Same-sex couples are seeing the benefits of the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling even faster than anticipated (much to the chagrin of conservatives). On Friday, as same-sex marriages resumed in California, Julian Marsh, an American, and his husband Traian Popov, a Bulgarian immigrant, got the news that they are the first gay couple to have their marriage-based green card petition approved. The New York Times reports that the visa agency had said it would hold off on approving applications until this week, but apparently immigration officers got excited and decided to jump the gun.
Popov, 41, has been living in the U.S. for fifteen years on student visas. He completed three master's degrees during that time, and is currently working on a doctorate in social science at Florida's Nova Southeastern University. The couple lives in Fort Lauderdale, but got married in New York in October, as same-sex marriage isn't legal in their home state. "We recognized back then that when Tray graduates we might have to leave our home and our country," Marsh told the Miami Herald. "We were willing to do that. We were planning on doing that. We were discussing where to move to. Thanks to the Supreme Court we can stay in our home now. We can be in the country that we love."
Soon many other couples will receive the same happy news. For the last two years officials at U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services have been keeping a list of same-sex couples whose green card petitions were denied, in anticipation of the Supreme Court's DOMA ruling. The decisions in those cases will be reversed, with no need for a new application, and other pending applications from gay couples will be handled exactly the same as those from opposite-sex couples.