Administration Refuses to Help Gay Asylum Seeker
October 26th, 2009
Too often both our friends and our opponents fail to understand exactly why it is that gay couples seek to be treated with equality. It is not, as some anti-gay activists claim, to ‘legitimize homosexual conduct’, but rather it is to achieve the goals, rights and benefits that are essential to life.
Laws that protect married couples are designed with specific purposes in mind, and those purposes apply to same-sex couples as well. When gay couples are excluded from equal treatment, it is not just disrespectful of their relationships, it is a declaration that gay people are not deserving of the rights and benefits that heterosexuals take for granted.
And that is what the actions of the Obama Administration have declared yet again this week.
In 2005, Tim Coco and Junior Oliveira legally married in Massachusetts. At the time, Oliveira was seeking asylum in the United States, having been subjected to abuse and rape in his native Brazil. In 2007, when asylum was denied, Oliveira was forced to return to Brazil while the couple fought the legal system to be reunited.
They found a valuable advocate in Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. And, indeed, Coco and Oliveira had good reason to be hopeful that the Administration would intervene.
The judge who denied asylum, Francis Cramer, was a political appointment who had minimal experience with immigration law and was so blatantly unqualified that government watchdog groups were astonished at his selection. It was later discovered that federal judicial candidates had been screened for their views on gay marriage before they were appointed.
But Cramer did not only count Coco and Oliviera’s marriage as irrelevant. In his decision, Cramer made the bizarre declaration that while he didn’t doubt that Oliveira was raped, he “was never physically harmed” by it.
Recognizing the judge’s decision to be crass inhumanity, Kerry wrote to the Attorney General’s office requesting that Oliveira’s case be reviewed. Because asylum is regularly granted for far less cause, surely a friendly administration would intervene.
No. They would not.
On July 27, 2009, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote a letter to Senator Kerry informing him that the US Attorney General would not be reviewing the Coco/Oliveira case because that “forced sex” is not rape (they were unclear as to whether the Attorney General limits his belief that forced sex isn’t rape to male-on-male forced sex or whether that definition extends to heterosexual people as well).
Kerry was, naturally, incredulous and outraged. He has sought since then to get Attorney General Eric Holder to reverse the decision of his office. He informed the Attorney General that he wasn’t asking Holder to act against DOMA, but to grant asylum on humanitarian grounds, just as the government does for thousands of other immigrants.
Holder chose to ignore Kerry’s efforts. (A/P)
The Massachusetts husband of a gay Brazilian man says his spouse has been denied asylum that would allow them to be reunited in the U.S.
Tim Coco said Monday that the Obama administration did not act on a Friday deadline in the case of Genesio “Junior” Oliveira, effectively denying his request. The Justice Department did not immediately return messages.
Let us be clear. Were Junior Oliveira to have married a woman, he would not have been denied residency in this country. And were his reasons for seeking asylum based on factors other than his orientation, I am convinced that judges and politicians would have found more than adequate compassion to intervene.
I am so very sick of this. I’m disgusted by a legal system that denies equality. And I am furious with an administration that does not seem to care.