A California gay couple embroiled in a complex immigration battle won a two-year reprieve against the threat of deportation Wednesday -- with a little help from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting.
Bradford Wells and Anthony John Makk, a bi-national, married couple who have reside in San Francisco’s Castro district, have been living under the threat of separation as Wells is a U.S. citizen and Makk a citizen of Australia. As the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) bars all federal marital rights to same-sex couples, Makk was denied consideration for a green card based on his marriage to Wells, who suffers from advanced AIDS, the Chronicle notes.
"I’m relieved, really excited and relieved,” Wells said. “I am so grateful I don’t have to worry about Anthony being taken out of the country.” Added Makk, who is also Wells' primary caregiver: "We’re still dizzy from the news. We are elated."
Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat, personally intervened in their case, aided by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and state Sen. Mark Leno, an openly gay Democrat who represents parts of San Francisco, SF Gate notes. Pelosi broke the news to the couple herself on Wednesday.
The case garnered international attention and was reportedly SFGate's most widely shared story on Facebook this year. Outcry from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights advocates turned to fury in August, when the Obama administration announced it had denied immigration rights to the couple and had ordered the deportation of Makk to Australia, just one month after President Obama had announced he would fight to repeal DOMA.
At two Facebook groups were started in defense of the couple: "Justice for Bradford Wells and husband Anthony John Makk," and "Let Anthony John Makk Stay in the US."
The couple, who married in Massachusetts in 2004, met with Pelosi and other congressional leaders in Washington after Makk's final visa expired. Pelosi expressed her personal delight in a statement quoted by NBC Bay Area: "The positive resolution of Anthony’s immigration petition is a personal victory for Bradford and Anthony, and keeps this loving couple together."