Good news: Deportation hearing for Josh and Henry postponed

May 6, 2011 at 11:49 am 50 comments

By Adam Bink

Just now, the immigration judge in the case of Josh and Henry, a couple set to be torn apart by the Administration under DOMA, decided to grant the couple’s request to adjourn the case given the news yesterday afternoon of Attorney General Holder’s intervention in a similar case. The case is adjourned until December. Not a permanent and lasting success, but very good news that gives the Administration time to, in their attorney’s words, find ways to allow same-sex couples in legal partnerships to stay under DOMA, as well as grants more time for the couple to be together.

GetEqual is live-tweeting from the courtroom, and reported that the judge acknowledged Holder’s decision and that the definition of marriage is ambiguous.

I have no doubt that the noise we have made around this case, including today’s rally and generating tens of thousands of signatures to Sec. Napolitano and getting the couple on TV, has helped lead to today.

As Henry said:

Great job to everyone involved including those of you who signed to Sec. Napolitano and shared the news of the rally. Onward to more permanent success.

Update: Some comments from Lavi Soloway, the couple’s attorney, on what transpired. Good stuff.

Speaking with Soloway, their attorney in this matter, after the hearing, he tells Metro Weekly the immigration judge adjourned the deportation proceedings, which will place the matter back on the “master calendar,” which is more of a status conference and, more importantly for Velandia and Vandiver, removes the “immediate threat” of deportation.

“The judge said at the outset that he wanted to deal with the question of whether the case should be adjourned before we discussed anything else,” he says. “Despite the fact that he had earlier twice denied our motions for continuance. At this time, he essentially reversed himself.”

Of the reasons, Soloway says, “The first reason that he granted an adjournment was that the I-130 petition filed by Josh for Henry was still pending and he felt that it was appropriate to let the U.S. CIS to adjudicate that petition, and that it would be inappropriate to move forward until that happened.”

The second reason the judge cited, Soloway says, was Holder’s May 5 decision to vacate a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals related to the application of Paul Wilson Dorman, in which the BIA had applied Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act to his pending case.

“He also cited the potential that he saw from the Matter of Dorman decision yesterday, which he reviewed it in court and discussed it,” Soloways says. “He cited the potential that the government might be looking at a different way of approaching the definition of marriage for immigration purposes, and so, it was appropriate to adjourn in light of that decision to vacate.”

Once “the judge explained his reasoning,” Soloway says, “The government attorney said, ‘On behalf of the Department of Homeland Security’ that they were in agreement that that was the appropriate way to move forward.”

Of the Metro Weekly Poliglot report on Holder’s May 5 decision, Soloway notes, “I came into the court and the judge handed me Matter of Dorman, and attached to it, with a staple was [Metro Weekly‘s] article xeroxed for everyone to see, from yesterday. The judge said, ‘I’d like to make this part of the record.'”

Update 2: A wonderfully produced video of what happened yesterday (h/t Kathleen):

Entry filed under: DOMA trials.

Other Prop 8 briefs this week Anti-gay groups eye higher spending through next year

50 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lizeth Conde  |  May 6, 2011 at 11:55 am

    This is good news. I hope that this is the beggining to more great news!

  • 2. AnonyGrl  |  May 6, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Well, that IS good news! And hopefully it bodes well for others in similar situations, and ultimately for those like Franck who are caught on the outside by this problem.


  • 3. Ann S.  |  May 6, 2011 at 11:59 am


    • 4. JonT  |  May 6, 2011 at 12:03 pm

      Excellent news.

  • 5. Sagesse  |  May 6, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Before long, the Administration will find a way to hold all these situations in abeyance (on hold) until DOMA is resolved. It is not breaking the law to wait.

    • 6. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  May 6, 2011 at 12:21 pm

      I add my energy and hope to that possibility!

    • 7. Rhie  |  May 6, 2011 at 12:33 pm

      Yea. From what I know about this law and how the legal system works – and it is not much – this was the best the judge could legally do under the circumstances.

  • 8. Alan E.  |  May 6, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Lots to subscribe to.

  • 9. Don in Texas  |  May 6, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    It was great to hear this news, reported by Thomas Roberts on MSNBC about a half-hour ago.

  • 10. Rhie  |  May 6, 2011 at 12:23 pm


  • 11. Kathleen  |  May 6, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    This IS great news. I’m sure they want to quit having this hanging over their heads, but anything that stops a deportation, even temporarily, is good.

  • 12. DazedWheels  |  May 6, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Yay! I needed some good news today, and I’m glad it’s their good news!

