This is, above all, a love story. An international love story.

“We met on April 28, 1997 in Amsterdam," said David Colton, of Quincy, laughing. "It was a very serendipitous meeting. I was there on a tour with a group and stopped after dinner at a local pub and was there for maybe five minutes and Brian walked in and that was it. It was all over.”

Brian is Brian Khoo. He’s from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“I was actually living in Singapore, working for Singapore Airlines," Khoo said. "I was a flight attendant. That very same night I was getting ready to go to bed. A note slipped under the door saying your flight’s been delayed three hours. So I get dressed, I go out, I headed to the very same pub that David had mentioned, and moments later this gentleman walks up to me and strikes up a conversation, and that was it.”

It was the beginning of a remarkable romance – and 16 years of immigration paperwork, legal bills and concern about separation. A few months after they met, Brian moved to the United States and began studying interior design, so he was able to obtain a student visa. David kept working as a town administrator. Brian was eventually able to get a H-1B visa to work as a designer, and he applied for his green card. In 2008, the two got married in Massachusetts, but David still couldn’t sponsor Brian for a spousal visa. They became outspoken about immigration reform – and including so-called “binational” same-sex couples – in the recent Senate bill, Colton says.

“We worked with Immigration Equality," he said. "We were actually part of the team that went down to Washington to lobby for that bill. And we were extremely disappointed and angry that the Democrats on the Senate committee decided not to amend the bill in committee, because that’s where we had the best shot."

“Every person we met had something to say, ‘You know that’s the Supreme Court's decision,’” Khoo said.

And it turned out to be a Supreme Court decision.

“Because immigration law is federal, DOMA prevented lawfully married lesbian and gay couples from obtaining lawful permanent resident status – or green cards - through marriage,” said Eva Millona, director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. “Now that DOMA is struck down, an American citizen can submit a green card application for their same-sex spouse and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service will adjudicate this application.”

That means the process for obtaining a green card, and eventually citizenship, should be sped up. Millona says this is good news for everyone, not just couples such as Colton and Khoo.

“It’s a great thing because it also reduces the possibilities of illegal immigration," she said. "You know people who can now be sponsored, they don’t have to overstay their visas and stay in limbo or with a status that doesn’t allow them to have lawful presence here.”

That sentiment was echoed this past week by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who said her department is working to ensure that the Supreme Court's ruling is swiftly implemented. Not only will the Supreme Court's decision remove the threat of deportation from couples such as Colton and Khoo, it’ll also allow them to simply travel outside the U.S. After trouble at customs on a trip to Malaysia years ago, they’ve been wary.

"We did not travel overseas for at least 9 years," Khoo said.

"So Brian did not see his mother, his sister, his father, his grandmother, anybody in his family for years because we were just so afraid to leave the country,” Colton added.

The couple still has questions – how they’ll file taxes, for example, or when they can add Khoo to the deed of their summer house in Provincetown. They expect the answers will come from the federal government soon. But at least the biggest question was answered by the Supreme Court.