Gay Couple Married Seven Years Loses Battle with U.S. Immigration and DOMA, Gets Deportation Order

Bradford Wells and Australian Anthony John Makk, who have lived together for 19 years and were married seven years ago in Massachusetts, have lost their battle with U.S. immigration and DOMA, the SF Chronicle reports.

Makk The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services denied Makk's application to be considered for permanent residency as a spouse of an American citizen, citing the 1996 law that denies all federal benefits to same-sex couples.

The decision was issued July 26. Immigration Equality, a gay-rights group that is working with the couple, received the notice Friday and made it public Monday. Makk was ordered to depart the United States by Aug. 25. Makk is the sole caregiver for Wells, who has severe health problems.

Despite please to Janet Napolitano and Barack Obama to intervene, the couple has lost their case:

The agency's decision cited the Defense of Marriage Act as the reason for the denial of an I-130 visa, or spousal petition that could allow Makk to apply for permanent U.S. residency. "The claimed relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary is not a petitionable relationship," the decision said. "For a relationship to qualify as a marriage for purposes of federal law, one partner must be a man and the other a woman."

The couple also says they met several requirements in an enforcement memorandum issued by ICE's director, John Morton in June:

Aside from being a spouse of an American citizen, Makk is also the primary caretaker of a citizen, has no criminal history, and has legally resided in the country under various visas for many years.

Wells and Makk must now decide whether to spend more money to file a motion to reconsider after spending $2,000 to file the petition that was denied. Immigration Equality and Rep. Nancy Pelosi are both working to help the couple, but the future is very uncertain.

SF Married Couple Loses Immigration Battle [sf chronicle]


  1. says

    America should be disgustingly embarrassed by this story. This is tragic and sad beyond words.

    It’s a good thing America was not built with the dreams and hopes of immigrants… oh, wait…

  2. Daniel says

    Remember, the authorities have discretion and don’t have to deport them … other gay couples have been spared deportation and yet here is a situation of life and death. F*** Obama.

  3. Billy says

    @Daniel, I can almost guarantee Obama hasn’t heard about this particular case… Which is why we need to spread this story around, call the White House (202-456-1111) asking them to intervene, call Min. Leader Pelosi’s office (202-225-4965) to thank her for what she is doing and encourage her to do more…

  4. yonkersconquers says

    Reading this just set my hair on fire. This issue is the FRONTLINE of the marriage equality debate and if we let this drop then we deserve our second class status.

  5. Rowan says

    Oh but Bill it’s so much more fun to say f*ck Obama when the president has called DOMA unconstitutional. Isn’t it? I wonder how much this guy froths at the mouth when Andy posts about GOP gays and the right wing.

    Anyway, poor guys.

  6. Francis says

    Absolutely disgusting beyond words. Pathetic. Hopefully something can be done to spare this couple this potentially unspeakable tragedy that could tear them apart.

  7. Robert in NYC says

    Make no mistake, if it were Bachmann or any of those radical right wing scumbags in the White House, they’d even prevent immigration of gay people to the U.S. This isn’t Obama’s fault. We do NOT have marriage equality in this country, not even in the six states that allow same-sex marriage. NO republican, including tea party scumbags and the civil libertarian leadership under Ron Paul support repeal of DOMA. At least Obama has said it’s unconstitutional. GOPRouders do NOT support repeal of DOMA either.

  8. Brian says

    One tiny silver lining here is that at least the non-US partner is Australian. Even though they won’t recognise the marriage in Australia, they’re very good about granting residency to same sex partners.

  9. ohplease says

    Thank you, Barry, for lying to us when you told us in your campaign that you would repeal DOMA.

    Thank you, Barry, also for having your DOJ viciously fight to defend DOMA for two years, comparing our marriages to incest and pedophilia, and lying — for two years — about how you had no choice but to defend the law.

    And then, Barry, you only admitted that you were lying all along and never had to defend the law once the Republicans were safely in control of Congress and there was no chance whatsoever for repeal of DOMA.

    This bigotry is all yours, Barry. This couple’s misery is all yours. When this man loses his husband and his primary caregiver and the USA loses an upstanding citizen, the shame, also, Barry, is all yours.

    Barack Hussein Obama is not your friend. What the hell more does he have to do to you before some of you finally get that? Does he have to come for your husband, too?

  10. Janice says

    Yes, they could go to Australia, where you can sponsor your same-sex partner for permanent residency, but why should they? They have built a life together here. This disgusting treatment would never happen to a heterosexual couple.
    It costs same-sex bi-national couples many thousands of dollars to be able to stay together, while heterosexual bi-national couples pay a small fraction to petition for residency, and then the foreign partner is allowed to work here; something that in the bi-national situation isn’t granted……more financial burden! I know about this because I am the foreign half of a same-sex bi-national couple. I am here legally, but the financial burden is crippling us as it is with so many others in the same situation. Next year I could be in the same position that Anthony is in right now.
    DOMA needs to die now once and for all. The likes of John Boehner and Paul Clements (his legal lackey) are lying their heads off with same old homophobic lies they have been spouting for years on why they think DOMA should remain law.
    It is discrimination and victimization pure and simple. Obama has the power to put an end to this here and now!!!
    We cannot waste a moment more, otherwise it could slip away from us next year.

  11. sparks says

    God forbid a gay couple with a more successful marriage than 99% of straight couples be allowed to remain together in this country.

    It kills me how “traditional marriage” advocates can spend so much energy fighting against gay people who wish to be in monogamous committed relationships, yet never put an ounce of effort into banning divorce — which actually DOES impact straight marriages and breaks up families.

    Well, at least Nancy Pelosi is involved in this case. She might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but she is a very determined lady and a vigilant worker.

