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


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  • hyhybt

    It at least fixes things for people in some states. This is one of those areas where it really matters, though, whether federal recognition is for everywhere or only so long as you stay in the right place. There’s a big difference between having to take a couple of days to get an out-of-state wedding and having to pack up and move your life.

  • Dakotahgeo

    Damn! That IS good news! Now my foreign-born partner can start making plans immediately for his journey to the USA and marriage! Inch by inch…!

  • Fidelio

    I’m confused and a bit concerned about info being put out there about their circumstances. I’m not sure that even though people can now petition for green cards for their spouses, does the striking down of DOMA permit those overstaying their Visa relief? I mean, being here undocumented is not necessarily forgiven, unless the green card was filed prior to himi losing legal status, in which case there is an argument to be made for filing retroactively, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Anyone know the specifics?

  • Devour You

    Great as if Latinos and Asians were not obsessed enough with white dudes. Now every old white gay man will be married to a young foreign brown guy :-|

  • hyhybt

    @Devour You: That hardly seems likely. It’s more like the sort of thing I’d expect those who are anti-gay to concoct to scare those who are anti-immigration into opposing marriage.

  • jwrappaport

    Go judicial interns!

  • Fidelio

    @twoguysbrooklyn: Thank you. It seems a persona here undocumented can get a green card even if their status had already expired. This is a huge deal.

  • Dakotahgeo

    @Devour You: Hey, whatever works. I’m 68 and my partner from Brazil is 38. He has been up here once, I’ve lived there with him, he now has a work visa and will be here when his two year teaching contract is up. He will be teaching Portugues and Spanish, and his English ain’t too shabby either, lol.

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