  • 13. Ed  |  May 6, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    I know this will be a rhetorical question…..
    But Bryan, Maggie, NOM….are you guys happy that DOMA (the only reason this couple was facing deportation in the first place) will be defended in a higher court? Oh thats right….since it was a gay couple, they must not be a *real* family…
    Since I am banned from posting on your site, I cordially invite either one of you into this site (Our virtual home) and make your argument in difference to this couple, as well as in defense of DOMA.

    • 14. BK  |  May 7, 2011 at 2:11 am

      *chirp* … *chirp* … *chirp*

  • 15. Jon  |  May 6, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Yay Josh and Henry!

  • 16. Bob  |  May 6, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    did the judge actually say “the definition of marriage is ambiguous” ?? take that NOM,,,,,,

  • 17. saul balderrama  |  May 6, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Great news,no doubt this is only
    The begining of something even better!!

  • 18. Ronnie  |  May 6, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    YAY!!!!!…..It was awesome to be there today when they got the news from the judge….They looked so happy to be able to have more time together. Today was very emotional. The rally was awesome. There were around 60 people there to support Henry & Josh & all LGBT bi-national couples. The speeches were moving & powerful. When I get links to videos & interviews that were recorded & given I’ll post them.

    I just got home…so I have a lot to catch up on…..My cat pulled the plug to my comp & TV out but besides that today was an awesome day…..<3….Ronnie

    • 19. DaveP  |  May 6, 2011 at 3:02 pm

      Yay! Can’t wait to see the videos! So glad you were able to be there in person.

    • 20. adambink  |  May 6, 2011 at 3:07 pm

      That’s great that you went, Ronnie.

      Updated with a photo and some more background detail of what went on.

      Looking forward to seeing your stuff, Ronnie.

      • 21. rick jacobs  |  May 6, 2011 at 3:27 pm

        Way to go, Ronnie! Share, please. Want to post here about your experience? Please do.

      • 22. nightshayde  |  May 6, 2011 at 3:29 pm

        How is your shoulder doing, Adam?

        • 23. adambink  |  May 7, 2011 at 7:52 am

          Not so hot. Surgery scheduled for Friday. Thanks for asking.

          • 24. Joel  |  May 7, 2011 at 9:36 am

            Damn! Best wishes to you Adam. I just had back surgery. Listen to your doctors, question the anesthesiologist at length, follow your physical therapy to the letter, and get well soon!

          • 25. Ann S.  |  May 8, 2011 at 8:11 pm

            I second this advice, especially about the PT. Good luck!

  • 26. rick jacobs  |  May 6, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    If anyone doubts the power of engagement, online and off, doubt no more. Thanks to everyone for clicking and showing up and tweeting and reading and spreading the word. December is a lifetime away; with continued work, we have a good shot at getting the regulation changed by then.

  • 27. karen in kalifornia  |  May 6, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    From the post:
    “Once “the judge explained his reasoning,” Soloway says, “The government attorney said, ‘On behalf of the Department of Homeland Security’ that they were in agreement that that was the appropriate way to move forward.”

    Anyone know the name of the government attorney? It would be great to know the name of everyone “helping” this married couple stay together. The government representative didn’t have to agree with the judge but did and that is now on record.

  • 28. Sagesse  |  May 6, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Conference set Monday for ACLU lawsuit against DOMA

    • 29. Kathleen  |  May 6, 2011 at 5:37 pm

      And in case anyone missed these last night, the DOJ and House each filed documents in this case yesterday – they appear to be identical to those filed in the Pedersen case.

      Defendents’ Response to Motion to Intervene

      U.S. House’s Notice of Intent to Reply to the above Response:

  • 30. Sagesse  |  May 6, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    From Minnesota

    Editorial: Don’t put bigotry up for a vote

    • 31. BK  |  May 7, 2011 at 2:16 am

      If the amendment gets through the legislature, I hope the voters smack it down.

  • 32. Sagesse  |  May 6, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    From New York. Know thine enemy.

    Faith Groups Campaign to Block Gay Marriage

  • 33. Sagesse  |  May 6, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Seen this poll before.

    Details scant on marriage amendment poll touted by GOP

  • 34. Ray in MA  |  May 6, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    OT Isn’t is wonderful that South Africa has legalized Same Sex Marriage?

    “aren’t you happy that you got a real man for a change.”

    God help us.

  • 35. Sagesse  |  May 6, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    A history lesson. The backstory to the DOMA.

    Domestic Disturbance
    Before DOMA, there was another debate over marriage – within the gay and lesbian community

  • 36. Michelle Evans  |  May 6, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Might be a little late in the day to post this, but there was an incident here in Irvine, CA, a week or so ago, against a trans person. The incident involved the manager of a Ralph’s grocery store (No. 139) who went off on a transgender man. The manager was making snide comments about the person’s genitalia, and asking rude questions, all because he was just in line to buy groceries.

