Gay Couple Married in Massachusetts are Reunited After Immigration Officials Grant Foreign Spouse Temporary Asylum


In March 2009, I posted about Tim Coco and Genesio Oliveira, who were married in Massachusetts in 2005, but were separated in 2007 after Oliveira's requests of asylum were denied and he was forced to return to Brazil. Because the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage, foreign spouses of gay married citizens are not protected under immigration laws.

Back in 2009, John Kerry was trying to help the couple. It appears to have worked, at least for the time being, the Boston Globe reports:

On Wednesday, Oliveira returned to Massachusetts for an emotional reunion after federal immigration officials took the rare step of granting him permission to stay for one year on humanitarian grounds, clearing the way for him to try again for legal residency. His return followed personal appeals by Senator John F. Kerry, US Attorney General Eric Holder, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on their behalf.

“We’re overjoyed. Words can’t express it,’’ Coco, 49, an ad agency owner, said yesterday from their home in Haverhill, where he had decorated his yard with yellow ribbons to mark their long separation. “Every new moment now is a fresh new moment in our life.’’

Kerry called the couple heroes for persevering in their marriage.

“Here were two people who loved each other and were as committed to each other as you could ever imagine, and a quirk in the law was being allowed to keep them apart. I just wanted to do everything I could to reunite them,’’ he said in a statement.

Kerry also praised Napolitano and Holder, saying, “They really listened, and they righted this wrong.’’ Unlike heterosexuals, gays and lesbians cannot sponsor their immigrant spouses for legal US residency.

Cases like these are why passage of the Uniting American Families Act is so vital. As well as the repeal of DOMA, which prevents the federal government from recognizing anything other than a heterosexual marriage.


  1. Vince says

    This is wonderful news! I applaud the work of Kerry, Holder & Napolitano in this case. Write your congress persons today and ask them to support the Uniting American Families Act and to support the repeal of DOMA!

  2. Kyle says

    i like this , and it is really amazing !
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  3. Bryan Irrera says

    1)Can someone please flag/remove Kyle’s comment as spam?

    2) That’s awesome good news. I’m especially happy to see that they live in my grandmother’s hometown (Haverhill – also the hometown of the original creator of Archie Comics AND the hometown of rocker Rob Zombie).

  4. yonkersconquers says

    This is groundbreaking news. It’s about time that immigration laws acknowledged the rights of committed same-sex couples (there are tens of thousands of them) for immigration purposes.

    Marriage equality at the federal level is the only way to ensure equality in law. But this is a small and significant step in the right direction.

  5. D. R. H. says

    I’m so excited, and completely shocked, to read about this story. I never thought that something like this could happen at all, or even in the near future, in America. As a Canadian who lives in the US full-time, I am frustrated that I can not obtain resident status based on a committed, loving relationship like my straight peers can. My relationship of five years eventually ended, in part, because of the strain caused by this unfair and unjust policy. I truly hope that this will begin a reversal of something which ruins so many possible loving, committed relationships between American and non-American partners.

  6. says

    le sigh, I’ve known Tim Coco since 1985 and your comment is way out of line – and probably motivated by sheer jealousy.

    And, Bryan Irrera, Haverhill is also the hometown of the Benedetti’s Rocket.

  7. New Jersey Girl says

    Kerry makes a personal breakthrough by doing the right thing! Where the hell was this kind of clear-thinking political Savvy when he was running for president.

    Kerry let those damn rethugnican Swift-boaters stomp all over him.

    Imagine the world we would have had if he had stood up for himself like he did for these two!

  8. Michael @ says

    Kerry’s been fighting for this for a year?

    Obama Inc., finally agrees?

    Why, it must be Throw a Bone to The Gays Month….excuse me, June.

  9. Raul says

    @lesigh One day youll be old and you better have enough money to pay for your bride or find true love.

    And this case is true love… They have been fighting so hard to be together… Must of us dont even want to date the guy that lives in the other side of town.

    They are fighting against the very old and unfair US MIGRATION SYSTEM to be a family. I hope everything works for them and keep fighting. This is very good news.

  10. HawaiiBill says

    It was only a matter of time before cranky Aunt Gladys showed up to throw a bowl of bile on any kind of progress instead of acknowleging a victory.

