Congressman asks Obama administration to halt deportation of same-sex spouses




Henry Velandia (left) and Josh Vandiver

A U.S. congressman from New Jersey has asked the Obama administration to halt deportation proceedings against the same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens, making the request on behalf of a gay couple who resides in his district.

Rep. Rush Holt (D-New Jersey) sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano last week, asking her to suspend deportation proceedings on bi-national same-sex couples until a decision is reached on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which has been declared unconstitutional in federal court.

Holt’s plea comes on behalf of his constituents, Josh Vandiver, a Princeton University political science graduate, who was married last year in Connecticut, where same-sex marriage is legal, to Henry Velandia, a citizen of Venezuela and professional salsa dancer.

“As a result of DOMA, Henry is ineligible for a spouse visa and will be deported unless the courts rule on the unconstitutionality of DOMA or a bill passes in Congress challenging DOMA.

“As a U.S. citizen, Josh should receive the full rights granted to all citizens and should not be singled out based on his sexual orientation, which is what is occurring by not allowing Josh to sponsor Henry for a visa,” Holt wrote. […] “In the interim, you must not apply this unconstitutional law to tear apart families.”

“In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security made the decision based on humanitarian grounds to put a moratorium on deportations of the widows of U.S. citizen husbands who
were killed during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq before they received their green cards.”

“In light of Attorney General Holder’s new guidance, I am asking you to suspend the deportation of all spouses of citizens in a same-sex marriage until a decision is reached on DOMA. This is the right thing to do for Henry, Josh and countless others who are being victimized by this discriminatory and unconstitutional law.”

The case underscores the ambiguous status of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman.

On July 8, 2010, in U.S. District Court in Boston, Judge Joseph L. Tauro ruled that Section 3 of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act violated the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

On Feb. 23 the Obama administration announced that the Justice Department would no longer defend the law in court.

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