At first we were all like, “If Obama thinks the Defense of Marriage Act is so unconstitutional, then why’s he always using it to break up gay couples?” But after this weekend we’re all like, “Whoa gurl. Maybe Obama’s not into that business that anymore.”
After a Denver immigration judge decided not to deport Mexican national Sujey Pando because no one knows what the hell is going on with DOMA, Barry O stepped into two other DOMA deportation cases and was like, ‘Nuh-uh, britches.’
First stop was the Edie Windsor case. You remember Edie. Her partner died and she had to pay mad crazy estate taxes on her inheritance just because DOMA doesn’t recognize their marriage. Well, the Department of Justice filed a memorandum basically saying that Paul Clement and the Republican-led Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group are wrong for trying to get the case dismissed.
The only other time that the DOJ has ever bothered filing anything in a DOMA case was in the Golinski case over medical benefits. You remember, that’s when the DOJ issued that huge fuck-off 31-page brief explaining all the ways the U.S. government has screwed queers throughout history—it was awesome.
But after the DOJ’s badassery on behalf of Mrs. Windsor, Immigration and Customs Enforcement decided to drop the deportation case against Venezuelan spouse Alex Benshimol just like they did in the case of Henry Velandia. In short, the Department of Justice basically said, “Stop this specific deportation until we take a closer look at DOMA.”
We weren’t sure whether this meant that Alex now get a green card, if he’s 100 percent safe from ever be deported, or if he’s now in some sort of weird legal limbo. So we asked Benshimol’s lawyer Lavi Soloway. Here’s what Soloway had to say:
This means that ICE (which is part of the Department of Homeland Security) has decided not to pursue the deportation of Alex Benshimol, because, according to guidelines published on June 17, his deportation has been determined not to be a priority for the administration. ICE has no power to give Alex any kind of status but they can choose to end a deportation action. After considering his marriage to Doug, Doug’s pending green card petition for Alex, Alex’s strong ties to his community, the fact that they could not move to Venezuela and live their as a gay couple, etc they decided to drop the case. Alex can stay in the US indefinitely with Doug without fear of deportation. The couple will remain part of the struggle for full equality and will keep fighting for approval of their marriage base green card petition.
It’s really important that this not be misunderstood-he was in limbo before, he is now safe from deportation. What the Obama administration is doing in these cases is halting deportations, now they must take the next step and direct USCIS, a different agency within DHS, to stop denying green card petitions filed by married lesbian and gay binational couples. We will continue to fight for an “abeyance” policy at USCIS to ensure protection of all binational couples, including those not facing deportation proceedings.
So it looks like the DOMA deportation train may be slowing down. But these couples only represent a handful of the actual LGBTs affected by DOMA. We’re curious, do you know of any couples currently being threatened by a DOMA deportation? If so, we’d like to talk. Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org