John Kerry is aiming to help prevent one half of a married lesbian couple in Massachusetts from deported back to Pakistan.

The Democratic senior senator is requesting the Department of Homeland Security take administrative action to make sure the I-130 marriage-based green-card petition for the couple is held in abeyance until the Defense of Marriage Act is overturned either by Congress or the courts.

“I know that you and I both believe that every family is worthy and recognition and respect, and that no family should be torn apart based on a discriminatory law,” Kerry wrote in his letter to Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano. “Abeyance will allow this remarkable young couple to move forward with their dream of building a life together at home in Massachusetts.”

The half of the couple in question, Gloria, 24 (the couple have only released their fist names to the press) is a Pakistani national. She and her wife Jackie, also 24, live together in Beverly, Massachusetts. Having met in college in 2008 and been brought together by a shared Christian faith, they married in Massachusetts in October 2011.

However, Gloria’s student visa expired after she could no longer afford tuition and had to leave education, making her persona non grata legally and putting her in a situation where she may be deported.

In March, Jackie filed a marriage-based green card petition to sponsor Gloria for residency in the US. The US Citizenship & Immigration Services have not yet reached a decison on the petition, but it will probably be denied unless held in in abeyance, as DOMA prohibits federal recognition of marriage between gay couples.

The Obama administration has ruled DOMA unconstitutional and stopped defending the anti-gay law in court, which left many same-sex couples “wondering how that will apply to their pending cases” said Kerry.

He added: “Among those harmed by the discrimination enshrined in law by DOMA are many of my constituents in Massachusetts who face separation from husbands, wives, grandparents, grandchildren, extended family, colleagues and community.”

If returned to Pakistan, Gloria could be sent to prison, as homosexuality is a crime there – plus Christians have been known to face persecution in the country.

Kerry wrote: “She is certain that if she is forced to return to Pakistan, her life will be in danger, not only because of her sexual orientation and her marriage to a United States citizen, but for religious reasons as well.”