Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sen. John Kerry Backs New Lawsuit Against DOMA Involving Bi-National Couple

“We are profoundly sad,” Tim Coco told the AP. “This is more than any married [couple] should have to face.”

Tim Coco is a married man from Massachusetts who has accumulated $250,000 in legal fees since January. And why? Because the U.S. government will not recognize his legal marriage to his Brazilian husband Genesio "Junior" Oliveira, 30. And after going through the proper channels and still not getting his immigration petition granted (after facing a Bush-appointed judge who was declared too inexperienced by the American Bar Association), Oliveira was deported back to Brazil.

Yet what makes this story even worse is that Oliveira had sought asylum before and after his 2005 marriage on the grounds of having been raped as a teenager in his native country. Even after Sen. John Kerry stepped in and asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to grant asylum, Holder decided that "forced sex" was not rape and let a deadline pass to bring Oliveira back to the states.

"We needed the Attorney General to make a decision on whether Junior could come home," said Coco, 48. "He didn't take this request seriously."

What has resulted from these numerous injustices is the first Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) challenge of its kind - it involves a bi-national couple.

Sen. Kerry's spokeswoman Brigid O'Rourke told On Top Magazine, "Senator Kerry will support Tim and Junior's lawsuit, just as he supported the [Massachusetts'] lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of DOMA, and he'll continue to work towards a solution that sees this loving couple reunited for good."

Sen. Kerry voted against DOMA in 1996 because “he knew it would result in tragedies like this one.”

“It's tragedies like this that really underscore why DOMA was wrong in 1996 and is wrong today,” she said.

O'Rourke told the AP, "The fact is that if Tim and Junior were a heterosexual married couple, they would never have suffered through more than two years of separation."

Coco and Oliveira's lawsuit will join three other DOMA cases, one in California (that is being refiled) and two others in Massachusetts, the first filed by GLAD and the second by the state's attorney general.

"This is our last shot, if nothing else works," said Coco. "But we think we can pull this off with the right legal counsel."

The issues brought up by the lawsuit are being wrestled with in Congress. Rep. Jarrold Nadler has introduced the Respect for Marriage Act which would overturn DOMA, and the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) which would grant gay and lesbian Americans the right to sponsor an immigrant partner for citizenship.

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