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Josh Vandiver and Henry Velandia on Fox News WNYW, October 25, 2010

Josh Vandiver & Henry Velandia Interviewed at Princeton About Their Fight Against DOMA

Following up on the story published by the Daily Princetonian this weekend, Josh Vandiver and Henry Velandia sat down for an on-camera interview about their relationship, their marriage, their fight against DOMA and their campaign to stop Henry’s deportation. Join and “share” their Facebook page here.

Gay California Couple Joins Challenge to Defense of Marriage Act, Fight Deportation

Submitted by Douglas Gentry

I am a 53-year old American citizen born in Indianapolis. I met Carlos Alejandro Benshimol (he goes by the name Alex) in June of 2005. Alex is a 46-year old Venezuelan man who has lived in the United States for over 10 years. At the time I met Alex I was working in Palm Springs Monday through Friday and traveling home to Los Angeles on weekends. Our relationship grew more intense over the next year. We knew that we loved each other and that we wanted to stay together as a committed couple. In July 2006 we purchased a house together close to where we had been living in Cathedral City. In December of 2006 Alex and I opened a shop together in Palm Springs, Alex’s Pet Grooming.
In the spring of 2007 we moved my father from Los Angeles to a retirement complex very close to our home. My father was older and disabled. He didn’t need full time help but, having him close, we were able to help him with laundry, grocery shopping and medical appointments.

Alex and my father loved each other very much and had a great relationship. I was very grateful for how much Alex helped care for my dad. I was still traveling for work and never needed to worry about him when I was out of town.
My father died in the spring of 2008. Alex was there for me and helped me through a very difficult time. Alex and my family embraced each other from the start. He grew to know my ex-wife, my two children and become an instant member of a large extended family: including my sister, her husband and 3 children, mother and brothers in law and spouses. We divide spending holidays and occasions together between our home in Cathedral City and their homes in Los Angeles. Alex has a great relationship with my kids and has been incredibly supportive through several extremely difficult times.

Alex Benshimol and Douglas Gentry Getting Married

We all value his opinions and advice and I’m grateful for the support he provides. Both my son and daughter consider him to be their other dad.
Alex and I knew for a long time that we wanted to get married. We loved each other and had been happy in our relationship for years. Unfortunately we missed the window of opportunity to marry in our own state, so we decided to marry in Connecticut. We were married on July 21, 2010 at the beautiful Lockwood Mathews Mansion in Norwalk by State Senator Bob Duff. However, despite our happiness and our celebration we have to deal with the very stark and difficult reality that Alex now faces deportation proceedings. We are fighting to keep him in this country and fighting the discrimination against us as a gay couple because of the Defense of Marriage Act. Right after we married, I filed a petition for a green card for Alex on the basis of our marriage. I did this because I love him dearly and I want to spend the rest of my life together with him. Venezuela is not an option for him or for us as a couple because it is so dangerous for gay people.
Alex and I have been together for over five and a half years. I’m grateful for having found him every day of my life. And now I’m thankful to be able to call him my husband. Now I want my government to give me the complete rights that every US citizen has, to live my life together with my spouse in peace and without fear of separation.

“Save Our Marriage – Stop the Deportation of Henry Velandia” Reaches More Than 2,000 Supporters in Just Three Days on Facebook

Josh and Henry launched a Facebook cause page this week, a great example of how a couple can stand up and speak truth to injustice. With Henry currently in deportations proceedings before the Immigration Court the couple is, in their own words, “fighting for love, for our lives, and for equal rights.” They are speaking to the press, to gay and immigrant advocacy organizations, and they are reaching out to their friends and family. They are encouraging supporters to write to their elected officials to ask that the Department of Homeland Security stop the deportation and allow them to live their lives in peace like all other married couples. Help them reach their goal of 10,000 members in the next week by joining to their Facebook page here.

