Revisiting Gay I-130s and Galvanizing Support for DOMA Repeals

It is unquestionably appalling that a gay (or bi) American citizen cannot sponsor her or his spouse to live in the United States. It’s annoying that I feel the need to spend time writing about the case of a happily-married San Francisco gay couple who are battling to stay together because this country won’t recognize their marriage.

But contrary to media spin, Anthony John Makk is not in deportation and actually nowhere close to deportation. The San Francisco gay couple’s I-130 got denied, which is really not a big deal in the context of immigration battles. It simply means that Brad cannot sponsor Anthony to live in the United States. It does not mean that Anthony is getting deported. He’s actually in legal status and wants to keep legal status but the United States simply won’t let him do so.

I asked contacts at Immigration Equality, who have been handling the case, for clarification and received a carefully-worded email that didn’t quite go into case details. Then I realized belatedly that it wasn’t even a case — all the hue and cry was over the denial of a I-130 family petition filed by a gay American citizen for his long-term partner. The “misleading headline” — as dubbed by my friend Chris Geidner in a piece that explains immigration 101 — happened to galvanize support in opposition to a horrendous practice of keeping same-sex bi-national couples apart. People who did not even know the couple started posting petitions with hundreds of signatures in support of Brad and Anthony within a few minutes. And I was brought back to one of my controversial blog posts about swamping USCIS with I-130 petitions, which people dubbed as “crazy.” If one denial can be used to get so much positive press and attention, how would denials of dozens of such petitions impact a small class of people who need such positive attention? Of course, nothing about the post or statement constitutes legal advice. I’ll leave that to the experts. I’m better at building movements.

Brad and Anthony deserve to live together anywhere they call their home and anywhere they don’t call their home. I’m not even going to get into how conditions in Australia are better than life in this country because that line of thinking assumes that people should only leave their countries to escape bad conditions.

Today was incredibly validating. But I’m still bothered by how it is so easy to galvanize support for particular demographics of people as opposed to others who don’t fit our preferred “test cases.” The day laborer, the high-school dropout, the person caught carrying some crack cocaine all deserve a second chance and a second shot at the American dream, regardless of how that dream hides the violence of citizenship.

What do we miss when we elevate some voices over others?

Yes, I’m never really satisfied and I keep pushing boundaries but that’s what makes me special.

Nothing on this site creates an attorney-client relationship or replaces advice from a competent attorney. Success in one case does not guarantee success in all cases. 

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