Supreme Court rulings bring couples out of the shadows

Changes to both the nation’s immigration laws and the statutes governing gay marriage are opening up a world of possibilities for couples across the United States. And California, which is leading the way in affording greater legal rights to gays and immigrants, offers many examples of how these new developments are making life for gay immigrants in America a happier, more fulfilling and more equal experience.

Marriage brings business out of the shadows
For years now, Alfred Cheung, of San Francisco, has been operating his tech company, which designs and sells software intended to help government and nonprofit organizations, in the regulatory shadows. That’s because he’s in the country without a green card.

But with the Supreme Court’s 2013 rulings that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s ban on gay marriage, Cheung was free to marry his boyfriend of six years – which, according to, he did in October – and that will also help pave his way to full citizenship.

A native of Hong Kong, Cheung has long been afraid to promote his business and find new investors because of the legal gray area within which he had been living. Now, though, he is excited about being able to grow his operation without having a legal cloud hanging over his head.

Marriage frees couple from fear
According to a study from UCLA, there are an estimated 36,000 same-sex couples in the U.S. with one of the partners in the relationship being foreign-born and with that person waiting to get a green card as the spouse of a citizen. One such couple is Tom Knutson and Phan Datthuyawat of Sacramento, Calif.

The recent Court rulings also cleared the way for them to marry, which was of immediate concern because Knutson is suffering from pancreatic cancer, and Datthuyawat hasn’t visited his mother in Thailand in 10 years. Now they can make better arrangements for Knutson’s care, and Datthuyawat will finally be able to see his family without worrying about not being let back into the country upon his return.