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Deportation Imminent? Gay Couple in San Fran Loses Immigration Battle

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Remember Henry Velandia, the Venezuelan man who faced deportation, but successfully petitioned the U.S. government to remain in America as the legal spouse of American citizen Josh Vandiver?

While the Obama administration stepped in to halt Velandia's deportation, another couple in a similar situation may not be so lucky.

Anthony Makk, an Australian citizen who married an American -- Bradford Wells -- seven years ago, also faces deportation. The couple got married in Massachusetts and have lived together for the past 19 years.

In a case that paints a stark contrast to Velandia's, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has denied Makk's request to be considered for permanent residency. The federal agency has apparently pointed to the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that defines marriage as an institution between one man and one woman. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

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.

One reason this case is intriguing stems back to the July decision that allowed Velandia to stay in the America. Attorney General Eric Holder has publicly stated that the Obama administration will no longer support the Defense of Marriage Act in court, yet the situation surrounding it is somewhat complicated.

Although the administration has decided that the law is unconstitutional, House Republicans have hired outside counsel to defend it. In response, the administration claims that it will continue to enforce the law, but will evaluate individual cases. Critics claim that this evaluation simply isn't happening. The Chronicle continues:

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."

Makk claims that he has never been in the country illegally. He gave up a career in Australia to be with Wells and then started a business in San Francisco, investing in rental property so that he would meet visa mandates. According to Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi's office, the congresswoman has contacted immigration officials on the couple's behalf.

It is likely that Makk and Wells will seek to employ last-ditch attempts to ensure that Makk can stay within U.S. borders. While moving to Australia is an option, doing to would cut Wells off from his health insurance, which he desperately needs as he struggles with AIDS and relies on Makk to provide him with care.

(h/t San Francisco Chronicle)

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