Marriage may separate same-sex couple after visa not recognized

Marriage may separate same-sex couple after visa not recognized »Play Video
Jocelyn Guzman, left, may be sent back to Mexico because her visa is no longer recognized by U.S. Customs after she married her partner of 17 years, Shawn Sanders, right.

Custom officials surprised one of Washington's first legally married same-sex couple by telling them a visa is no good.

In the 17 years Shawn Sanders and Jocelyn Guzman have been together they've spent a lot of time apart. Sanders lives in Alaska and Guzman in Mexico.

So they didn't waste any time tying the knot once Washington legalized same-sex marriage. But after that was when the knot unraveled.

"You know, it puts kind of a kink in your day when you come back from your honeymoon and get caught up in customs, going, what just happened?" said Sanders on Wednesday.

Guzman is in the United States on a tourist visa. Now that she's married, she needs a different visa – a visa that doesn't exist yet.

Customs could have sent her back to Mexico.

"They send people home every single day," said Sanders. "From what the customs people said this is a first even for them. So they weren't even sure what to do."

And Guzman still may be headed back. Since there's no visa for same-sex partners, customs already booked her a flight. She can be in the United States only until March 16.

"I would like for the American government to recognize same-sex marriages," Guzman said. "This is an opportunity for them to say we have rights. And we would like to just live a simple life together."

The pair is looking at their options. They could move to another country but don't want to do that. They're also looking for an attorney who is an expert in immigration, same-sex marriage and bi-national marriage.