Manila LGBT celebrates US Embassy's first same-sex fiance visas

By Apples Jalandoni and Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Dec. 13, 2013

MANILA – The Philippine Gay Pride Parade is a lot more meaningful this year in Manila.
The LGBT community is celebrating the first fiance visas issued by the US Embassy in Manila for same sex couples. That means, a US citizen can now file an immigration petition to bring their non-US Citizen same-sex partner from the Philippines to America.

Getting a same-sex fiance visa then was almost impossible, that is why many bi-national same-sex couples involving a Pinoy LGBT member end up in long distance relationships with Americans.

Today, their dreams of spending the rest of their lives together are just a fiance visa away.

Jeffrey Montellano, a member of the LGBT community said he’ll be “spending more time with them, spending probably forever with him.”

To date, the US Embassy has issued two same-sex fiance visas.

The first to receive one was Noel Amaro, who is in a relationship with Robert Cotterman—a US military serviceman. They are getting married in January 2014.

The second fiance visa was given to Chela Gahuman, whose girlfriend is Carla Antonio—a Filipina-American from Hawaii. They are tying the knot this month in California.

“We’ll do everything that we weren’t able to before,” Gahuman said. “We’ll spend more time together.”

At this year’s Gay Pride celebrations in Manila, Gahuman said she is hoping that Filipinos will now open their hearts and minds when it comes to same-sex marriage and when it comes to equal treatment of gays and lesbians in the community.

With reports from Apples Jalandoni.

You may contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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