Oh, sure, you know all about DOMA, the federal anti-gay law that prohibits marriage. But did you know about Super-DOMA, a law that forces federal employees to go above and beyond existing statutes and create extra limitations on LGBT citizens?
If you answered, “gosh, no,” that is probably because Super-DOMA does not actually exist. At least, you won’t find it on the books. But that hasn’t stopped U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from making up new rules from thin air in order to separate Josh Vandiver from his Venezuelan husband, Henry Velandia.
Apparently, immigration officials are so panic-stricken over the thought of protecting gay families that they have magically imbued DOMA with all sorts of new powers and punishments that it does not actually have.
The facts are these: Henry and Josh are legally married. That marriage isn’t recognized by the federal government. Henry is a citizen of Venezuela, and the United States has started deportation proceedings. Henry and Josh asked for “prosecutorial discretion,” which is another way of saying “please make an exception for us due to our special circumstances.” The government does this all the time for straight couples. But for Henry and Josh, they said, in essence, “nope, sorry, DOMA prohibits us from doing that.”
That’s a peculiar response, since DOMA does not, in fact, do anything of the sort. Actually, “peculiar” is probably not the right word for it. Maybe “monstrous” is a better description for forcibly separating a married couple simply to satisfy a law that doesn’t even exist.
Feeling outraged yet? Well, luckily you can channel that anger into some productive action. Everyone can tell their Representative and U.S. Senators to join Representatives Rush Holt, Zoe Lofgren, and 65 other members of the House and Senate who have called on DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to stop all deportations of spouses of gay and lesbian Americans. Also, this Friday, May 6th from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm there will be a rally in front of Newark Immigration Court in New Jersey, the very same courthouse where Henry’s fate will be decided later that day.