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DOMA Repeal Battle Heats Up

Despite pledges from President Obama and Congressional Democrats to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that denies all federal benefits to same-sex couples, the battle rages on – and many bi-national LGBT couples still face the threat of deportation.

 

A few days prior to New York’s legalization of same-sex marriage, Senate and House Democrats urged their colleagues to support a bill called the Respect for Marriage Act which would overturn DOMA. Same-sex couples testified at a Congressional hearing last month.

 

“I believe it is important that we encourage and sanction committed relationships,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, who called the hearing.

 

But change may not come soon enough for some, including San Francisco couple Bradford Wells, a U.S. citizen, and Anthony John Makk, a citizen of Australia, who were married seven years ago in Massachusetts and have lived together for 19 years.

 

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services denied Makk's application to be considered for permanent residency as a spouse of an American citizen. He was ordered to depart the United States by Aug. 25. Makk is the sole caregiver for Wells, who has severe AIDS-related health problems.

 

A spokesman for Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said Pelosi has contacted immigration officials on behalf of the couple and "will be working to exhaust all appropriate immigration remedies that are open to pursue."

 

In the mean time, petitions to overturn DOMA have sprung up across the internet, from Facebook’s Repeal DOMA page to BarackObama.com.

 

Join the Facebook campaign here.

Sign the Obama petition here.

For more on Wells and Makk, click here.

 

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