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Alex Can Stay With His Husband, Doug… At Least Two More Years.

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A same-sex married couple in California received a two-year reprieve on an imminent deportation order at their last-chance hearing this morning. From Lavi Soloway's Stop The Deportations blog:

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – This morning in San Francisco, Doug Gentry and Alex Benshimol — a married binational same-sex couple — appeared before Immigration Judge Marilyn Teeter for a deportation hearing and were permitted to remain in the country despite the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the law that prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriages by the federal government. This is the latest in a series of recent court rulings that have demonstrated the inequality that DOMA forces same-sex couples to live under.

 
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Specifically, the judge laid out two options. She gave the government 60 days to decide whether it will agree to drop deportation proceedings against Alex — a Venezuelan citizen — altogether. If the government elects not to drop proceedings, the same judge will revisit the case again in September 2013, ensuring that Doug and Alex are protected from deportation for at least two more years allowing them to return to building a life together with their family, including Alex's two step-children.

“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.”

“Today's victory is yet another sign that when we engage the system and demand full equality we encourage those in power to find reasonable interim solutions that protect LGBT families, even as we fight to bring about an end to DOMA.  Doug and Alex showed tremendous courage standing up for all binational couples as they insisted on fighting for an end to the government's deportation proceedings against Alex.  After the hearing the couple went for a celebratory lunch and looked forward to spending time with their extended family including Doug's two children who consider Alex to be their step-father.  They are very relieved to have been given a two year reprieve and they will continue to fight for an end to DOMA deportations, Soloway said.”

More on their case here.

Doug and Alex benefited from a big show of support from the LGBT community and allies. Among the organizations that gathered petitions and attended rallies were API Equality, API Legal Outreach, Asian Law Caucus. Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Central American Resource Center, Chinese For Affirmative Action, Equality California, Immigration Equality, Love Honor Cherish, National Center For Lesbian Rights, National Immigration Justice Center, San Francisco Immigrant Legal And Education Network, and the San Francisco LGBT Center.

I really feel we are getting to a point where there will soon be a major breakthrough on this issue. Just my gut talking.

Time To Issue The Moratorium


It is time for the administration to issue a deportation moratorium on married same-sex couples and exercise the same discretion it is currently doing in not deporting widows. It's time to call a moratorium on all deportation orders until the such time that the Constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act is settled. Deporting spouses because of DOMA is, by the Department of Justice's own assessment, a violation of LGBT American's civil rights.

The difference relative to the continued denial of marriage equality is the consequences of deportation are very real, very harsh and may visit irreversible damage on gay people's families and their lives.

I've written on this before, this is not a whacky, fringe idea. Nor is it outside the administration's discretion. This has been endorsed by many respected immigration law experts and advocacy organizations, and prominent members of the House and Senate.

The Washington Post has also called on the administration to issue such an order saying:

Mr. Holder should erase any confusion by declaring a moratorium on removal of foreign nationals in state-recognized same-sex unions until federal courts determine DOMA’s constitutionality. He should ensure that the government is not focusing on breaking up otherwise law-abiding families.

Over and over, binational LGBT couples of late seem to be winning 11th hour reprieves, as Henry and Josh (below) did in May, which is wonderful, and something to celebrate.

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But it's time to put an end to the nail-biting and uncertainty the tens of thousands of other couples face as their deportation hearing dates draw near. Will they be the lucky ones granted reprieve by their Judge? Or will they meet a less sympathetic jurist and be torn apart?

These single, piece meal, case by case resolutions leads one to wonder if administration's actual policy on LGBT binational couples is to apply grease to the squeaky wheels?

LGBT advocacy community can do better things with their time and to spend their time rushing from rally to rally saving a single couple at a time. It is time to end the mad scrambling. It is time to end the uncertainty for all these couples.

Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary Janet Napolitano must decree their families can stay intact. At least until we hear definitively from the Justices of the Supreme Court that they
can't.

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A same-sex married couple in California received a two-year reprieve on an imminent deportation order at their last-chance hearing this morning. From Lavi Soloway's Stop The Deportations blog:

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – This morning in San Francisco, Doug Gentry and Alex Benshimol — a married binational same-sex couple — appeared before Immigration Judge Marilyn Teeter for a deportation hearing and were permitted to remain in the country despite the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the law that prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriages by the federal government. This is the latest in a series of recent court rulings that have demonstrated the inequality that DOMA forces same-sex couples to live under.

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Clarknt67

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Alex Can Stay With His Husband, Doug… At Least Two More Years.

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