liz Halloran reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF A CONVERSATION)

LIZ HALLORAN, BYLINE: It's a Sunday morning in suburban Washington, D.C., and the Costello home is filled with chatter about babies, diets and new spring outfits. The aroma - sizzling omelets.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: These look fabulous.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Thank you. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: No, thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHATTER)

HALLORAN: Guests are arriving with baby gifts wrapped in pink and blue. At the center of hubbub are Kelly Costello and Fabiola Morales. Costello is pregnant with twins.

KELLY COSTELLO: Yay, it's Wendy time, good job.

HALLORAN: That's Costello. She and Morales met seven years ago and took their wedding vows in Washington after the city legalized same-sex marriage.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: But under DOMA, their union isn't recognized; not by the federal government, not by immigration authorities. That means Morales, a native of Peru, will have to leave the country when her student visa runs out.

FABIOLA MORALES: That possibility of something happening that force us to go to my country or to a different country; it was there, like, we knew that that could be a possibility.

HALLORAN: After the party, Kelly Costello was less diplomatic about DOMA's impact on her marriage.

COSTELLO: The Defense of Marriage Act, you know, basically is forcing me to choose my spouse or my country.

HALLORAN: The couple, who have been living with Costello's parents, say their strong Catholic faith helps sustain them - even though church doctrine doesn't accept their union.

MORALES: We understand that the Catholic Church maybe still has to change a little bit more to be able to love everybody, like, people like us. But we have found support from the Catholic Church too.

COSTELLO: As my dad always says, we're all God's children.

HALLORAN: Costello is 31 and teaches English as a second language to elementary school students. She and Morales, who is 39, say both their families have been supportive, but that the uncertainty they face, weighs on them.

COSTELLO: I think it's just the instability. It's that's, you know, something we think about all the time. And, you know, she won't be able to go to school forever, that's not her calling.

HALLORAN: Given the uncertainty, why did you decide to have a baby?

MORALES: We have been wanting to start a family of our own for many years. We have been waiting for things to change, like the laws. But we realize that we cannot put our lives on hold.

HALLORAN: Crosby Burns is a policy expert on gay issues at the liberal Center for American Progress. He says things could change quickly if the court strikes down DOMA.

CROSBY BURNS: There's no reason that the Department of Homeland Security can't start processing green card applications for same-sex bi-national couples on day one.

HALLORAN: And if the court upholds the law?

BURNS: We would turn again to the immigration debate. And we'd say for same-sex bi-national couples we need to treat them just as we do for opposite sex couples.

HALLORAN: Costello and Morales are now the parents of twins, a boy and a girl born Friday. They wait now for the court to decide where their new family will be allowed to live together.

Liz Halloran, NPR News.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.