Massachusetts Senator John Kerry has asked the Obama administration to grant asylum to Genesio Oliveira, a Brazilain national marries to Massachusetts resident Tim Coco. The couple has been separated since 2007, after Olivera’s requests were denied. Olivera says he was raped and attacked as a teenager and fears persecution for his sexuality in Brazil, though a judge said that he “was never physically harmed” by the rape. Kerry calls the ruling “outrageous.”
“In Brazil, judges have granted foreign partners in same-sex relationships the right to residence and have authorized civil unions that bestow many benefits of marriage to same-sex couples. But many segments of society remain openly hostile to gay men and lesbians.
The Department of Justice said Mr. Holder would review the letter and respond to Mr. Kerry, but officials would not comment.
In an interview Friday, Mr. Kerry said: “Nobody’s asking to overturn or change the federal law. This is really a humanitarian situation that deserves an appropriate focus.”
Mr. Kerry has co-sponsored a bill that would allow gay men and lesbians from other countries to become legal residents based on their permanent relationships with American citizens.
Immigrants can apply for residency if they marry American citizens, but the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriages under the Defense of Marriage Act, and Mr. Oliveira’s request to remain in the United States based on his relationship with Mr. Coco was denied last month.
Mr. Oliveira said he and Mr. Coco filed an appeal of that decision on Friday.
The couple met in 2002 and married in 2005.”
While Mr. Oliveira’s situation is horrible, his case only demonstrates the failure of DOMA in practice. That his case was denied based on the fact that his legal marriage isn’t recognized by the federal government is appalling. While he faces persecution in Brazil, Oliveira’s relationship is invisible here. Here’s hoping the DoJ and the Obama administration do the right thing.