(CNN) -

A year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA, a 1996 law that recognized legal marriage as being between a man and a woman. The June 26, 2013, ruling in Windsor v. United States afforded equal federal rights and protections to married same-sex couples.

The ruling made a huge difference for binational gay couples. With DOMA gone, U.S. citizens and permanent residents could sponsor their same-sex spouses for residency in the United States. Before, many same-sex couples had to make an agonizing choice between love and country when a temporary visa for one of the partners expired.

CNN spoke with four such couples before and after the historic ruling. Read how they are doing a year later:


Early last June, Satyam Barakoti, 37, and Tonja Holder, 47, were pondering their options: Start a new life in Barakoti's native Nepal. Or maybe Thailand or closer to home in Canada. But they couldn't stay in Atlanta and raise their child as a legally married couple.

They counted down to February 20, 2014, the day Barakoti's U.S. visa was set to expire and she'd have to leave the country. The date hung like a thundercloud over their heads.

"It was D-Day for us," Barakoti says.

But a year ago on June 26, things brightened.

Not long after the Supreme Court ruling, Barakoti and Holder got married in Washington, D.C. They immediately filed a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for permanent residency or a green card for Barakoti.

Barakoti gave birth to a daughter in November and no longer fears being separated from Holder.

"There's no reason it should not go through," Holder says of their petition. "I've changed enough dirty diapers to know how real a family we are."

The couple runs a small business that helps nonprofits with fundraising and grant writing. After the DOMA ruling, they breathed a sigh of relief and were able to devote more time and energy to building their company and raising their daughter.

"It pretty much changed everything for us," Holder says.

Barakoti no longer looks at a calendar with dread, and February 20 came and went without fanfare. In fact, they didn't even notice.

Coming home

Brandon Perlberg, 36, abandoned his law career in New York and moved to London to be with his fiance, Benn Storey, so they could remain together. Storey, 32, is British and his temporary U.S. work visa had expired.

Perlberg grew angry that he had to leave his own country to be with the one he loved. He says he was forced into exile because he is gay.

"As an American I felt torn," he says. "On the one hand I love my country dearly, but on the other I deeply resented that we were pushed out rather than afforded the dignity we deserve."

The Supreme Court ruling came more than two years after they left New York.

Perlberg and Storey are getting married in October. After that, they can think about moving back to America.