FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 8, 2011
Michael Talon, or email@example.com
Erik Schnabel, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Amos Lim, or Amos@Out4Immigration.org
LGBT Organizations Rally for Binational Same-Sex Couple Facing Deportation
While DOMA Remains Law of the Land, Couples Are Being Torn Apart
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – On July 13 in San Francisco, Doug Gentry and Alex Benshimol, a married California couple who have been together for six years, will face every same-sex binational couple’s worst nightmare: a deportation hearing. Doug, a U.S. citizen, filed a marriage-based "green card" petition for Alex in July 2010. It was denied in March in a one-page letter citing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as the only reason. The couple re-filed the petition in June, citing changes in the administration position on DOMA that took place in February, and the Attorney General's intervention in a Board of Immigration Appeals case in April involving a gay binational couple facing deportation which was made public on May 5.
Alex came into the U.S. 12 years ago from Venezuela and overstayed a tourist visa, an immigration violation that straight binational couples can easily remedy once married; as a gay married couple, Doug and Alex do not have that option. Many binational couples are legally married like Alex and Doug, but they are still treated as legal strangers in the eyes of the federal government. There is only one reason Doug and Alex are facing deportation proceedings at all. That reason is the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, a law that the President of the United States himself has determined to be indefensible and unconstitutional.
On July 13, Doug and Alex will ask the immigration judge and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attorney prosecuting the case to put these deportation proceedings on hold pending the outcome of efforts to repeal DOMA or a final definitive ruling on DOMA's constitutionality by the federal courts.
To support the couple and to show widespread public support for their right to remain together, legally, in the United States, several organizations working for full federal equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans will hold a rally outside the courthouse in San Francisco where the hearing is scheduled to take place. Those organizations include GetEQUAL, Marriage Equality USA, Out4Immigration, and Stop the Deportations
As part of their campaign, Doug and Alex were featured recently in an article by the Associated Press (http://stopthedeportations.blogspot.com/2011/06/associated-press-highlights-doug-and.html). There is also an online petition, directed at President Obama, to save Doug and Alex's marriage: http://bit.ly/dougalex
Details about the rally are below:
WHAT: “Rally for Doug & Alex” (For more details on the rally, see the Facebook event page at https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=130583703690415)
WHO: GetEQUAL, Marriage Equality USA, Out4Immigration, Stop the Deportations
WHEN: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 from 7:30am-8:30am (prior to Doug & Alex's hearing)
WHERE: 120 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA
Doug and Alex have waged a public campaign to focus attention on the impact of DOMA on binational couples facing the imminent, irreversible harm of deportation. Doug and Alex are fighting to be together and save their marriage. They they are also fighting for their family: Doug's two children from a previous marriage consider Alex to be their stepfather and are heartbroken at the idea that he may be deported to his native country, Venezuela. Clearly, there is no option for Doug and his children to move to Venezuela, where life is not only dangerous for LGBT people but where Doug and his children would be unable to obtain any legal status, since Doug's marriage to Alex is not recognized in that country for immigration purposes. DOMA will tear apart this California family unless we stop this deportation.
Founded in 2010, GetEQUAL is a national grassroots organization whose mission is to empower the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community and our allies to take bold action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way. For more information, go to www.getequal.org, www.facebook.com/getequal, or www.twitter.com/getequal.
Founded in 1998, Marriage Equality USA is a national grassroots organization whose mission is to secure legally recognized civil marriage equality for all, at the federal and state level, without regard to gender identity or sexual orientation.
Out4Immigration is a volunteer grassroots organization that addresses the widespread discriminatory impact of U.S. immigration laws on the lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and HIV+ people and their families through education, outreach, advocacy and the maintenance of a resource and support network.
Stop the Deportations is a campaign launched in July 2010 by a group of married binational couples working with attorneys Lavi Soloway and Noemi Masliah, founders of Immigration Equality and partners in the law firm Masliah & Soloway. The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness of the cruel impact of the Defense of Marriage Act on married gay and lesbian binational couples and bring an end to that discrimination.