The DOMA Project
As the Supreme Court handed down a pair of historic rulings on Wednesday, network interns in Washington sprinted to be the first to deliver the decisions to star reporters.
Up the Acela Corridor in New York, Gabe Werman, an intern for the law firm Masliah & Soloway , was sprinting to a location that would prove to be much more consequential.
Werman yelled at the printer in an office suite in 225 Broadway, telling it to print faster the 77-page decision that would strike down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional.
It was his idea to run the decision to an immigration court five blocks away — where Colombian native Steven Infante was in danger of being deported despite being married to American citizen Sean Brooks.
"They were prepared with sneakers," Werman said in a phone interview of the network interns. "I was in dress clothes. I just happened to be in this perfect situation to run it down, so I ran it down."
Werman's furious sprint — his most meaningful since running track in high school — helped stop Steven Infante from being deported. A judge halted deportation proceedings, granting Masliah & Soloway a continuance in removal proceedings.
It happened less than 30 minutes after the Supreme Court's ruling. It spoke to the effect of a single day, hour, and even a handful of minutes of the ruling on ordinary lives. The story became fodder for a lengthy, powerful Rachel Maddow monologue on the subject that night.
In 2011, Masliah & Soloway filed a marriage-based Green Card petition for Steven, which still left him vulnerable to deportation. They made the case that Steven's deportation would impose hardship on his husband, but the petition was denied since the federal government did not legally recognize same-sex marriages.
That all changed on Wednesday.
"They didn't just say, 'You're in, now!'" Werman said. Nevertheless, he said that Sean and Steven were excited about the time they'll have to prepare, and they feel good about the effect the decision has on their case.
"They're treating it like a regular marriage case now, so it's going to be very different," he said. "It was — it was just — I really didn't want the people to be deported."
This post has been updated.
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