After Marrying, Brian & Anton File Spousal Green Card Petition and Continue Their Fight Against Deportation

Getting Married in DC
by Brian Andersen

In February, we were saved from a Valentine’s Day deportation by the tremendous, non-stop, round the clock efforts of Lavi Soloway and the Stop the Deportations campaign.

At the time Anton and I were not married, but we had been dating for seven months and we felt that we had a very strong connection. We were in love and we knew that we wanted to spend our lives together.

Some people may have wondered why we fought so hard for something that was relatively new? For us there was never a question that we had to fight for our love.

We were interviewed at the time by many journalists, and CNN and many other news outlets reported our fight to stop Anton’s deportation. While we won a temporary victory but we still live in constant fear that Anton could be deported. In the meantime, our relationship has progressed. We moved in together and started to make plans to marry on June 12 in Washington, DC and then to celebrate with family in friends in August.

The decision to marry was not one that we took lightly. Despite knowing each other for just ten months, we knew that this was a commitment we wanted to make to each other. In the past ten months we have been inseparable, spending at least five days a week together and often more.

From the time we met, we knew there was something special between us.  Naturally conversation led to what we wanted and expected out of our futures, both individually and together. Of course the topic of marriage came up, and was always something we repeatedly returned to as something we wanted for ourselves down the road. Neither of us wanted to take that leap without careful consideration, and with time we just knew it was the right move for us. We were living together, spending all of our time together, sharing expenses, laughs, meals, and nights at home watching movies.

Philadelphia Weekly reports on Brian and Anton’s wedding plans

We chose to have a small ceremony in Washington, DC for a few reasons. First, unlike Pennsylvania where we lived, Washington was one of the six jurisdictions in the United States where we could have a legally recognized marriage.    As a binational gay couple, our relationship faces blatant discrimination by federal law, specifically the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which precludes the federal government from recognizing our marriage. We specifically chose Lafayette Park across from the White House for our ceremony because we wanted to make a statement to the Obama administration with the most personal moments—our marriage—while standing in a pleasant and aesthetically appealing environment. Our feeling is that the Obama administration is our ally, and so we celebrate that a champion of LGBT rights occupies the White House. At the same time, while Obama administration has come out and publicly stated it believes DOMA is unconstitutional, we need him to do more to ensure that we are not torn apart.  Our message: “President Obama, Defend Our Marriage.”  

To our surprise, two other binational couples –complete strangers to us who heard about our plans to marry– showed up unexpectedly to show their support for our marriage and celebrate the day with us. It warmed our hearts to know we weren’t alone, and to meet others who were facing these challenges.

Last night I filed a marriage-based green card petition to sponsor Anton to remain in the United States. I filed this petition to keep my husband and life partner here and to keep my family together. That should be the automatic result, but because of DOMA we embark on the next chapter in a fight that none of us should have to fight.  Anton and I will continue to fight for ourselves and for the thousands of binational couples out there.

We hope that those who come after us can follow the path of any other American citizen who can sponsor his or her spouse for a green card. We can only hope that day comes sooner rather than later.

For more background on this case see Breaking News From Philadelphia Weekly.

Across from the White House, Brian & Anton Get Married

The happily married couple in Lafayette Park Sunday afternoon

Obama Will Not ” Win The Future” In Time For Spouses of Lesbian & Gay Americans Facing DOMA Deportations

This comprehensive report on the crisis of DOMA deportations demands that the Obama administration act immediately (it was cross posted at Pam’s House Blend).  It is a must-read for anyone following the progress of our Stop The Deportations campaign.

We started this work in 1993, just three years after U.S. immigration law was amended to remove the bar on admissibility of gay and lesbian non-citizens.  In the intervening 18 years we have helped to build a diverse movement of binational couples, organizations and advocates.  We have raised the profile of this issue for the general public,  elected officials and major LGBT and immigration reform organizations.

