"Josh Vandiver never expected to become an activist. A sixth-year graduate student at Princeton University, he planned to spend this spring finishing his dissertation and enjoying his new life with his husband of a year and a half, Henry Velandia.
Instead, they’re in the middle of a fight to keep their marriage together. Velandia, who first came to the U.S. from Venezuela in 2002 on a visitor visa, is facing deportation. Although they married legally in Connecticut and have been together since 2006, Velandia is unable to qualify for a spouse visa because the couple is in a same-sex marriage.
The two are now among the most prominent voices calling for a moratorium on deportations of individuals in same-sex marriages while Congress and the federal courts determine the fate of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
DOMA prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, which means these couples do not receive typical marriage benefits, including the ability to sponsor a spouse for immigration.
“Our fight is to stay together,” Velandia said in an interview. “We hope that the government will realize the damage DOMA is causing to many couples in our position.”
At first, Velandia and Vindiver weren’t optimistic. But after President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder recently announced that the administration believes DOMA is unconstitutional, Vandiver and Velandia have new hope for success.
The president’s statement doesn’t change the law. But, as their attorney Lavi Soloway explains, it does change how we understand the position they’re in.
“Henry is now prohibited from getting a green card on the basis of a law that the president thinks is unconstitutional, that has been found unconstitutional by a federal district court judge, and that Congress is now working to repeal,” Soloway said."