We're Engaged LA

A Project of the Forum for Equality Louisiana

Havard & Sergio

Posted by in on Mar 30, 2014 | 0 comments

Havard Scott  is a Shreveport attorney. He formerly worked as a partner at a large New Orleans-based law firm. Sergio March Prieto, a citizen of Spain and a US permanent resident, is a singer and actor who has appeared in movies filmed in the Shreveport area, in other parts of the country, Spain and on cruise liners. While Havard was managing the New Orleans-based law firm’s offices in Miami doing cruise ship defense work. Havard met Sergio in 1996 while Sergio was working as a singer and dancer on one of Havard’s client’s cruise ship.  Havard and Sergio have lived together in a committed relationship since 1997.

Havard and Sergio moved to Shreveport in 2003 to care for Havard’s mother, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. In 2000, Havard and Sergio travelled to Vermont and entered into a civil union. After Vermont legalized marriage for same-sex couples, they returned to Vermont in 2010 and celebrated their marriage.

Prior to the Supreme Court’s announcement of the Windsor decision, Sergio received permission from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) to remain in the United States based on his employment. After Windsor was announced, CIS reviewed immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse. Sergio has received notice he would receive a Green Card to remain in the US  based on his status as Havard’s spouse.

Despite the recognition of Havard and Sergio’s marriage by federal immigration authorities, Louisiana refuses to recognize the validity of their Vermont marriage.

“We are fortunate to live in Shreveport, which like New Orleans, grants comprehensive employment, housing and public accommodations to its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens,” Havard said. “It’s notable that Shreveport, a conservative North Louisiana city, is far more advanced than the State of Louisiana, which treats its LGBT citizens as badly as any state possibly can.”

Before the Immigration Service granted Sergio a green card based on his performance work, Havard and Sergio went to Spain. “When we returned, we got hassled at the Atlanta airport. The Immigration officers searched him,” Havard said.  “When they found a picture of us with my arm around him, they asked him if I was his boyfriend. He was denied entry and had to return to Spain. It went to the fact that he was gay.”

The federal government, after the Windsor decision, extended spousal rights to all same-sex marriage couples, regardless of the state of their residence.

“I literally received my Green Card as a spouse of an American,” Sergio said. “We were ecstatic.”

“We are professional people and pay a lot of taxes to our government,” Havard said.  “Our government should treat us equally.”

Despite the recognition of their marriage by federal authorities, the State of Louisiana refuses to recognize the validity of their marriage, will not permit them to claim married status for purpose of state income taxes, nor do they have the presumptive right to make basic decisions on each other’s behalfs, including funeral plans.

MEET THE PLAINTIFFS:

Jackie & Lauren  –  Henry & Carey  –  Andrew & Nick  –  Havard & Sergio