Congressional candidate Mike Williams, who is running for Congress in Connecticut’s 5th district, has spoken out about how his foreign born same-sex partner Bart Hoedemaker may soon have to leave the country because of the restrictions they face as a result of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Speaking in an interview for MSNBC, Williams discusses how even though he and Hoedemaker, born in the Netherlands, are in a long-term relationship, they have been advised that due to DOMA they may be better off not marrying because of the way the federal government would treat their relationship and Hoedemaker’s application.
Hoedemaker’s visa is up at the end of September when his employment contract is up, and the couple now face being separated because of the legal barriers DOMA creates.
(Just a couple of clarifications on the above: the Obama administration no longer defends Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in court but the act has a number of parts, so this is not the same as saying it will not defend the entire act. The administration, regardless of this, will continue to enforce the rule until it is struck down by the courts or retired by Congress.)
More from an earlier interview with Raw Story in which the couple discusses their impending troubles:
Hoedemaker said, “With Michael’s job and running for Congress, we really can’t do anything remotely illegal,” so even though the Administration is no longer strictly enforcing the law, the couple faces a long-distance separation 10 days after Hoedemaker’s job ends at the end of September. “I’ve lived here for three years, and it’s impossible to pack up your life in 10 days,” he said — but skilled workers like Hoedemaker, a horse trainer whose visa is sponsored by his employer, have exactly that long to leave the country voluntarily after their jobs end.
“Most people don’t realize about DOMA, they think, well, you’re married in Connecticut, it’s fine, and they’re shocked to find out that it doesn’t matter,” said Williams. But no matter what the Administration does about enforcement, Williams cannot sponsor Hoedemaker for a green card — a right Williams’ sister will soon exercise on behalf of her Argentinian fiancé. Without a green card, not only could Hoedemaker’s status be subject to the whims of a new Administration or a Congressional action, he would not be eligible to work.
The Obama administration recently announced a shift in immigration policy to concentrate on high priority deportation cases. This would help prevent same-sex couples who meet all other legal requirements for citizenship being separated, the administration said.
The Obama administration has also recently withdrawn from a number of deportation cases where binational couples have appealed their deportation orders. This, however, is a last minute reprieve and while welcome carries inherent stresses and difficulties and does nothing to remedy the underlying problem of how DOMA and therefore the federal government treats same-sex couples.