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UPDATED: US Attorney General Makes “Extraordinary” Move To End Deportation of LGBT Spouses

Henry Velandia and Josh Vandiver

UPDATE, 12:15pm PST: Attorney Lavi Solloway comments: “This development could be a sign that the Obama administration is looking for a way to protect gay and lesbian bi-national couples who are currently barred from the regular marriage-based immigration process by the Defense of Marriage Act … Tomorrow, another New Jersey couple faces an Immigration Judge at a final deportation hearing in Newark. We will ask the Immigration Judge to adjourn proceedings in light of today’s action by the Attorney General.”

UPDATE, 12:30pm PST: Ground Report observes that it would have been even better if Holder had actually ruled on DOMA, rather than just asking the BIA to reconsider. According to Matthew Kolken, this is a “punt.” AMERICAblog chimes in and notes that there may be implications for Henry Velandia’s hearing tomorrow.

UPDATE, 12:45pm PST: Here’s a list of some of the couples facing deportation right now whose cases might be affected by this amazing news.

ORIGINAL POST:

Metro Weekly is reporting that Attorney General Eric Holder, in a stunning move, has vacated a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals, and has recommended specific findings with regard to cancellation of deportation.

This is huge.

In other words: Holder is saying to the BIA: “stop this specific deportation. Look at what’s going on with DOMA. Think very long and hard about whether you should be deporting a couple that has a civil union.” (Our words, not his.)

Why is this so big? Well, for a couple of reasons. First, it means that the Attorney General of the United States is interested enough in doing the right thing that he is personally intervening in individual appeals for citizenship. Second, it means that he’s not satisfied with the “Super-DOMA” rulings that are forcing unnecessary deportations.

But the biggest deal of all is that this is a case in which the respondent has a civil union — not a marriage. This is a huge huge huge deal for all the bi-national couples in states that do not have marriage. It means that it might be enough to get a civil union if you want to keep your partner in this country.

Now, this doesn’t mean that anything has been decided. The BIA could still take a careful look at DOMA and civil unions and decide, “no, we’re still going to deport gays.” But it’s equivalent to your boss saying “are you suuuuuuure you want to do that?” So if nothing else, it’s likely to give them pause.

This will no doubt prompt some mouth-foaming from anti-gays about how it proves that civil unions are just marriage by any other name. And while it’s true that civil unions afford many of the same protections as marriage — because that it the whole point of why they exist — you can shut that argument up pretty quickly by saying, “well, if it’s the same thing as marriage, why don’t you go get one?”

This is a developing story and we’ll have more analysis as more experts weigh in. But for now: amazing, wonderful, very promising news indeed.

By:           matt baume
On:           May 5, 2011
Tagged: , , ,
  • 6 Comments
    • Cam
      Cam

      Wow, this is kinda huge.

      May 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • scottg
      scottg · Queerty Editor

      So excited to see the administration making steps in the right direction. Even if it’s a procedural step or a “punt”, it’s better than a complete ignoring of the issue.

      May 5, 2011 at 3:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Lonnie
      Lonnie

      The Obama administration is NOT “looking for a way to protect gay and lesbian bi-national couples who are currently barred from the regular marriage-based immigration process by the Defense of Marriage Act”, Obamanauts.

      Obama doesn’t love you. He doesn’t cry at night because you are not equal. He couldn’t give a shit about you. He is a politician and politicians politick.

      If he was as concerned about you as YOU IMAGINE HE IS, he wouldn’t have punted the Defense of DOMA to Boner. He would have used his position as THE MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE WORLD to denounce DOMA and DEMAND ITS REPEAL in the two fucking years he and his queer-hating party had complete control of the White House and both Houses of Congress.

      You can’t take a queer fishing because THEY ALWAYS TAKE THE BAIT.

      May 5, 2011 at 6:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Lonnie
      Lonnie

      STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP IMAGINING THE MOTIVES OF POLITICIANS. STOP PUTTING WORDS INTO THE MOUTHS OF BIGOTS. STOP LYING ABOUT WHY POLITICIANS DO WHAT THEY DO.

      Is Queerty nothing more than “Fags who Worship Democrats.com”?

      May 5, 2011 at 6:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Amargosa
      Amargosa

      This is just crazy. Why tear apart married couples. As much as we like to copy stuff from the USA maybe they should have a look on this topic at Germany. ;)

      May 6, 2011 at 2:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Yaël
      Yaël

      This decision may be a trial-balloon (cue: bad pun) or temporary, but it is an important and timely one. It’s also a tentative slap at DOMA, and a step in the right direction for binational couples.

      Dare I point out that cybertroll Lonnie appears to have lost his ability to shift from UPPER CASE to lower case? Perhaps he’s new to the internet or just numbingly daft?

      May 7, 2011 at 5:49 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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