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US Government

Immigration Judge Halts Deportation of Married Gay Colombian Following Supreme Court’s DOMA Decision

Sean Brooks DOMA

Sean Brooks (L) and his husband Steven. (Photo: Facebook)

A New York immigration judge has halted deportation proceedings against a gay Colombian who is legally married to an American man.

The judge’s action came immediately after Wednesday’s historic US Supreme Court ruling that declared a key provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) an unconstitutional violation of the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

Sean Brooks, a 46-year-old musician and DJ, married his Colombian husband Steven in New York, where such unions have been legal since June 2011. But under DOMA, which federally codified marriage as the union of one man and one woman, the couple’s marriage was not legitimate and Steven’s green card petition was cancelled.

Steven attempted to persuade the immigration court to halt deportation proceedings against him, arguing that his husband would likely face hardship without him. But his appeal was denied since their marriage did not exist in the eyes of the federal government.

“It makes a mockery of the victory of marriage equality (in New York) to know that the most powerful government in this country, the federal government in Washington DC, refuses to recognize our marriage because of the Defense of Marriage Act,” Brooks wrote on the DOMA Project website. “The would just as soon deport Steven even though we have been together as a couple for seven years and we are legally married.”

As of Wednesday, however, the portion of DOMA dealing with recognition of marriages in matters regarding spousal benefits, tax filing and, crucially in this case, immigration issues has been struck down. And just minutes after the historic decision was announced, DOMA Project posted on its Facebook page that a New York City immigration judge had stopped deportation proceedings against Steven.

The impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling was immediate and life-changing for at least one couple.

“It’s very surreal, almost as if someone said: ‘Oh, now you can do the life that you thought you were going to do,'” Brooks told Agence France-Presse. As for Steven, he’s “relieved” to know he’ll soon be receiving permanent US residency status, allowing him to work in the United States and travel abroad.

“Before, it wasn’t even worth having those types of dreams because we knew they couldn’t happen,” Brooks told AFP.

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