Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Together for 8 Years and Married, Donald and Arthur Face DOMA Deportation Proceedings in Miami Tomorrow

Stop the Deportations co-founder, Lavi Soloway, will appear in a Miami courtroom on Thursday September 8 to fight for the right of Donald and Arthur to remain together in this country. Arthur has lived in this country for over 16 years, and if it were not for DOMA he would already have a green card. We will make the court aware that the U.S. Department of Justice explicitly argued for the first time on September 2 in a Federal District Court filing that DOMA is unconstitutional in this context. For more information on DOJ's historic September 2 filing see here

(Originally posted on May 10, 2011)
From Donald:

Donald and Arthur will appear in Immigration Court in Miami on September 8
for a deportation hearing. Please help us save their marriage!
Arthur and I met just after he had lost someone very important in his life. I was a shopkeeper, and later the assistant manager for a video and clothing store where Arthur shopped for music primarily. At that same time I was working part time as the secretary of The Episcopal Church of the Intercession. I have always felt that my faith has strengthened me; it has always given me great victory over my physical health challenges and allowed me to keep my mind positive.

I held and comforted Arthur many nights in order that he might find some inner peace following the abrupt loss of a great love in his life. He was nearly inconsolable in those times. We listened to so very many great songs and mixes in those days. Arthur would help me order and choose which loud dance music and which new mixes and DJs were going to be hot that year. Together, we did everything. We realized we loved the same things. It was around about the year 2002 and I was in love with Arthur. By the next year we were boyfriends.

By this time Arthur had told me he was here on a work visa and had been on various visas at various prestigious companies. I shared with him my inner need to travel some day and also told him my ultimate vacation destination was Angel Falls in Venezuela. He lit up and told me all about it. He told me he’d seen it up close. I was so envious and this seemed so much like a match made in heaven.
We got to talking about faith and the church and my strong religious beliefs. I told Arthur I preferred that if I were to get physically or romantically involved with someone that they would share with me my strong Anglican affiliation. Arthur quickly smiled and beamed and shouted proudly he is an Anglican. I had managed to find the best person on the planet! I had found a passionate and glorious gift from God! He’s all I ever wanted!

Getting Married on March 10, 2011 in Connecticut
When we were able to afford it, right away, Arthur and I rented a car and drove that car all the way to New Haven, Connecticut, where Arthur used to live. We loved driving up there together with all the music we so enjoyed picking out together all these years. Who could have predicted as we were picking out music for the store I was working for, we were actually creating, and laying the foundations upon which Arthur and I would be building a positive, new kind of freedom in our lives! We made great, passionate and joyous memories all the way up to Connecticut! Arthur and I got married just before my birthday, which was on March 10th. My sister Christine and her husband Jeffrey drove from Ohio to witness and take part in our marriage. This marriage gives each of them a new family member. Arthur will do his best to be a great brother-in-law and He’s going to be an even better Uncle to Jed, Sierrah, and my perfect little nephew Noah. My sister’s already explained “gay” to her children and Noah and Jed think I’m a very cool uncle (of course!) After the justice of the peace, Barbara Canali, officially declared us married and my mind soared. The details and amount of time that passed between that special, perfect moment and the moments on the road driving to our honeymoon at the Doubletree are quite a blur. The destination hotel, the Doubletree, in Orlando was the perfect choice.

Arthur and I had the pleasant surprise of being upgraded to a suite at the Doubletree when I told the desk person we had just gotten married in Connecticut. The staff was very happy to congratulate us and I felt so very welcome. Being accepted as a married couple is enough to elicit tears from me. Arthur and I proudly enjoyed our stay at the hotel and we spent two days in Walt Disney World where we were accepted as a couple without judgment.

On President's Day, I wrote an e-mail to the President. I told him that in March I would be marrying my boyfriend of eight years in Connecticut. I wrote that it would be a slap in the face for the federal government to then turn around and defend the Defense of Marriage act right after I got married. Two days later, the New York Times reported that President Obama would not defend DOMA in federal court cases because he believed it was unconstitutional. For a moment I felt my President, and my Attorney General had taken up a battle worth having. The government seemed to be making a righteous decision.

A few days after we got home from our wedding trip we got a letter in the mail. The letter from the Department of Homeland Security said Arthur had overstayed his visa and he was being placed in removal proceedings. Arthur’s deportation hearing is now scheduled for September 8. Arthur can stay here when the courts recognize he has a family member in the United States of America. According to my father, my sister, my husband, the State of Connecticut, and me I am his family. The Defense of Marriage Act is not doing anything; but attempting to tear my marriage apart.

If I could have one wish granted by my elected representatives it would be that our Congresswoman, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who is now the incoming Chair of the Democratic National Committee, and our Senators, Marco Rubio and Senator Bill Nelson, would join their colleagues in calling on the Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder to put all cases involving legally married same-sex couples on an indefinite "pause," or put a moratorium on deportations of spouses of gay and lesbian Americans, at least until the courts make a final decision on the Defense of Marriage Act’s constitutionality or it's repealed by Congress. If this doesn’t happen and legally married same sex spouses like Arthur are deported, they will be ineligible for re-entry for ten years. That’s unreasonable! It’s unconscionable!

We can stop the deportations of our spouses if we stand together. Even before DOMA is repealed we have the tremendous power of our personal stories to keep it from destroying our lives.

There is only one courtroom that matters in 2011, and that is the court of public opinion. We must mobilize and change the hearts of minds of the American people and our elected representatives and ultimately this administration. Join us in this battle. Help us save our marriage and defeat DOMA.

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