FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 27, 2013
CONTACT: Ameesha Sampat
(202) 347-7007 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Bradford Wells and Anthony Makk celebrate receipt of their green card and the end of their years-long struggle to stay together
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – On August 27, 2013, after more than two decades of fighting to stay together despite an immigration system that did not recognize their relationship, Anthony Makk finally received the green card that will allow him to permanently remain in the United States with his American husband, Bradford Wells. The couple was notified of the good news today, just one week after their spousal interview at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) San Francisco Field Office. Wells and Makk were represented by Immigration Equality, a national organization that provides pro bono legal aid and advocacy to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender immigrants on issues ranging from green cards to asylum and detention.
“I don’t have words to describe how I feel today,” said Wells, a U.S. citizen. “He is my soul mate and my partner and has seen me through every tough time, and to finally stop worrying that we could be separated is all I ever wanted. We are overjoyed to finally make plans for the future, to travel, and to just live our lives together.”
Wells and Makk, an Australian citizen, were married in Massachusetts in 2004, the first year they could marry anywhere in the U.S. In 2011, after years of juggling visas to maintain legal status in the U.S., Makk was questioned while reentering the U.S. after returning from his father’s funeral in Australia. He was told he had been in the U.S. too long, and would need to leave within 90 days. Makk and Wells then contacted Immigration Equality, which helped them fight back by filing a spousal green card petition in June 2011. When their green card application was denied due to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi personally intervened, joined by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and secured Makk a grant of “deferred action,” which allowed him to remain in the U.S. for two more years.
While the couple considers themselves fortunate for the support they have received from their California representatives, the green card granted today means they no longer need to rely on temporary solutions to stay together – a change welcomed by both Leader Pelosi and Sen. Feinstein.
“This decision marks the end of a long, unjust, and difficult journey for Anthony and Bradford. Though Anthony has lived in the United States for over 20 years, the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act had forbidden the recognition of thousands of loving, committed same-sex couples in the United States,” said Leader Pelosi. “I salute Anthony and Bradford for their strength and determination, fighting together against an unjust law that told them their relationship was not worthy of recognition. And I commend the Obama Administration for acting swiftly in the wake of the DOMA decision – ensuring that the values of fairness and equality are once again upheld in our nation.”
“The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down DOMA means that legally married, same-sex couples – like Bradford and Anthony – no longer have to fear separation and can instead focus on living their lives,” said Senator Feinstein. “This was a long journey for this couple, but their perseverance and commitment to fairness will lead the way for other deserving couples who will no longer be denied green cards and can finally enjoy the full benefits of marriage they deserve.”
Since the Supreme Court overturned Section 3 of DOMA on June 26, 2013, Immigration Equality has answered over 2,800 inquiries from LGBT families now eligible to apply for green cards. According to census data from 2000, there are approximately 36,000 same-sex binational couples in the United States, over 45% of whom have children. Following the Supreme Court’s decision, the United States joined a growing number of countries around the world that allow same-sex couples equal access to immigration benefits.
“I could not be happier for Bradford and Anthony, who have been incredibly open and brave about sharing their struggle to stay together. They told the Bay Area and the rest of the country about their private fears, in order to change how this nation understands LGBT immigrant families,” said Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality. “This is the fruit of their labor, and it is well deserved. As we celebrate their good news today, Immigration Equality will continue to watchdog the government’s implementation on behalf of binational families, as well as work to advocate for the dignity and equality of all LGBT immigrants.”