Last July, we launched a new strategy called The DOMA Project. Beginning with the Stop The Deportations campaign our effort was designed to highlight what we believe is the core issue for binational couples: marriage (in)equality. We did this by challenging DOMA in Immigration Court. The message could not be simpler: married same-sex binational couples should be protected by the family unification provisions of our existing immigration laws just like all other married binational couples. The only obstacle that remains is DOMA.  For that reason we have argued that until DOMA’s fate is determined by Congress or the courts this administration must stop deportations that separate lesbian and gay couples, destroying marriages and families. Fighting to halt deportations is a vital part of winning full equality for all binational couples.

Participant couples include those who are separated, those who are exiled, those facing imminent deportation and those who are together in this country but who are living in fear of an uncertain future.

As the architects of this new DOMA-focused campaign we have catapulted the issue of binational couples into the media and brought the crisis of “DOMA deportations” to the White House itself.  You can help us continue this momentum.

To achieve full equality we need your participation and support. Our own personal stories remain our most valuable tool. We have developed a unique blend of legal strategy and advocacy for every couple involved in the Stop The Deportations campaign—strategies that protect them and advance the broader goal of defeating DOMA. Contact us here to find out how you can get involved. It can be as simple as sharing your story and does not require revealing any identifying information. We are also accepting donations to help us expand this effort, in partnership with the Love, Honor, Cherish Foundation.

As part of this pro bono project we have provided free legal advice to binational couples who are separated, exiled or facing deportation. We have collaborated with other attorneys, activists and organizations providing strategic support as binational couples face deportations hearings in Immigration Courts around the country.

And most importantly, we are winning.

We have stopped four deportations in four months. In each case, the government has agreed to allow the couple to remain together for now. In doing so, the government demonstrates that it can respect their relationship, even while DOMA still prevents recognition of their marriage.

(Read about these victories: Anton & Brian, Rodrigo & Edwin, Monica & Cristina, and Henry & Josh.)

The weeks and months ahead will be extremely busy here at Stop The Deportations.  We are confident that we will get our message through and that we will win interim protection for all couples until the day that DOMA is finally repealed or struck down by the Supreme Court. This fight is a part of a larger battle to win full equality.

Breaking News from Philadelphia Weekly: Brian & Anton to Marry This Weekend, DOMA Deportation Still Looms

Anton Tanumihardja fought a Valentine’s Day deportation and won a temporary reprieve,
but their legal battle against DOMA has just begun.  (Photo by Jeff Fusco)

Readers of this site will remember the victory achieved by The DOMA Project’s Stop The Deportations campaign in the case of Anton Tanumihadja earlier this year.  (See “Deportation Delayed For Philly Couple,” Philadelphia Gay News and media coverage of Anton and Brian’s fight against deportation on CNN and NPRMetroWeeky, and Queerty).

Anton was scheduled for deportation on Valentine’s Day when he reached out to us at the beginning of February for help. His partner, Brian Andersen, and the staff at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) worked hard diligently with Stop The Deportations to bring their plight to national attention.  After successfully winning a reprieve from deportation, Brian and Anton have continued to plan their future together. In an extensive interview with  the Philadelphia Weekly, they disclosed for the first time that they will marry this weekend in Washington, D.C. We congratulate Brian and Anton on their marriage and assure them that we will continue to fight to keep them together in this country.

Here’s the full article from today’s Philadelphia Weekly.

White House Refuses to Consider Halt to Deportations, Comprehensive Immigration Reform Must Come First

Our full response to the White House statement appears below.
Watch clip of White House press briefing addressing DOMA deportations here.

See complete Metro Weekly article by Chris Geidner here.

Response by Stop The Deportations to today’s statement by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney:

TOWLEROAD: White House Pushes Immigration Reform When Asked About Halting DOMA Deportations

See original post here.

