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NEWARK, N.J. – Henry and Josh have won a reprieve in their fight to stay together as a married couple in the United States.
Judge Alberto Riefkohl granted an adjournment in their case today in an immigration court in Newark.
Henry Velandia, 27, a salsa dancer from Venezuela, and Josh Vandiver, 29, a graduate student at Princeton, were legally married last year in Connecticut. They have been fighting the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which would have forced the deportation of Velandia and broken up their marriage.
The judge placed a hold on the deportation, just one day after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder set aside a similar case involving Paul Wilson Dorman, who has a legal civil union with another man.
"The attorney general's decision yesterday is an extraordinary development, it's historic, it's the first time any attorney general has intervened in an immigration case involving a bi-national same-sex couple," said Lavi Soloway, an attorney who is representing Velandia and the founder of Immigration Equality. "The specific instruction he's given indicates he's interested in finding a possible solution so gay and lesbian partners of American citizens can be afforded the same rights."
Holder, the Justice Department and the Obama administration have said that DOMA is unconstitutional and that the government will no longer defend the discriminatory law in court. Yet, at the same time, the administration is enforcing the law. But Holder’s decision this week could show a changing policy.