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US citizen born in refugee camp sues to marry

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Two weeks before their wedding, Viet "Victor" Anh Vo and his fiancee were stunned when a court clerk rejected their application for a marriage license because he couldn't produce a birth certificate.

The couple had spent thousands of dollars on a wedding planner, caterer, florist, disc jockey and a reception hall for 350 guests before they learned that a newly amended Louisiana law would block them from getting married. They went ahead with February's ceremony without a license to make it official, but they aren't giving up on legally tying the knot.

Vo, a 31-year-old U.S. citizen who was born in an Indonesian refugee camp, today sued in federal court to challenge a law that has prevented other immigrants from getting married for the same reason he couldn't.

"I don't understand the law. I just want them to fix it, to make things right," Vo told The Associated Press during an interview in his Lafayette hometown.

A Republican lawmaker who sponsored January's changes in the state's marriage laws said it was designed to crack down on people using fraudulent marriages to gain visas and citizenship.

Vo's suit, which is believed to be the first of its kind, claims the law violates his constitutional rights and was intended to discriminate against foreign-born people.