Keeping Families Together

Judge Stops Deportation Proceedings For Gay Spouse Minutes After DOMA Falls

Minutes after the Supreme Court ruling striking down DOMA, an immigration case in New York City highlighted just what the ruling means. An immigration judge there stopped deportation proceedings for a gay Colombian man married to a U.S. citizen. Sean Brooks and his husband Steven are participants in the DOMA Project, a group dedicated to advocating for same-sex bi-national couples.

The moments up to the proceedings being stopped were dramatic, says Lavi Soloway, co-founder of the DOMA Project. “A copy of the 77-page Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor was delivered to the court by our summer intern, Gabe, who ran five blocks and made it in time for the decision to be submitted to the Immigration Judge and to serve a copy on the Immigration & Customs Enforcement Assistant Chief Counsel.” Soloway added that the ruling “was still warm from the printer.”

Sean married Steven in 2011, after New York passed its marriage equality law. As the American citizen, Sean then filed for a green card for Steven, who has not been back to his native Colombia in 12 years. The move opened Steven up to deportation, which he had unsuccessfully fought on the grounds that it would cause hardship for Sean.

It doesn’t matter now. The ruling will stop bi-national spouses from being forcibly separated. It also solves the dilemma in Congress with immigration reform. Congress doesn’t have to make a decision about same-sex couples now, which is what it was hoping for all along anyway.

Photo credit: DOMA Project