Thanks to D.O.M.A. and Obama, San Francisco Man who is Sole Caretaker of AIDS-Afflicted Husband is Deported from U.S.
The Obama administration and the Department of Homeland Security have rejected pleas from a legally married gay couple to intervene to halt the deportation of one of the men, an Australian citizen who is the sole caretaker of his AIDS-afflicted American husband.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the federal government cited the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in denying immigration benefits to Anthony John Makk, an Australian citizen, and Bradford Wells, his American husband. The couple has been together for 19 years, living in San Francisco’s Castro district for most of that time. They were legally married seven years ago in Massachusetts, one of only six states (plus the District of Columbia) that allow such marriages.
But the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services denied Makk’s application for permanent residency, citing DOMA, the 1996 law that denies same-sex couples the same government benefits afforded to married heterosexual couples. Despite the fact that both President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have declared DOMA to be unconstitutional, that the administration has stated it will no longer defend DOMA in court and that the Department of Homeland Security and that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are allowed to exercise discretion in individual cases, Makk has been given until August 25 to leave the country.
“The claimed relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary is not a petitionable relationship,” the government decision stated. “For a relationship to qualify as a marriage for purposes of federal law, one partner must be a man and the other a woman,” it added, citing a provision of DOMA.
“I’m married just like any other married person in this country,” Wells told the Chronicle. “At this point, the government can come in and take my husband and deport him. It’s infuriating. It’s upsetting. I have no power, no right to keep my husband in this country. I love this country, I live here, I pay taxes and I have no right to share my home with the person I married.”
“Anyone can identify with the horror of having the government come in and destroy your family when you’ve done nothing wrong, and you’ve done everything right, followed every law,” he added.
To make matters worse, Makk is the sole caregiver to Wells, who suffers from AIDS.
Despite personally appealing to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and President Barack Obama, and despite the fact that Makk meets many of the requirements of an ICE memo meant to guide agents in their discretionary decisions on who can and cannot stay in the country (he is married to an American citizen, is the primary caretaker of an ill citizen, has no criminal history and has legally lived in the U.S. for many years), it appears as if Makk will have to leave later this month.
While decrying DOMA as unconstitutional, the Obama administration has made it clear that it will continue to enforce the discriminatory law while exercising discretion in individual cases. However, Steve Ralls, spokesman for the advocacy group Immigration Equality, told the Chronicle that such discretion has not been afforded to “a single gay or lesbian couple yet.”
Tagged aids, attorney general eric holder, bradford wells, d.o.m.a., defense of marriage act, Department of Homeland Security, DOMA, gay married couple loses immigration battle, i.c.e., Immigration and Customs Enforcement, immigration equality, janet napolitano, john makk, john makk bradford wells, john makk deportation, marriage equality, Obama administration, obama administration won't defend doma, obama DOMA, obama says doma unconstitutional, President Barack Obama, same-sex marriage, same-sex marriage massachusetts, steve ralls, u.s. citizenship and immigration services