A lesbian couple in Vermont has been thrust into the national spotlight. They are legally married here, but not at the federal level. Now one of them is considered an illegal immigrant and is facing deportation.
Frances Herbert and Takako Ueda met in college and have known each other for 30 years. They have shared countless dinners, laughs and tears. "I knew that she was the one," Ueda said.
After college Ueda returned to Japan and started a life with a husband and new home. But after a visit from Herbert in 1999, her life changed again. "When I die. When I put my one leg into a coffin, I don't want to regret," she said.
Ueda divorced and moved to the United States. The couple have been living together ever since and married last year. But in December -- another change. They received a letter from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which denied Ueda's request to stay in the county, a right granted to heterosexual spouses of different nationalities. Sadness quickly turned to anger.
The letter states that because the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defines a marriage as one man and one woman, Ueda had to go. "How can our country, with a President who knows discrimination in his core, how can they continue to uphold DOMA," Herbert questioned.
Vermont's congressional delegation, including Congressman Peter Welch, who recently gave a speech on the house floor highlighting the issue, is urging Homeland Security to reconsider. "The United States has always recognized the law of a state when it comes to marriage. So why shouldn't Washington recognize what Vermont has done, what Massachusetts has done," he said.
"It was a profound step that they made and of course we are incredibly thankful to them," Herbert said.
"Just living in Vermont is something I feel special,"Ueda said.
The couple admit that they are now politically motivated to make a difference for married gay couples in the U.S. who find themselves in the same boat. Married in the state they call home, but not the country. "The struggle is about so many more couples, 36-thousand about in this country," Herbert said.
And they say they are confident they will win. "I trust that things will work out," Ueda said.
A partnership bonded by love, but at risk of being torn apart by United States law.