DOMA ruling could impact Tampa immigrants - WFLA News Channel 8

Marriage ruling could impact Tampa immigrants

Posted: Updated:
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

Wednesday's Supreme Court decision will likely have a massive impact on a Tampa couple's relationship. Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez and his husband Juan have been in a bi-national same-sex marriage not recognized by the United States federal government.

They believe the U.S. Supreme Court decision changed that when five out of nine justices agreed the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, is unconstitutional. The act, originally passed during the Clinton era, blocked federal marriage benefits to same-sex spouses.

"Today is the day we can finally have security in our family," Felipe said. "When you have to live under the fear of deportation ... we can't build a family like that."

Felipe is a native of Brazil; Juan a Colombian native. The two are in the process of finding an immigration attorney. Juan will become a U.S. citizen in 5 weeks and hopes to be able to petition for his undocumented husband for the first time. In simple terms, it's much like the Green Card process straight couples have gone through for years.

"We've been living with the daily fear that he could get deported any day ... taken away from me and there was nothing I could do to stop it," Juan said. "Now I can actually say 'that's my husband, you can't take him from me' and that's a beautiful thing.'"

The two have been together 5 years, live in the Bay area and married in Massachusetts a year ago.

"The Supreme Court has finally said what we have been saying for so long: That we have equal love and we deserve equal rights," Felipe said. "When the laws of the country acknowledge your existence - that makes you feel like you belong."

Still, same-sex couples can't marry in the State of Florida. Voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2008 defining marriage between one man and one woman. About 62 percent of voters voted for it. Terry Kemple, a Bay Area Christian activist and founder of the Community Issues Council, believes voters voices are important and that the Supreme Court over-stepped its bounds.

"The control over the reshaping of our social fabric in our country has been squarely placed in the hands on the judiciary ... most of whom are unelected and unaccountable to the people," Kemple said. "It's not the people anymore."

He fears that leaving what's ultimately right or wrong up to 9 justices is a slippery slope.

"Quite frequently the decisions that they make are really fabricated out of nothing," Kemple said. "They're finding ways to rationalize and justify making decisions that have tremendous implications across the board for people throughout the country."

The ruling also surprised gay rights activist R. Zeke Fread but in a different way. He didn't think the court would look beyond certain sections of DOMA.

"When they came up with the decision that DOMA was unconstitutional - I cried," he said. "I did not see that coming."

Fread helped organize a rally Wednesday night on the steps of the federal courthouse in Tampa.

"It is the most historic decision we could've expected and rights wise it's monumental," he said. "Our gay military heroes will immediately get their benefits which includes on-base housing for their spouses."

Fread says there is a push to overturn Florida's 2008 amendment, but that it could take time to do so. Although he and other activists would like to see a repeal on the 2014 ballot, it's a midterm election and most of the voters who show up for those are senior citizens and socially conservative. He says the best chance for getting it on the ballot could be the Presidential election in 2016.

"I'm 61; I may never see gay marriage. But a lot of young kids today feel good about who they are," Fread said. "Us old activists may not see the day where we could marry. But to know that the younger kids are coming up in a society that's more accepting ... makes every moment worthwhile."

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Community reaches out to Spring Hill family after theft of lawn equipment

    Community reaches out to Spring Hill family after theft of lawn equipment

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:41 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:41:35 GMT
    Michael Depace wants to say "thank you" and give a huge hug to everyone that reached out after a thief stole $3,500 worth of lawn equipment from him.
    Michael Depace wants to say "thank you" and give a huge hug to everyone that reached out after a thief stole $3,500 worth of lawn equipment from him.
  • FL vehicle registration renewal fees drop

    FL vehicle registration renewal fees drop

    Monday, September 1 2014 11:48 AM EDT2014-09-01 15:48:49 GMT
    That little gift you get from the state on your birthday every year, to renew your car tag, is going to be cheaper starting Monday.  The cut will save drivers about $13 to $25 depending on the size of their vehicle.
    That little gift you get from the state on your birthday every year, to renew your car tag, is going to be cheaper starting Monday.  The cut will save drivers about $13 to $25 depending on the size of their vehicle.
  • Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:48 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:48:06 GMT
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Tampa daycare set to reopen after crash

    Tampa daycare set to reopen after crash

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 3:44 AM EDT2014-09-02 07:44:21 GMT
    A Tampa kindergarten and daycare center is set to reopen four days after a suspected drunk driver crashed through the wall into a classroom.
    A Tampa kindergarten and daycare center is set to reopen four days after a suspected drunk driver crashed through the wall into a classroom.
  • Pasco County couple survive a week adrift at sea

    Pasco County couple survive a week adrift at sea

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 3:36 AM EDT2014-09-02 07:36:06 GMT
    A Pasco county couple is recovering after spending a week adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. They were trapped 80 miles off shore without any food and very little water for seven days.
    A Pasco county couple is recovering after spending a week adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. They were trapped 80 miles off shore without any food and very little water for seven days.
  • Palm Harbor strip club hit & run victim makes plea

    Palm Harbor strip club hit & run victim makes plea

    Monday, September 1 2014 9:33 PM EDT2014-09-02 01:33:46 GMT
    New video shows the violent incident early Friday morning, outside "Silks" strip club on US 19 in Palm Harbor. Bouncer Doug Berube and the club DJ. wanted to talk to a guy in a car about an earlier incident. The driver shoved it in reverse, hit the gas, and backed over Berube. He has a plea for the driver....
    New video shows the violent incident early Friday morning, outside "Silks" strip club on US 19 in Palm Harbor. Bouncer Doug Berube and the club DJ. wanted to talk to a guy in a car about an earlier incident. The driver shoved it in reverse, hit the gas, and backed over Berube. He has a plea for the driver....
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Teen accused of killing, dismembering mother's body

    Teen accused of killing, dismembering mother's body

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:48 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:48:37 GMT
    Tyrese LandrumTyrese Landrum
    A Lee County teenager is behind bars, accused of killing his own mother and hiding her body parts around the home.
    A Lee County teenager is behind bars, accused of killing his own mother and hiding her body parts around the home.
  • Clueless swimmers have near-miss with shark off Florida beach

    Clueless swimmers have near-miss with shark off Florida beach

    Monday, September 1 2014 12:45 PM EDT2014-09-01 16:45:15 GMT
    YouTube/User Scott McCainYouTube/User Scott McCain
    Beach-goers in Destin, Florida had a near-miss with a hungry hammerhead shark.
    Beach-goers in Destin, Florida had a near-miss with a hungry hammerhead shark.
  • Teens hurt after falling from carnival ride

    Teens hurt after falling from carnival ride

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:46 AM EDT2014-09-01 10:46:21 GMT
    Teens hurt after falling from carnival ride in Texas.Teens hurt after falling from carnival ride in Texas.
    Two teenagers were rushed to University Medical Center in serious condition, that according to emergency dispatchers, who said they fell more than 12 feet from a ride at Saint Anthony's Bazaar on Sunday night.It happened shortly past 10 p.m.Dispatchers said firefighters also requested a ladder to rescue somebody stranded on the ride. The Crimes Against Children unit is investigating. There was no immediate indication from police of why that unit is involved.
    Two teenagers were rushed to University Medical Center in serious condition, that according to emergency dispatchers, who said they fell more than 12 feet from a ride at Saint Anthony's Bazaar on Sunday night.It happened shortly past 10 p.m.Dispatchers said firefighters also requested a ladder to rescue somebody stranded on the ride. The Crimes Against Children unit is investigating. There was no immediate indication from police of why that unit is involved.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.