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Deportation of same-sex spouse halted

Associated Press / May 7, 2011

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NEWARK, N.J. — A dancer from Venezuela who married an American man in a same-sex ceremony had his deportation placed on hold yesterday, one day after Attorney General Eric Holder set aside an immigration ruling in a similar case.

Henry Velandia, 27, a professional salsa dancer from Caracas, wants to be allowed to remain in the United States as the spouse of US citizen Josh Vandiver, 29. The couple live in New Jersey but were married last year in Connecticut, where same-sex marriage is legal.

Yesterday, an immigration judge in Newark adjourned Velandia’s case until December, citing Holder’s decision a day earlier. In that case, Holder set aside a Board of Immigration Appeals ruling allowing the deportation to Ireland of Paul Wilson Dorman, a gay man illegally in the United States is in a civil union with his partner.

The board based its decision in the Dorman case on the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Holder asked the board to determine if Dorman would be considered a spouse under immigration law were it not for the act.

This year, Holder said the government would no longer defend the law in court. But the administration still enforces it.

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