    Congratulations Tim and Genecio…you are now a precedent that can be built on.

  11. don says

    “A quirk in the law”, Mr Kerry? No, this is the law, not a quirk in it. While I applaud your hard work over the course of a year on behalf of this couple, the injustice they endured was caused when a law that was passed on your watch WAS FOLLOWED. You worked a year to get a one-year temporary stay for this man, but none of what you did ought to have been necessary. By not acknowledging the real cause of this travesty, my fear is you therefore also lack the conviction to fight for the rights of the legally married people of your own state who do not enjoy their full federal rights as a result of an act of the congress you are part of.

  12. DN says

    Agreed, Don. As the foreign half of a bi-national couple, I had to live in separation from my boyfriend for four years until I got my green card.

    UAFA can’t come fast enough. It won’t help me because I now have that precious green card, but it can help of thousands of others. That, and it’s just the right thing to do :)

  13. Patric says

    Don, why is Senator Kerry the target of your anger and frustration? I agree with you that this wonderful victory for this particular couple does not solve the inequality faced more generally by thousands of same-sex, mixed citizenship couples, inequality which can only be addressed, as Andy points out, by passage of the UAFA. However, Senator Kerry, who was one of only 13 Senators to bravely vote against DOMA in 1996, was one of the original 14 co-sponsors of the UAFA. In addition to the bill’s sponsor Senator Leahy of Vermont, there are 23 co-sponsors in the Senate. Twenty-three of these 24 Senators are Democrats, with the one exception being Senator Sanders of Vermont, who is a socialist who caucuses with Democrats. Notably, not a single one of the “moderate” Republicans championed by the Log Cabin crowd has co-sponsored the bill, which undoubtedly will need 60 votes to pass because of Republican obstructionism. (You may not be aware that Senator Kerry is not a dictator who can impose his preferred immigration or other policies on the country without regard to the anti-gay preferences of other Senators like one Scott Brown.)

    A good place for all of us to direct our rage and frustration when reading this story would be Log Cabin Republicans and their ilk. Had every gay and lesbian Ohioan who voted for Bush/Cheney in 2004 in fact voted for Senator Kerry, history might have taken a very different course on several fronts. Then again, we should hardly expect gay Republicans not to stand in the way of progress for our community.

  14. Timzilla says

    This it great news for them. As one-half of a committed binational couple, any time we have together we cherish and hold dear. To have an entire year would be amazing. I hope that UAFA comes about soon for us all.

  15. AZGAYDUDE says

    This makes me so happy for them – and I wish our immigration laws would catch up. My partner is a foreigner and it’s been hell figuring out how to keep him in the country. If we were straight, there would be no issue at all.

  16. Jason says

    Le Sigh: I also have a distant connection to Tim Coco (my husband is from Haverhill, and it’s a pretty tight-knit place) and think your comment/accusation is pretty disgusting and out of line. Seriously, who are you to judge, especially in light of such a major victory?

    Also, there’s a huge Brazilian population in the Boston area–they are generally the largest contingent that closes out the Pride parade every year–so there’s really nothing unusual about a Brazilian-American partnership in the area.

  17. EoinM says

    The ugly person in the room is you.

    Inside and out, no doubt.


    I wonder if the fat one’s the american. Why are there so many fuckin’ ugly people in this country?! LOL! Good for them.

  18. raz says

    It’s a great news, I wish them all the happiness. I am in the same situation like Tim and Genesio. Separated from my beloved hubby because of the immigration law. We have been together for 13 years and married, 9 years in Boston (I was studying there) but due to my visa status I have to shipped out of Boston. Day by day I am praying the Obama administration will change the immigration law especially for same sex couple. I don’t know how much longer I can take to be away from my husband and friends in Boston. To everyone please support the change in immigration law for same sex couple.

  19. mj says

    It’s groundbreaking news a great step in the right direction but if the LGBT rights movement wants to win this debate they need to win over the centrists in America. This means focusing on putting forward people that Middle America will sympathise with… gay war veterans, suburban parents who love their gay sons, well adjusted kids of gay parents, etc. Middle America reads this story and sees pretty Brazilian with gross American = fake marriage. Same goes with having disgraced celebrities like DLB be spokespeople for the cause. We hold the high moral in this debate. Let’s not throw that away.

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