Documenting Same-Sex Couples and the Defense of Marriage Act


Under the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), legally married same-sex couples are not eligible to 1,138 federal rights, benefits and entitlements granted to heterosexual married couples. 

 Through contemporary interviews and verite style footage, The Legal Stranger Project documents a series of stories conveying the disparities encountered by same-sex couple. Under DOMA, they are “legal strangers.”

The Stories:

I, Amy, Take You, Alex:

Amy and Alex Khalaf were legally married in DC in 2010. Eager to start a family, they went through artificial insemination process to conceive a child only to discover that Alex is banned from adopting her own child in the state of VA.

To Have & To Hold: Coming Soon

In Sickness & Health:

After returning from deployment, Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan was diagnosed with recurring breast cancer. In May 2012, she received a prognosis of less than six months to live. Now, she is fighting to get veterans benefits for her wife and child. Charlie and Karen are legally married in NH. However, DOMA prevents the military from granting spousal benefits to same-sex spouses.

For Richer or Poorer: Coming Soon

Until Death Do Us Part:

Kelly and Dennis were in a loving, committed relationship for 15 years. They raised a son and owned a home together. Life changed drastically when Dennis was killed in a tragic accident while working for the highway patrol. Since the state didn’t recognize their relationship, Kelly was denied survivors benefits. He continues to struggle with the loss of his partner and financial problems, as Dennis was the breadwinner of the family.

The Project Team

Amanda Lucidon

Producer + Director

After working for seven years as a staff photographer for newspapers, Lucidon started LucidPix an independent photography and multimedia company. Lucidon’s work has been honored by the White House Press Photographers Association, National Press Photographers Association, Pictures of the Year International, The Associated Press and Press Photographers of the Greater Los Angeles, among others.

Scott Anger

Project Manager

For more than 25 years, Scott Anger has worked as an independent journalist and award-winning documentary filmmaker. Most recently, he was the Director of Video at The Los Angeles Times where he led a staff of video journalists and developed editorial video strategy for the organization.

Pierre Kattar

Video Editor

Pierre Kattar is an Emmy Award-winning video journalist and documentary filmmaker. He developed his observational style of filmmaking during his 10 years at The Washington Post’s website where he reported, shot, edited, wrote and produced news and feature video stories. Since starting his freelance career in 2010, he has worked with The New York Times, Frontline, the NewsHour, AARP, and National Geographic. He has also produced two independent short documentaries, one of which screened at the International Chicago REEL shorts film festival.

Laura Elizabeth Pohl

Contributing Consultant + Video Editor

Laura Elizabeth Pohl is a photographer and video producer working as the multimedia manager at Bread for the World, an advocacy NGO in Washington, D.C. Her work has been honored by FotoWeekDC, the Religion Communicators Council and the United Nations Association Film Festival, among others. She’s a co-founder of CORE Group’s Humanitarian Photography Interest Group and the founder and editor of

Shannon Clash

Production Assistant + Social Media

Shannon Clash is junior working toward a broadcast journalism Bachelors Degree at the Philips Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is also pursuing a minor in Human Development in the College of Education. Along with being a full-time student, Shannon works as an Undergraduate Assistant for the Marketing and Communications Office for the College of Arts & Humanities at the university and recently launched her new photography business called Clash Productions. She is also a member of National Press Photographer Association, Women Photojournalists of Washington, and National Association of Black Journalist.

Mike Davis

Contributing Photo Editor

Mike Davis works with photographers the world over to develop bodies of work that have meaning. He has been a picture editor at National Geographic Magazine, The White House and several leading newspapers in America. He was twice named newspaper picture editor of the year. His guidance has helped produce many books, gallery shows, significant projects and scores of contest-winning bodies of work.

Astrid Riecken

Contributing Photographer

Astrid Riecken is a German-born, award-winning photo journalist who is currently based in Washington, D.C., where she works as a freelance photographer for the Washington Post, Getty images and the European Press Photo Agency.

Allison Joyce

Contributing Photographer

Allison Joyce is an award-winning photojournalist based in New York City. In 2007 and 2008, she covered the U.S. presidential race as a campaign photographer for Hillary Clinton and recently completed projects in Bangladesh and India. Her work has appeared in publications worldwide, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones, Virginia Quarterly Review, TIME, Newsweek, Paris Match and L’Express.

Charles Ludeke

Contributing Photographer

Charles Ludeke is a freelance documentary photographer whose work focuses on intimacy, storytelling and memory. His work has been awarded by College Photographer of the Year and shown by the Colorado Photographic Arts Center. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Emily Lockley

Contributing Graphic Designer

Emily Lockley began her graphic design career in the non-profit sector, working mostly in editorial design for a Washington D.C. based wire news agency with more than 1 million clients worldwide. She spent 2 years as the multimedia producer at the same organization before moving to Denver in 2012. Currently, she owns and operates a wedding invitation company and designs logos and marketing materials on a freelance basis.

Irene Rojas

Contributing Production Assistant

Irene Rojas is a photographer and video producer based in Northern Virginia-based.  She is an alumni of the College of William & Mary, University of Missouri and a member of the National Press Photographers Association, Women in Film & Video DC  and Women Photojournalists of Washington. Rojas has also worked at Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts as a multimedia intern.

Talking Eyes Media

Fiscal Sponsor

Talking Eyes Media is a non-profit production company that creates powerful media for pressing issues. TEM produces documentary films, multimedia, books and exhibitions that stimulate dialogue and advocate for positive social change. The organization is committed to turning a probing eye on situations were people struggle unduly, where resources are poorly distributed, and where there’s a tremendous opportunity to improve society for future generations.

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