    We have a large group of people up in arms in our local area, and through our various trans support groups such as TG Rainbow and Shift Happens. Several letters have been sent to Ralphs corporate HQ, but so far as I know there has been zero response. The store in question has tried to say the whole incident was unimportant, and just sloughed it all off. Sounds like they think it is some sort of a joke–or maybe that transgender people are some sort of a joke. Either way, it is a very sad situation, and a truly horrible one for the man involved. Considering the full situation, I would hope that some action could be taken against Ralphs.

    We have asked Ralphs to not only apologize for what happened, but also to provide training to their employees concerning trans-related issues. As I say, so far, they seem to care less. I would hope that others in the LGB community would stand with your trans brothers and sisters in condemning what has happened.

    Looks like we may have another business to stay away from.

  • 37. Kathleen  |  May 6, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Video of news report on today’s hearing

    • 38. BK  |  May 7, 2011 at 2:35 am

      It was nice to see what the mom had to say at the end of the video.

  • 39. BK  |  May 7, 2011 at 2:36 am

    OT (sort of): Does anyone know whether there are major pushes for equality in any Latin American countries? I was just wondering if we could expect more countries like Brazil to make the headlines in the near future.

  • 41. Sagesse  |  May 7, 2011 at 4:15 am

    This rebuttal is way easier to read than Whelan’s daily rants, which I can’t get through. If you have a strong stomach and believe in tracking the opposition, you could read Whelan’s posts at Bench Memos.

    Whelan Pretends That Judge’s Sexual Orientation Isn’t Behind Move To Disqualify Prop 8 Judge

  • 44. Sagesse  |  May 7, 2011 at 5:25 am

    Holder issues surprise order to stop deportation

    Browse: Home / News Briefs / Holder issues surprise order to stop deportation
    Holder issues surprise order to stop deportation

    By Lisa Keen on May 6, 2011 via Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, and more

    U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Thursday (May 5) vacated a deportation ruling against a gay man, suggesting that his relationship with a New Jersey man might qualify him to be considered as a “spouse” under immigration laws.

    “This development could be a sign that the Obama administration is looking for a way to protect gay and lesbian bi-national couples who are currently barred from the regular marriage-based immigration process by the Defense of Marriage Act,” said Lavi Soloway, co-founder of Stop the Deportations and Immigration Equality.

    The brief, two-paragraph decision directs that the Bureau of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to revisit the case involving Paul Wilson Dorman to determine whether, “absent the requirements of DOMA,” Dorman’s same-sex partnership or civil union would qualify him to be considered a “spouse” under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

    Section 3 of DOMA stipulates that, for the federal government, “the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

    Holder asks the BIA to consider “the timing” of Dorman’s civil union on his request to stay in this country with his partner and whether Dorman would be able to qualify for discretionary relief based on “exceptional and unusual hardship,” if he had a relative in this country.

    Holder’s intervention may come as a surprise to some. Just last March, the Department of Justice advised the U.S. Citizens and Immigration Service (USCIS), which processes applications for green cards, that it should continue to recognize DOMA in processing applications for same-sex spouses.

    New York University Law School Professor Arthur Leonard, an expert in LGBT-related law, said Holder’s decision seems “unusual,” but he had not yet had a chance to assess the details of the case.

    Soloway said the development illustrates the importance of lobbying the executive branch “implement administrative remedies to keep couples from being torn apart.”

    “The heart-breaking stories of couples facing deportation have raised the profile of this issue, but we must keep the pressure on,” said Soloway.

    Soloway said he was representing another New Jersey couple at a final deportation hearing in Newark May 6 and that they would be asking the judge “to adjourn proceedings in light of today’s action by the Attorney General.”

    In issuing his decision to vacate the BIA ruling in the Dorman case, Holder noted his authority, under the Code of Federal Regulations, to review “all cases” that he chooses to review.”

    • 45. Sagesse  |  May 7, 2011 at 5:27 am

      Oooops. Didn’t mean to post the whole thing. Note the last paragraph.

  • 46. Ronnie  |  May 7, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Judge Gives Immigrant in Same-Sex Marriage a Reprieve From Deportation

    This is from the Stop the Deportations blog (includes a photo from the photo shoot we did with the banner at Liberty State Park):


  • 47. Sagesse  |  May 7, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Gay marriage debate grips Minnesota

    Measure that would ban gay marriage edging closer to spot on ballot; PFLAG hosting seminar next week

  • 48. Sagesse  |  May 7, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    They’re back.

  • 49. Sagesse  |  May 7, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    J. Crew Attacked Over Use Of Gay Model

  • 50. Sagesse  |  May 8, 2011 at 9:51 am

    As noted in the Advocate.

    Toronto is my home, and the school mentioned in the article was my son’s high school.

    Toronto Students Get Safe Space


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