Despite Obama’s Decision, Gay Couples Still Suffering Under DOMA
March 01, 2011
When President Obama declared last week that he would no longer defend the constitutionality of the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" in court, it gave hope to people like Karen Golinski, a lawyer who works for the U.S. appeals court in San Francisco. But the Administration also said that it would continue enforce DOMA, which means that the government is still discriminating against married gay couples.
Karen has sued the federal government to add her wife Mary to her health insurance plan at work. But late yesterday the Justice Department said it would still fight in that case, because the lawsuit does not actually challenge the constitutionality of DOMA. Instead, the suit is trying to enforce a decision by Karen's boss that her wife is in fact entitled to insurance coverage. It's a technicality, but one with serious consequences for people who have to live with the results.
Another couple hoping that the president's legal move might help them is Josh Vandiver and Henry Velandia, who are also married. Henry is facing deportation to his native Venezuela. Josh is a grad student at Princeton and a U.S. citizen, but because of DOMA he can't sponsor Henry for a green card. We've written about their story before, and started a petition to keep Henry in the country. Their Facebook group, "Save Our Marriage – Stop the Deportation of Henry Velandia," has more than 10,000 members.
Following the Obama Administration's action last week, Henry is now petitioning the Board of Immigration Appeals to see if he can get his green card, or at least delay any deportation action until there is some kind of resolution to the legal challenges against DOMA.
Velandia told the Daily Princetonian, "We’re a young couple and we have many dreams and hopes, but I think the main one is to be together."
Meanwhile in Washington, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the House will do something to defend DOMA in court now that President Obama won't. What exactly that action is will be revealed Friday, Cantor said. House Speaker John Boehner gave a similar position over the weekend.