Andrew Sullivan: DOMA Tearing a Marriage Apart

AmericaBlog: DOMA Rips Apart Married Binational Couples

QUEERTY: Cristina & Monica Face DOMA Deportation Hearing in December, They Need Repeal Now!

Cristina & Monica Featured in Video Highlighting DOMA’s Harm on Married Binational Couple Fighting Deportation

Today Freedom to Marry released a video produced in partnership with In The Life Media telling the moving story of Cristina Alcota and Monica Ojeda, who, though legally married, face deportation or separation because the so-called Defense of Marriage Act denies married same-sex couples immigration protections. (Scroll down to view the video in Spanish, or to view in Spanish with English subtitles, click here.)

“Cristina and Monica fell in love, made a lifetime commitment to one another, and got married. Now they spend every day worrying about whether they will be ripped apart or forced into exile in order to stay together because the so-called Defense of Marriage Act keeps the U.S. government from honoring their marriage,” said Evan Wolfson, Founder and President of Freedom to Marry. “If not for DOMA, Cristina would be able to petition for Monica as her spouse without any difficulty. It is time to overturn DOMA and ensure that all Americans are treated fairly and equally under the law.”

Married lesbian and gay binational couples have moved to the forefront of the fight against DOMA since the launch of The DOMA Project’s Stop The Deportations Campaign last summer.

“We recognized that support for Marriage Equality in the United States had shifted dramatically in our favor, said Lavi Soloway, attorney for Cristina and Monica and co-founder of the Stop The Deportations campaign.  “Increasingly, binational couples were marrying in the five states and the District of Colombia where marriage equality had been achieved. We decided to take on DOMA with a group of married binational couples leading the charge, something that had not been done before. We focused specifically on married couples facing deportation to illustrate DOMA’s cruelest impact: tearing apart our families and destroying marriages.  As a result of our work, the plight of binational couples is now more accurately understood as harm caused by DOMA. It is a simple matter of equality. Without DOMA, gay and lesbian Americans would be able to petition for their spouses under the existing provisions of U.S. immigration law. It is, therefore, imperative that DOMA be repealed and that a moratorium on deportations of spouses of lesbian and gay American be implemented by the administration immediately so that all families are protected.”

Cristina and Monica were among the founding couples of the Stop The Deportations campaign. For the past eight months they have shared their story and bravely fought against DOMA in immigration court and the media, winning a reprieve from deportation earlier this year on the basis of their marriage. Christina and Monica have been in the forefront of the campaign urging the Obama Administration to halt deportations of law-abiding spouses of lesbian and gay American citizens pending the outcome of legal challenges to DOMA.

Cristina and Monica met several years ago when Cristina was in school for social work. They married in a ceremony in Connecticut. An American citizen, Cristina petitioned for her wife Monica, an Argentinean national, to obtain a “green card.”  Because they are a same-sex couple, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act bars the federal government from honoring their marriage for the purposes of immigration, and Cristina’s petition for Monica cannot be approved. Still they continue their fight to build a future together in this country. In March, an immigration judge delayed their case in light of court challenges finding DOMA unconstitutional, and the Department of Justice’s determination that DOMA is indefensible under the Constitution.  They return to immigration court on December 6 to once again fight for the right to be together.

Of marriage, Cristina Alcota says in the video “You’re doing this to be with the person you love for the rest of your life… marriage is a bond that cannot be broken that easily.” She goes on to say “The government doesn’t recognize that our marriage is valid for purposes of immigration because of DOMA and we are facing being either torn apart or being removed from this country.”
Cristina is a social worker and Monica is an antique furniture restorer. The two women currently live in Queens, New York.

Cristina and Monica have appeared numerous times in the media as activists for the DOMA Project’s Stop The Deportations campaign, including:  CNN, New York Daily News (twice), Gay City News (twice) and NY1 Pura Politica.

Page 14 of 33« First...1213141516...2030...Last »
© The DOMA Project

Attorney advertising

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.