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U.S. Embassy in Manila issues its first visas to same-sex couples

Friday, December 6, 2013
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MANILA, Luzon — The United States Embassy in the Philippines has issued its first fiancé visas to two same-sex couples.

U.S. Embassy in Manila.

U.S. Embassy in Manila.

According to the Embassy, Noel Amaro and Robert Cotterman were issued the visa on Dec. 2, becoming the first same-sex couple in the Philippines to receive a fiancé visa. Cotterman serves in the U.S. military and is scheduled to return from a tour in Afghanistan in January 2014.

Maria Cecilia Limson Gahuman and Maria Carla Antonio also received a fiancé visa. The couple met through a mutual friend over a decade ago. With their fiancé visa, the couple will transition their their ten-year relationship from long-distance to marriage in California on Dec. 30.

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, fiancé, and their children.

“This change comes months after a momentous decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, which struck down the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman,” the Embassy said, in a statement.

The announcement by the Embassy highlights the fact that American officials want to educate gay Filipinos about new visa opportunities.

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