  12. Shane says

    Thank the Dems for not getting rid of DOMA while they had supermajority. With DOMA in place, we will continue to be treated as second class citizens.

  13. says

    America should be embarrassed – but why isn’t this couple migrating to Australia where they would easily obtain a de facto visa to work and live (with health insurance – BONUS!)
    ?? Australia does have this ugly red headed, red-necked (oh, to hear her speak!!) atheist woman against gay marriage (irony personified) but at least they could be together.
    More importantly, the AUS $$ is worth more than the US $$!

  14. Mark says

    so much for the Obama Campaign pop up ad running on this site where they bray about his support of marriage equality….actions speak a lot louder than paid campaign blabber

  15. Bryan says

    This is absolutely terrible. I thought similar proceedings were trending the other way. Perhaps Bradford and Anthony would benefit from new legal representation. A couple I know has had recent success overcoming DOMA Deportation with the help of the folks over at the DOMA Project
    I hope this message gets to Bradford and Anthony. Thoughts and prayers with both of you.

  16. Solace123 says

    “America: We only acknowledge straight white dudes.”

    I recall a second prominent historic war where that slogan could have been used as a rallying cry for a certain European nation.

    Land of the free and home of the brave indeed…

  17. Randy says

    For DOMA to work, someone has to enforce it. People of good conscience would quit their jobs, rather than separate a married couple this way.

    Shame must be brought upon the people who did this, starting with Obama, and all the way down to the clerk who sent the deportation order.

  18. David N says

    Everyone needs to calm down. This San Francsico Chronicle article is factually incorrect on key points, the most important one being that this person is not being deported.

    USCIS and the administration have no choice but to deny the petition for permanent residence.  USCIS has always done that. It was expected to happen for this couple as for all other gay couples who file for green cards on the basis of their marriage. It’s not new and it’s not the same thing as being deported. USCIS cannot approve a green card application based on marriage because DOMA explicitly bars any branch of the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage. Another inaccuracy: USCIS doesn’t deport people. Immigration and Customs Enforcement does. So what was reported by SF Chronicle is not true, starting with the provocative but misleading title, “S.F. gay married couple loses immigration battle.”

    It’s true that the president has ordered the justice department to stop defending DOMA in court.   But just because they aren’t defending it in court doesn’t mean the administration can simply pretend DOMA doesn’t exist.  There’s a lot of confusion about this so it bears repeating: the administration cannot simply ignore DOMA and recognize gay couples as married for all federal laws and make them eligible for green cards.  The president does not have that power. Period.  Congress has to repeal DOMA or the courts have to overturn it. However, the president does have power to determine how our deportation laws are enforced and this administration has shown that it can do that in a way that does protect gay couples.

    Also, and the SF Chronicle article gets this wrong too, the USICS’ denial of the green card case DOES NOT mean that the Australian will get deported in a month.  In fact, what will probably happen and probably would have happened even without this article getting everyone riled up, is that Australian partner will be allowed to stay in the US through what is called prosecutorial discretion, thanks to the Obama administration. Discretion is something that USCIS doesn’t have, but that immigration prosecutors do have… because the Obama administration has specifically directed them to exercise that discretion.  In other words, the prosecutors at Immigration will, through legal means, postpone action on the case for several years or even indefinitely.  They will do this precisely because word has come down to stop deportations of non-criminals with humanitarian circumstances like a gay couple being torn apart.  There have now been several cases this year, reported widely in the media, where same-sex couples in similar circumstances have been allowed to stay together in the US through prosecutorial discretion and there’s every reason to believe this will happen in this case too.  So before everyone starts pointing fingers at the President they should read up on those cases and see that the administration is actually helping gay binational couples facing deportation. Obama has chosen to enforce some laws with less vigor — that’s what prosecutorial discretion is.  And it is something that many married binational couples can be thankful for because you can be sure a Republican administration would not be giving them this consideration.

    Getting it wrong, as this article does, has real world implications.  First and foremost, it sends out the erroneous impression that the Obama administration isn’t working to help gay people who are discriminated against by DOMA. That is simply incorrect in this context (though certainly correct in others) and it only helps to dampen support for Obama which could very well lead to an openly anti-gay President like Mitt Romney or Rick Perry getting elected. Then those that complain about Obama isn’t going fast enough will really have something to cry about.  But more importantly, it sends a message to binational couples that there is no hope for staying together when that is actually not the case. And that means people might actually make choices about their lives together based on misinformation.  This administration is not perfect and we have to keep to hold them to the promise of full equality, but we should be more careful to understand  and appreciate the progress that has taken place in the past few months because of the administration in this very context.

  19. DN says

    I’ve read about this couple before, and if I remember right, they can’t move to Australia because the one man is so unwell he might not survive the trip.

    But besides, as others have pointed out, and as I have said a million times (I’m a gay immigrant, too), they shouldn’t have to.

    But what *really* steams me here is that even if this couple wasn’t married, they meet all the requirements for a different class of visa and they’re being denied there because they’re a gay couple.

    A vote for anyone but Obama in 2012 is a vote for misery for gay people. The only Republican candidate who has stated anything *close* to support for gay immigrants is Huntsman (and it’s pretty effing tepid support, frankly).

  20. X says

    Yet another betrayal by my own “country”! Argh! Someone has to fight back against these blatant, blatant injustices! Are they trying to make traitors out of us? I’m sick of this! Who is going to fix this?! *We have to do it ourselves!*

  21. Brian says

    This is tragic and I am glad that Nancy Pelosi is helping them out. For all of the tired gays blaming Obama/Barry, get a new song! The “Obama is to blame for all of America’s bigotry” is tired, not true and isn’t even pleasant to the ears.

    Get upset with yourselves for sitting behind a computer casting aspersions rather than getting out there and fighting to make a difference!

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