By: Shannon Ralph
For any of you who have even any inkling of doubt whatsoever about the imperative need to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), I have a story to share with you out of San Francisco.
Bradford Wells, a U.S. citizen, and Anthony John Makk, an Australian citizen, were married seven years ago in Massachusetts. They have lived together for nineteen years, mostly in an apartment in the Castro district of San Francisco. Wells has AIDS and severe AIDS-related health problems. Makk is both his spouse and primary care-giver.
On July 26th, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services denied Makk’s application to be considered for permanent residency as a spouse of an American citizen, citing the 1996 DOMA law that denies all federal benefits to same-sex couples. Makk was ordered to depart the United States by August 25th.
“I’m married just like any other married person in this country,” Wells said. “At this point, the government can come in and take my husband and deport him. It’s infuriating. It’s upsetting. I have no power, no right to keep my husband in this country. I love this country, I live here, I pay taxes, and I have no right to share my home with the person I married.”
Yes, the government can come in and take your spouse away. The government can destroy families when you have done nothing wrong. You do not have the same rights as your neighbors and friends. It’s wrong, but it is reality.
DOMA must be overturned so families do not have to live in fear. So couples can take care of one another in times of health crises. So we can make the same vows to one another as every other other couple. To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.
What’s so scary about two people loving each other for life?