A reprieve for a San Francisco man caring for his ill same-sex partner is giving hope to other gay, binational couples. The couple is legally married, but since the federal government doesn't recognize same-sex unions, the Australian man was denied a spousal visa.
"I love America and I love Americans," said Bradford Wells, after learning this week that his partner, Anthony John Makk, could stay in the country for at least two more years.
A policy introduced last year provides leniency toward immigrants facing deportation who have family ties, which included same-sex couples in the definition of family. Makk is the primary caregiver for his husband, who has AIDS and is a U.S. citizen.
Wells said that learning his partner was granted a stay in the deportation case is like winning the lottery. "I was thrilled, I was absolutely thrilled," he said in a telephone interview. "It just came out of nowhere and hit me like a really wonderful surprise."
This reprieve shows the administration is for real, said Rachel Tiven with the Washington D.C.-based Immigration Equality, the couple's legal counsel.
"And I think it is reason for couples all over the country -- and the many couples who are in exile waiting to come home -- to really feel quite optimistic that the end is in sight," she said.
Tiven added her group helps more than 3,000 LGBT immigrant families a year.
The Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles estimates there are nearly 30,000 gay couples in which one is a citizen and one is not, according to data provided by the 2010 Census.
Steve Ralls, director of communication with Immigration Equality said, "it is safe to say that they are in a similar situation as Bradford and Anthony, with no permanent option to remain together."
He added that Wells' health issues, as well as a number of things, met the Obama Administration's criteria (PDF) for granting discretion in deportation cases.