The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage and so strips same-sex married couples of the rights that opposite-sex married couples enjoy. For this reason, Henry Velandia, a Venezuelan man, was in danger of being deported, which would have separated him from Josh Vandiver, who he legally married in Connecticut. Luckily, on June 29th, federal officials canceled the deportation of Henry Velandia.
The victory for the couple came after a Newark immigration judge suspended Velandia’s deportation last month to give the government more time to consider the issue. Velandia sent a request that his deportation proceedings be canceled to the Department of Homeland Security which the Department agreed to.
This news comes in a flurry of news surrounding DOMA and immigration policies. In February the Obama administration announced that it would no longer defend DOMA in courts but that it would still enforce it. Advocates then asked the Obama administration to suspend deportations of married same-sex couples until the constitutionality of DOMA is settled. The decision on Velandia’s deportation proceedings “came as federal immigration officials were thoroughly reviewing their deportation policies.”
While it is certainly good news that Henry and Jose will not be separated as a result of DOMA, the fight towards marriage equality is still far from over. It is possible that this decision could lead to the cancellation of other deportations for those in a same-sex marriage but advocate.com notes that “it does not settle the question of federal recognition for same-sex marriages.” Until DOMA is repealed and same-sex marriage is legalized, couples like Josh Vandiver and Henry Velandia will not be free from the fear of their spouse’s deportation. To find out what you can do to help ensure marriage equality, visit Freedom to Marry’s “Take Action” page.