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Will gay American exiles return after Supreme Court ruling?

June 27th, 2013
10:47 AM ET

By Samuel Burke, CNN

“I am so proud of my country today,” Brandon Perlberg told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday just after the Supreme Court ruled that the government needed to recognize gay marriages for federal benefits. “Whether I'm coming back is a different question and is a difficult question to answer.”

For months, Amanpour has been tracking the story of how the Defense of Marriage Act, which was overturned, forced Perlberg, a gay American, to choose between love and country.

Perlberg and his British partner, Benn Storey, used to live in New York. Even though that state allows gay marriage, DOMA prevented Brandon from getting his partner American citizenship – the way a straight couple has always been able to. 

So Perlberg moved to the United Kingdom, where Story was able to bring him on a “partner visa” – they did not even have to get married under the U.K. rules.

Wednesday’s historic Supreme Court decision looks a game-changer for this couple and for thousands of other gay Americans with a foreign-born partner who have been living in limbo.

“Well, this is certainly the decision that I've been waiting for. I am just overjoyed,” Perlberg said. “But what it did not do was to wave a magic wand in the air and undo all of the damage that was done by DOMA over many, many years. I can get on a plane bound for New York tomorrow. But I won't get my life back. My job is gone; someone else is living in my home; my savings are depleted. And that doesn't even begin to address the emotional toll that this process has taken on me.”

So while Perlberg considers beginning the process of getting Story an American passport and citizenship, he said it is no simple decision whether the couple can once again pack up their bags and “resume” life as it was in New York.

This is also unchartered water for the U.S. government, and it is unclear when and how foreign partners will begin the bureaucratic process.

“We didn't win green cards today. We won access to the immigration system and they should seek out effective counsel and make sure that they're making their decisions appropriately with respect to their applications,” Perlberg told Amanpour.

Now, Americans in Perlberg’s position have to start making many considerations: property that has been purchased overseas when they followed their partners to other countries, careers that people have built and the relationships they have established outside of the United States.

But Perlberg sounds incredibly optimistic, certainly more so than the last time he spoke with Amanpour.

“We're on the right side of history,” he said. “The Supreme Court was definitely tuned into the way that the majority of Americans feel and this is just going to keep rolling.”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Gay Rights • Latest Episode
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. jimmydemello

    Let's hope not.

    June 27, 2013 at 5:51 pm | Reply
    • Dandydonnie

      You can say that again.

      July 1, 2013 at 3:07 am | Reply
  2. Aly

    Poor dude, I feel sorry for him. Good for him though. For sure I'd rather have all the gays back rather than prejudice "Christians" occupying our space.

    June 28, 2013 at 3:50 am | Reply
    • letmeeatcake

      why do you dislike christians? they are no worse than know-it-all atheists when it comes to keeping their beliefs and opinions to themselves...

      July 2, 2013 at 7:41 am | Reply
  3. David

    This is a great decision for America, and it's about time. But I agree with the couple in the article – As someone that left the US for this reason with my partner in 2006, I've now built a life elsewhere. If the timing works, I may return one day. In the meantime, as my job is relatively high paid, the USA has lost roughly 300,000USD in taxes (and counting) which has gone to the UK, and which they will recover.

    June 29, 2013 at 6:35 am | Reply
  4. Jaffari Buyogera

    This is contrary to God's laws. Mind you dont think He is sleeping and I pity Malawi as an african country. Remember Sodoma and Gomora whole nation can be punished. I am warnig USA AND EUROPE

    June 30, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Reply
  5. Caihlyn

    Love IS God's law.

    June 30, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Reply
  6. bob

    i wishes God punish those any gays over population growing to stop . i guess that are abnormal . i know if they cannot help themself back to normal than gays.. i saying up to God .. i focus myself a nice woman . i prefer

    July 1, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Reply
  7. bob

    find a nice woman than gays sorry i missed types words (find)

    July 1, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Reply

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