A New York City immigration judge immediately stopped the deportation of a gay Colombian man who is legally married to an American citizen soon after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.
Sean Brooks and his Colombian husband Steven faced a deportation proceeding on Wednesday morning, knowing that their marriage did not exist in the eyes of the US Citizenship and Immigration services.
The New York City immigration judge, Barbara Nelson, immediately adjourned Mr Brooks’ deportation hearing after reading the Supreme Court ruling, specifically section 3 of DOMA which legally recognised only marriages between a man and a woman.
After being legally married at City Hall in New York, Sean Brooks first filed a green card petition in 2011 for his husband Steven, who had moved to the US with his family from Colombia in the 1990s.
But US Citizenship and Immigration Services denied the green card petition because Mr Brooks’ marriage to his Colombian partner did not federally exist.
This left Steven vulnerable to deportation. Steven, who had not been back to Colombia for twelve years, applied to have his deportation cancelled based on the hardship that his deportation would incur on his spouse.
But this request was also denied because federal law did not recognise same-sex couples.
In December of 2011, Sean wrote a blog post for The DOMA Project describing the pain and frustration the couple had to face even after becoming legally married.
He wrote: “It makes a mockery of the victory of marriage equality to know that the most powerful government in this country refuses to recognise our marriage because of the Defense of Marriage Act.
They would just as soon deport Steven even though we have been together as a couple for seven years and we are legally married.”
Following Wednesday’s ruling however, the marriage between Sean and Steven Brooks will now be legally recognised by Federal law.
Although Steven’s application is still pending and must go through a process in order to become approved, the halted deportation proceedings has renewed a strong potential for the passing of his green card petition.
Sean and Steven Brooks are one of 28,500 binational same-sex couples who no longer have to fear that DOMA will separate them.
In an interview to the Observer Sean Brooks said: “There isn’t any reason for the petition to be denied anymore. So that’s where we’re going to be picked up.”
His husband, Steven, added: “My marriage is not only recognized between me and my husband, just carrying a piece of paper that says we’re married, now we can be recognised – and protected – by the government.”