In a move that will no doubt have a far-reaching impact, federal officials have decided to cancel the deportation of Henry Velandia, a 27-year-old immigrant from Venezuela, who is married to another man, 30-year-old Josh Vandiver.
Velandia had immigrated to New Jersey in 2002, and last year legally married Vandiver in Connecticut. However, Velandia was denied citizenship as Vandiver's spouse because of the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that says only heterosexual marriages are recognized.
Somehow Velandia and Vandiver lucked out though. An open-minded judge in Newark, New Jersey, postponed ruling until the courts decided if a gay immigrant could be a citizen through marriage.
Turns out the feds have a soft spot for affection, as an official called the couple to inform them that the deportation had been called off. The federal officer explained that deporting Velandia "is not an enforcement priority at this time."
Velandia was beyond excited at the announcement. "I can start breathing now after so many months of fighting. I was holding my breath for fear of any moment being sent away," he said.
The couple, immigration lawyers and gay rights advocates are hopeful that the decision will allow other immigrants in same-sex marriages to become citizens and avoid deportation as well.
To quote the great Huey Lewis, "That's the power of love."