Massachusetts Senator John Kerry says
he supports a new lawsuit against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Tim Coco and Genesio “Junior”
Oliveira, a binational gay couple, announced Monday they would
challenge the 13-year-old law that bans the federal government from
recognizing the marriages of gay and lesbian couples.
Oliveira, 30, returned to his native
Brazil in 2007 after an immigration judged denied his request for
asylum. He sought asylum in the U.S. in 2002 because he said he was
raped as a teenager. In
March, Senator Kerry sent a letter asking for intervention in the
matter to Attorney General Eric Holder. On Friday, Coco told the AP
that the deadline for Holder to act had passed without action from
the administration, effectively supporting Oliveira's denial of
asylum and keeping the men apart.
The pair married in Massachusetts in
2005, three years after they met. Because federal immigration law
does not recognize the couple's marriage, Coco is not allowed to
sponsor his husband for citizenship.
Kerry spokeswoman Brigid O'Rourke told
On Top Magazine Tuesday that the senator will continue to
support the couple's
efforts to reunite, including suing the U.S. government.
“Senator Kerry will support Tim and
Junior's lawsuit, just as he supported the state's lawsuit
challenging the constitutionality of DOMA, and he'll continue to work
towards a solution that sees this loving couple reunited for good,”
O'Rourke said in an email.
O'Rourke said Senator Kerry voted
against DOMA in 1996 because “he knew it would result in tragedies
like this one.”
“It's tragedies like this that really
underscore why DOMA was wrong in 1996 and is wrong today,” she
The couple's legal challenge will
compete against at least three other lawsuits currently making their
way through the federal courts, including one from California and two
The legal obstacles keeping the men
apart are being given consideration in Congress. Representative
Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York, has introduced the Respect
for Marriage Act, a bill that would repeal DOMA, and the Uniting
American Families Act (UAFA). UAFA would allow gay Americans to
sponsor an immigrant partner for citizenship.
Steve Ralls, director
of communications for Immigration Equality, a group lobbying for
gay-inclusive immigration reform, said Coco's story highlighted the
“urgent need to end the
discriminatory immigration policies that LGBT couples face
of thousands of LGBT families are separated, or are facing
separation, because the federal government does not recognize them
for immigration purposes,” Ralls told On Top Magazine in an
email. “Too many families are torn apart under current immigration
law, and for each of them, time is of the essence.”
“Everyone should be allowed to be
with, and build a family with, the person they love,” he added.
Congressman Mike Quigley, a Democrat
from Illinois, urged for passage of UAFA on the House floor Monday.
“I strongly urge my colleagues to
remember what it means to achieve 'comprehensive' [immigration]
reform,” Quigley said. “We talk about doing what is right, what
is fair, and what is just – but we neglect to imagine the pain and
the suffering these families are going through because we as a
government think it's our right to tell people who they can love.”
The effort to include LGBT couples in
immigration reform has attracted 117 co-sponsors in the House.
Coco, 48, says he has accumulated about
$250,000 in legal fees since January.
“We are profoundly sad,” Coco told
the AP. “This is more than any married [couple] should have to