Britta and Carla Fight Deportation, As Their Case Progresses in New York Immigration Court

Britta and Carla were married in 2009, but they are still fighting deportation. One solution for lesbian and gay binational couples would be passage of immigration reform that included a provision for foreign partners. However, couples like Britta and Carla who are legally married should have their marriage recognized by Citizenship and Immigration Services.  That does not require reform of existing immigration law, because we already have a provision by which American citizens can sponsor their foreign spouses. When DOMA is repealed or struck down as unconstitutional the last obstacle for married lesbian and gay binational couples will have been removed.  For this reason, the fight against DOMA and the campaign to STOP THE DEPORTATIONS is so important.

Daily Princetonian: Josh Vandiver & Henry Velandia Fight to Stay Together, Challenge DOMA and Stop Deportations

“When Joshua Vandiver GS met Henri Velandia, his future husband, in 2006, he never imagined that he would be fighting to save him from deportation less than four years later.” Read more here.

Binational Couple Confronts Congressman Holt at Town Hall Meeting in Princeton, New Jersey

Josh Vandiver questions Congressman Rush Holt today at a Town Hall meeting on the Princeton University campus. Vandiver asked Rep. Holt to write to Secretary Napolitano and Attorney General Holder and ask them to stop the deportations of gay and lesbian spouses of U.S. citizens. Congressman Holt, a co-sponsor of the bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, promised to meet with Josh and his husband, Henry Velandia. Earlier in the day Henry and Josh held a roundtable lunch at Whitman College with Princeton students in support of their struggle to stay together.

Gay Binational Couple in Princeton, New Jersey Creates “SAVE OUR MARRIAGE” Facebook Page

Please visit Henry Velandia and Josh Vandiver’s Facebook page here and join by clicking on “Like.” But don’t stop there. Scroll down to the bottom left corner of the Facebook page and using the “share” button, send the link to your friends to increase awareness of their case. In less than 24 hours over 700 people have already joined Henry and Josh’s Facebook page where you can see photos and video of the couple and learn what actions you can take to support their campaign.

Tomorrow, at Princeton University, the couple will hold a roundtable discussion open to the campus community to bring their struggle to stay together to a broader audience.

Help us stop the deportation of Henry Velandia, a extraordinarily talented salsa dancer, who is married to his U.S. citizen husband.

UPDATE: Thursday October 21, 2010: In less than 48 hours since its launch more than 1,000 people have joined the Facebook page, “SAVE OUR MARRIAGE.”  Josh and Henry had a busy day today speaking out on the Princeton University campus to end discrimination against gay binational couples. More news to follow soon.

Married Gay Couples Fight Deportations, Call For Repeal of Defense of Marriage Act

On Sunday September 26 a group of binational couples participated in Marriage Equality New York’s Wedding March to bring attention to their fight to stop the deportation of spouses of gay and lesbian Americans. Can Wedding March Bridge the Vote Gap? Gay City News, September 29, 2010.

Josh Vandiver and his mother-in-law, Luz Ferreira, pictured above, were interviewed at the rally by the Spanish language newspaper, El Diario La Prensa. (Exigen Igualdad Matrimonial Para Gays, Cristina Loboguerrero, September 27, 2010). They are fighting to stop the deportation of Josh’s husband, Henry Velandia, who came to the United States in 2002 from Venezuela. Josh and Henry married this summer in Connecticut (see below) and live in Princeton, New Jersey where Josh is a Ph.D. student. Henry, a professional salsa dancer, performed last month on Univision’s television dance show, Mira Quien Baila. This weekend he will audition in front of Paula Abdul for her new show, using that opportunity to speak out for “our lives together, our love and equal rights.” On November 12, Josh and Henry will celebrate four years together as a couple. A few days later they will appear in Immigration Court in Newark for Henry’s deportation hearing. Find out how you can help stop Henry’s deportation by contacting Josh and Henry here.
Josh Vandiver and Henry Velandia on their wedding day
August 29, 2010
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This is a pro-bono project of the law firm of Masliah & Soloway, PC. Posts on this website are offered for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. The law firm of Masliah & Soloway, PC has offices in New York and Los Angeles. Our practice is limited to U.S. Immigration & Nationality Law.