Yesterday we asked “Is Shirley Tan Out Of Options to Stay In the U.S.?” Now we find out: No, she’s not. The lesbian mother of two threatened with deportation back to the Philippines has been granted a two week emergency stay.
With the help of Rep. Jackie Speier and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the Department of Homeland Security agreed to let Tan, a resident of California’s Bay Area, stay in the U.S. until April 22, giving her a bit more time to argue her case that she should be allowed to stay in the country.
The decision “gives them hope,” says Melanie Nathan, a Marin County mediator working with the couple.
It also points out how important it is for federal recognition of same-sex marriage. Points out advocacy group Marriage Equality: “The right to sponsor Ms Tan has been cruelly denied Ms. Mercado throughout their long relationship. Like some 36,000 binational couples in the U.S. and around the world, had they been in a heterosexual marriage, Ms. Mercado would have sponsored her spouse for permanent residency long ago. However, because all Federal law is written in a way that explicitly excludes same-sex couples from enjoying 1,138 benefits of marriage, Ms. Mercado and Ms. Tan have not been able to enjoy one of these benefits, and have had unfair and unequal treatment under the law as a result. Should Ms. Tan ultimately find herself deported, her family will have to make the difficult decision of whether to stay in the U.S., the children no longer able to be with their own mother, or to leave behind the only life they have known. Had a law like the Uniting American Families Act (H.R. 1024; S.424), currently in committee in the house and senate, been on the books, this family would be happily living their lives like any other family. Instead, they fear being torn apart because the heads of their household are two people of the same gender. “