Lesbian couples fighting for immigration equality and extended rights for same-sex military couples will attend the president's annual State of the Union address Tuesday evening.
Tracey Hepner, cofounder of the Military Partners and Families Coalition, will sit with first lady Michelle Obama. Hepner works for the Department of Homeland Security as a master behavior detection officer, and is the wife of the military's first openly gay or lesbian general, Army Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith. Hepner also founded the Rainbow Ribbon and the Rainbow Ribbon Project, organizations dedicated to raising visibility of LGBT military families.
The women have been married since March and live in Arlington, Va.
Hepner will sit with other guests of the first lady, including students, factory workers, people affected by gun control laws, immigrants, business owners, and former Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha, a Medal of Honor recipient.
Kelly Costello and her Peruvian wife Fabiola Morales are guests of New York representative Jerrold Nadler, the lead sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act. His bill could provide immigration equality rights for binational same-sex couples. According to the Washington Blade, Costello and Morales are in danger of being separated because Morales cannot obtain a marriage-based green card even though they have been married since 2011. Under the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, their marriage, performed in Washington, D.C., cannot be recognized by the federal government.
Morales is currently in the U.S. on a student visa, but that is scheduled to expire in 2014. It is especially important for the couple to stay together in the U.S. because Morales is on a clinical trial for multiple sclerosis treatment and Costello is expecting twins this summer.
“Right now,we have a rare opportunity to fix the immigration system, and with that, I think it’s important we should fix everything to make it include all of us,” Costello said to the Blade.