Department of Homeland Security
Newark Immigration Court
Peter Rodino Federal Building
970 Broad Street
WHEN: FRIDAY MAY 6 at 11 a.m.
On Friday, LGBT organizations from across the country will rally behind a gay bi-national couple facing impending deportation hearings. In the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, GetEQUAL is working with a host of other LGBT organizations -- including Stop the Deportations, All Out, Courage Campaign, Garden State Equality, Immigration Equality Action Fund, Marriage Equality USA, Out4Immigration, Princeton Equality Project, and Queer Rising -- to make clear that these deportations of must stop now.
The rally outside the Newark Federal Courthouse is taking place as a gay bi-national couple -- Josh Vandiver of Colorado and Henry Velandia of Venezuela -- are facing deportation hearings on Friday in Newark. Despite having been legally married in Connecticut in August 2010, Vandiver (a Ph.D. student at Princeton University) and Velandia (a salsa dancer, instructor, and founder of a Princeton-based dance studio) are facing a nightmare scenario -- potentially being ripped apart from one another at the hands of the U.S. government.
Because of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which discriminates against same sex couples, the federal government doesn't recognize their marriage. As a result, Josh cannot sponsor Henry for a green card -- unlike any other straight married couple in the same situation. This legally married, loving couple are now at risk of being torn apart as Henry's potential deportation date looms on May 6.
Josh and Henry have become tireless advocates for LGBT bi-national couples in the United States, while fighting to stay together and save their own marriage. Last fall they launched the "Stop The Deportations" campaign to raise awareness of the cruel impact that DOMA has on married same-sex bi-national couples and to challenge DOMA in immigration court proceedings.
"I never intended or wanted to be an activist, but I have to do what is necessary to save our marriage and to keep the man I love in this country," says Josh, reflecting on their seven month campaign. "On May 6 Henry could be ripped away from me. But that doesn't have to happen. The Obama administration can immediately stop the deportations of spouses of gay and lesbian Americans. This would ensure that Henry and I aren't torn apart."
For more information contact stopthedeportations [at] gmail.com
GetEqual's complete press release here.