In the latest victory for binational gay couples in the immigration system, officials in Hartford, Conn. moved earlier this week to drop deportation proceedings against Michael Thomas, a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago who married his American spouse, John Brandoli, in Massachusetts last year, according to Immigration Equality.
Immigration Equality spokesman Steve Ralls said Friday that his organization had brought the case to the attention of Department of Homeland Security executive secretary Philip McNamara, who was recently appointed to the role of LGBT liaison in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) working group tasked with reviewing the nation’s 300,000 pending deportation cases. (Thomas and Brandoli have a private immigration attorney, while Immigration Equality has consulted on the case in addition to providing media and legislative outreach.)
The closure of Thomas’s case is the second known positive result for a gay binational couple in a removal situation since the ICE deportation working group began its review on November 17, according to Immigration Equality.
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The Netherlands is to introduce a temporary residency permit for gay would-be immigrants who want to move to be with a Dutch partner but cannot do so because they are not married.
At the moment, foreign partners can only move to the Netherlands under family reunion rules if they are married or have a legally-binding relationship.
But gay couples cannot either marry or register their relationship in many countries, so the government is introducing the short-term marriage permit to help them get married and live together in the Netherlands. Once the couple has tied the knot, the permit can be swapped for an ordinary residency permit.
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Dutch to relax rules for gay binational couples, possibly Ugandan gay refugees
Josh Vandiver, a 30-year-old graduate student at Princeton University, and his husband, Henry Velandia, 28, a Venezuelan native, have waged a public battle to stay together. Although the couple were legally married in Connecticut last year, the federal Defense of Marriage Act prevents Vandiver, an American citizen, from sponsoring Velandia, a Princeton salsa instructor, for a green card. The 1996 law, known as DOMA, prohibits federal entities — including immigration courts — from recognizing a same-sex marriage for any legal purpose. For many gay and lesbian binational couples, the answer has been to emigrate to one of the few countries that recognize a gay spouse. Three years ago, Tom Smeraldo, 44, and Emilio Ojeda, 47, left their dream home in Washington Township in Warren County and moved to Toronto — a city they knew no one — because six years of fighting Ojeda’s deportation had failed. But a shift in the federal government’s policy on DOMA has offered hope to couples around the country. In February, Attorney General Eric Holder announced his department would no longer defend DOMA because it is unconstitutional. Velandia’s case, and that of another gay couple in New Jersey, have proved to be landmark cases on this issue.
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