Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Judge Postpones Deportation Hearing for Same-Sex California Couple

Excellent news out of California!! Today, Immigration Judge Marilyn Teeter postponed the deportations hearings for a legally married same-sex couple. Alex Benshimol (Venezuelan) and his husband Doug Gentry (American) were being threatened with separation because the U.S. Government - being constrained by the Defense of Marriage Act - will not allow American citizens in a same-sex partnership to sponsor their spouse/partner.

     Today, Judge Teeter suspended the deportation hearing, giving the U.S. Justice Department sixty days to decide whether or not it would like to continue deportation hearings against the couple. According to Out4Immigration,
"Today the Immigration Judge demonstrated compassion and understanding for Doug and Alex as a married binational couple, granting them a reprieve from deportation by postponing further proceedings to September 2013," said Lavi Soloway, lawyer for Doug and Alex, and founder of Stop the Deportations. "The Judge also gave the government 60 days to inform the court whether it will agree with our request to terminate these proceedings pursuant to prosecutorial discretion guidelines issued June 17 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton. We will continue to advocate for termination of these proceedings and a moratorium on all deportations of spouses of lesbian and gay Americans."
     But, the excitement over Judge Teeters ruling is qualified, as Out4Immigration vice-president Mickey Lim makes clear.
There are thousands of same-sex binational couples who are still living with uncertainty because of the Defense of Marriage Act and many more that have already been exiled or separated by this unfair discriminatory law. We applaud Doug and Alex's courage to put a face on the issue and will continue to work towards securing equal immigration rights for same sex couples! We look forward to the day when we can welcome all of our friends and families back home!
     This is so true, and as one who is in a bi-national relationship myself, I know full well the constant fear and uncertainty regarding immigration laws. Though my husband and I have been very fortunate - the Canadian government allows couples to sponsor each other - the stark realities of the immigration situation constantly weigh on us in regards to future plans such as Law/Business school choices. Hopefully, this issue will become resolved in the near future, so that all couples - gay and straight - can live in the United States in security and without fear.

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