Same-sex couple in California receive 2-year deportation reprieve

A federal judge granted a gay Venezuelan man a two-year reprieve to stay in the US with his partner after facing deportation, according to multiple reports.

Alex Benshimol overstayed his 10-year visitor visa, which expired in 2009, and is now at risk of being deported back to Venezuela. Benshimol married his partner, Doug Gentry, in 2005 in Connecticut, where same-sex marriage is legal.

However, because gay marriage is not recognized by the federal government under the Defense of Marriage Act, immigration officials are pursuing Benshimol despite his legal union to a US citizen. This week, Judge Marilyn Teeter ruled that federal prosecutors have 60 days to decide whether they will proceed with the deportation, and scheduled a hearing for the court case in September 2013.

“We just want to be married like anyone else,” Gentry told the San Francisco Examiner. “We don’t want anything special, just to be the same, to be equal.”

In February, the Obama administration declared that DOMA is unconstitutional and ordered the Justice Department to stop defending the law in court. In addition, the administration recently chose to withdraw an appeal of a California bankruptcy case that ruled DOMA is unconstitutional and should not prevent gay couple’s from jointly filing for bankruptcy protection.