Gay Brazilian married in U.S. may face deportation

RUSSELL CONTRERAS | Associated Press

BOSTON — A Brazilian man who was recently reunited with his Massachusetts husband when federal officials temporarily allowed him into the U.S. said he could face deportation because the attorney general won’t reverse the immigration ruling that initially separated the couple.

Genesio Oliveira, 31, said Monday, Nov. 8 that he could be forced to return to Brazil in six months because of Eric Holder’s decision.

“I was very depressed,” Oliveira said in a telephone interview. “I’m terrified. I thought this would be over by now.”

Three years ago, Oliveira and husband Tim Coco, 49, of Haverhill, were forced to live apart when Oliveira was denied asylum over claims he was raped as a teenager. A judge found Oliveira’s fear of returning to Brazil “genuine,” but ruled he was never physically harmed by the rape.

The Associated Press does not typically name rape victims, but Oliveira speaks openly about his case and allows his name to be used.

The case gained international attention from gay rights and immigrant advocates who criticized U.S. officials for separating a legally married couple.

In June, at U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s urging, federal officials temporarily allowed Oliveira back in the country on humanitarian grounds.

Following his return to Massachusetts, Oliveira said the couple believed Holder would reverse the initial immigration decision. Oliveira, whose nickname is “Junior,” said that would have allowed him to apply for permanent residency in the U.S. either on the basis of his marriage or as an asylum-seeker who feels threatened by anti-gay violence in his country.

Although Brazil is one of Latin America’s most tolerant countries toward gays, a number of Brazilian gays have persuaded U.S. judges to grant them asylum on the grounds they would face persecution if sent home.

“I think (Holder) was never able to help us,” said Oliveira. “He has all the authority to help us and he doesn’t want to.”

The U.S. attorney general’s office did not immediately return e-mails and phone messages Monday.

Last year, Kerry asked Holder to grant Oliveira asylum on humanitarian grounds. Then in March, Kerry wrote Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano asking her to issue Oliveira “humanitarian parole” based on his fear of persecution in Brazil.

Humanitarian parole is used sparingly to temporarily allow someone who is otherwise inadmissible into the U.S. for a compelling emergency, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

A spokeswoman for Kerry said the senator was in Beirut and couldn’t immediately comment.

Coco said the couple is looking at all available options now, including trying to reapply for asylum, suing the federal government over the Defense of Marriage Act, or trying to convince lawmakers to pass a federal bill that would allow Oliveira to stay.

“But each one of those options come with risks,” said Coco. “Junior could be forced to go back.”

—  John Wright

Marriage battle continues in Latin America, with more wins for our side

The Mexico Supreme Court ruled last week that a Mexico City law, passed by legislators there earlier this year, is constitutional. The ruling came in a challenge to the new law pressed mainy by the country’s Roman Catholic religious leaders.

In another victory for LGBT civil rights, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled yesterday (Tuesday) that same-sex marriages performed legally in Mexico City must be legally recognized throughout the country, even though other Mexican states have not legalized gay marriage.

Mexico’s Supreme Court was expected to rule Thursday on an appeal of another law — passed by the Mexico City Legislature the same day that lawmakers legalized gay marriage there — that gives same-sex couples the right to adopt.

And today comes word that the Supreme Court of Costa Rica has ruled that a referendum that had been set to go to voters on Dec. 5 and that would have banned legal recognition of same-sex civil unions is unconstitutional.

“Minority rights that are derived from claims against the majority cannot be subject to a referendum process where majorities are needed,” the court said in a statement, according to Inquirer.net.

The referendum, again pushed by the Catholic Church, had come in response to draft legislation, introduced in 2008, that would give Costa Rican gays and lesbians access to legal civil unions that would carry some of the legal rights of marriage, including inheritance, health benefits and the right to hospital visitation in the event of injury or illness. The legislation has been stalled since it was introduced.

—  admin

Argentina scores a goal

Catholic Church lost in its bid to stop a win on same-sex marriage

Leslie Robinson General Gayety

Argentina suffered a distinct blow when its promising soccer team was bounced from the World Cup. What did the country do to pick up its spirits?

It passed gay marriage.

Argentina is the first nation in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage. Gays and lesbians in Argentina will have all the legal rights and responsibilities that marriage affords straight couples.

Goal!

The days leading up to the momentous decision were infused with pressure, both sides pushing and pushing. About the only thing missing were vuvuzelas. And for all I know, some Argentine soccer fans brought those horns home from South Africa and blew them in the streets of Buenos Aires, aggravating people on both sides of the marriage battle.

The issue of same-sex marriage pitted the Catholic Church against Argentine President Cristina Fernandez.

Time.com reported that Buenos Aires archbishop and Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio said, “This is no mere legislative bill, it is a move by the father of lies to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

Fernandez responded that Bergoglio’s statement was “really reminiscent of the times of the Inquisition.”

The hyperbole was sky-high enough to tickle St. Peter’s feet.

Polls indicated a solid majority of Argentines favored same-sex marriage, even though the country is overwhelmingly Catholic. With the president of the nation a strong supporter of the bill, and the lower chamber having approved it in May, all that remained was for Argentina’s Senate to get in the game.

In a march organized by the Catholic Church and evangelical groups, 60,000 people descended on Congress the evening before the vote.  Same-sex marriage supporters held smaller, loud rallies. As the final debate took place inside Congress, opponents stood outside reciting the rosary in freezing temperatures, and supporters chanted equality slogans.

These people must’ve wondered if the senators had escaped out the back door — the vote didn’t take place until 4:05 a.m., after 15 hours of debate. This game lasted so long it went into penalty kicks.

“Marriage between a man and a woman has existed for centuries, and is essential for the perpetuation of the species,” asserted Sen. Juan Perez Alsina, according to The Associated Press.

Sen. Norma Morandini compared the discrimination closeted gays experience to the oppression Argentina’s past dictators imposed. “What defines us is our humanity, and what runs against humanity is intolerance,” Morandini said.

With that, every dictator rose from his grave and tried to give her a red card, but no one noticed.

At the end of the long, tense session, the Argentine Senate approved same-sex marriage 33-27, with three abstentions. Argentina became the 10th nation in the world to approve gay marriage.

On the same day the Catholic Church lost the game, the Vatican announced that the “attempted ordination” of women is now one of the most serious crimes under church law, on a par with clerical sexual abuse of children.  Altogether, the Catholic Church is shooting on the wrong goal.

The first legal same-sex wedding is scheduled for Aug. 13.  Ernesto Rodriguez Larrese, 60, will wed Alejandro Vanelli, 61.  The men have lived together for 34 years, so presumably they require no pre-wedding counseling.

Mexico City, which legalized gay marriage last year, made an offer the guys might not be able to refuse: The city’s tourism minister promised a free honeymoon to the first gay couple wed in Argentina.

The minister seeks to recognize tolerance and to promote gay tourism, a healthy, eminently practical combo.

By the way, the two World Cup finalists, Spain and Holland, both legalized gay marriage. All the soccer-playing nations in the world, and it was those two that made it. I’m just sayin’ … .

Leslie Robinson thinks the U.S. better hurry up and legalize gay marriage if it is ever to do well in the World Cup. E-mail her at lesarobinson@gmail.com, and visit her blog at GeneralGayety.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 30, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas