By MADEL S. NAMIT
Manila, Philippines – The United States Embassy in Manila has issued fiancé visas to two same-sex couples.
The US Embassy announced that the first fiancé visa to a same-sex couple was given on December 2 to Noel “Aeinghel” Amaro and Robert Cotterman.
“Although same-sex marriage is not yet recognized in the Philippines, gay Americans are now able to petition for family-based visas on behalf of their Filipino spouses, fiancés, and their children,” the US Embassy stated.
Cotterman serves in the US military and is scheduled to return from a tour in Afghanistan next month. Cotterman and Amaro two met online and will be married in January 2014 in the United States.
The US Embassy said same-sex couple Maria Cecilia Limson Gahuman and Maria Carla Antonio also received a fiancé visa. Gahuman is Filipina while Antonio is American.
The same-sex visa policy came months after a momentous decision by the US Supreme Court, which struck down the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Overturning DOMA signifies that the US federal government must extend all federal rights and privileges of marriage to any married couple, regardless of sexual orientation.
“In light of these changes, the American Embassy wants to educate gay Filipinos about new visa opportunities. Filipinos in same-sex relationships with Americans are encouraged to view the visas section of the embassy website at manila.usembassy.gov for more information,” the US Embassy stated.
Currently, gay couples can marry in 16 of 50 American states, and the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. This extension of rights includes immigration benefits.