August 10th, 2011
02:11 PM ET

Caregiver of husband with AIDS facing split by deportation over DOMA

A San Francisco man and his Australian husband will be forced apart when the Australian is deported this month after the federal government denied his request to be a permanent resident.

Anthony Makk was trying to become a permanent U.S. resident – like many heterosexual couples do – so he could stay with his loved one who he married seven years ago in Massachusetts. Makk, who has been with Bradford Wells for 19 years, is also doing it because he is a caregiver for his husband who has AIDS.

But the federal government denied his final appeal two weeks ago on the basis of the Defense of Marriage Act which doesn’t recognize their same-sex marriage.

"The claimed relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary is not a petitionable relationship," the government's ruling said. "For a relationship to qualify as a marriage for purposes of federal law, one partner must be a man and the other a woman."

The U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services echoed the sentiment, saying as long as DOMA was in place, they will continue to operate under that standard.

So now, unless someone steps in for them, the couple says they will have no choice but to part, with Makk being forced to leave the country by August 25.

Bradford Wells never thought he’d be in this situation. All he wanted to do was be with the man he fell in love with while he was on a tour of Australia 20 years ago. The couple made do with the laws that kept them apart – using visas to visit each other every three months. But it wasn’t enough time, so they decided to get married.

“Now for the past few months I’ve been sick to my stomach with worry and I’m going to wake up and Anthony isn’t going to be here,” Wells said.

The couple is calling for the U.S. government to step in and allow Makk to stay and care for Wells. The couple said they feel the federal government is doing everything to keep them from being able to do what any other heterosexual couple already can do.

“I feel that my government is trying to destroy my marriage,” Wells said. “And my government is trying to impose a great deal of harm on my life for no reason whatsoever. I feel like I’m being bullied by my government.”

But the fight to stay together has strengthened the couple's bond, Makk said.

“We made a big commitment to each other and the harder they make it, the stronger our relationship is.”

What’s more frustrating for Wells, who says that the couple never intended for this to become a public debacle, is that they make sure to do everything that all married couples are required to do – like pay joint taxes, but get none of the benefits.

“We have all the responsibilities, do the penalty parts of marriage, but then when it gets to the same benefits, we’re told no, you don’t qualify,” Wells said. “The government has decided they don’t like who I marry. For the federal government to say this isn’t a marriage – it’s degrading.”

Still, the couple holds out hope. Hope that President Obama could step in to the battle that’s already raging in Congress over a repeal of DOMA, which he said he would support.

The hope, Makk said, is what balances out the other feelings they had when they found out together that he would have to leave the country in 30 days. When they got the call from their attorney, he let them down lightly, Makk said. The lawyer didn’t want them to learn of the decision by opening up an envelope. They turned to each other after the phone call and said “I love you” to each other.

“We felt very lost. We thought we’d lost the battle. We were very hopeful someone was going to step in and do something,” Makk said. “So, we say ‘I love you’ a lot. We sit and we remember why we’re doing it. On the selfish side we’re doing this so we can be together. On the other side we’re also taking up the cause I suppose.”

Moving as a couple to Australia is not an option. Wells cannot move to there because of medical issues stemming from AIDS, the couple said.

It's unclear what the next few weeks hold. They’re not planning to say goodbye just yet. They’re still holding out hope.

What will they do during that cherished time together, perhaps time they won’t have for a long time?

That’s very difficult to think about,” Wells said. “We’re just taking it one day at a time.”

soundoff (170 Responses)
  1. George

    This is the reason the country is the way it is dumbells like this. DOMA needs to go.

    August 10, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. senzatioal

    What business a nother man has at another man's butt? Totally disgustin, they see the lifestyle is a curse, and they still wants to practice, and legalized it. They are not a legal couple, they are not a man, and woman. How would the two of them born without a mother and father?

    August 10, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • shelley gross

      wow – maybe you should keep your opinion to yourself until you get the hang of spelling and grammer

      August 10, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mmmmmm

    @pmk1953: Is there a law on the books regarding your claim? Because I actually had a sweet young lady call me a few weeks after we had been together. She crank called me and said "don't get mad get glad".. Then she laughed. The people of this planet are sick. Of course I told others I have been with. But I have no desire to date anymore. I either choose between ruining a good person physically and psychologically. Or I can stay among the people who don't care and play games. It really is a game too.. Complete with points, teams and injuries. Very sick place we've got here. God help us all.

    August 10, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Citizen Caine

    @senzatiol:
    YOU see it as a curse. They don't.
    Just keep your nose out of their business, and you'll be just fine. Oh, and stay out of politics.

    August 10, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Philip

    @SS...according to C. Evrett Koop and his team of investigators tapped by Reagan to find out where AIDS was coming from, the first several dozen cases were all gay men from the San Francisco area. Koop warned reagan that AIDS would rapidly spread to the hetero community via bi's and needle sharers, and that anyone with AIDS should be quarantined. Reagan had him replaced when he refuzed to go on TV and say condoms help prevent the spread, a lie. We should have quarantined them. (duh) It's too late now. Quarantines don't work on pandemics.

    August 10, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Philip

    Much of what Dr. Koop did when AIDS first appeared was covered in an interview with OMNI science magazine back in the early 80s. Koop understood fully that anyone with AIDS should have been quarantined. Hindsight being 20/20, he was right.

    August 10, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Curse vs. AIDS pandemic

    Few people are potential victims of a curse, whereas we are all potential AIDS victims (or volunteers).Volunteers? That's right. Your getting AIDS or not does not hinge on a condom, it hinges on your choice of lifestyle. (and wether or not you have a gay dentist)

    August 10, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Centers for Disease Control

    According to the CDC, gay men are 800 times more likely to die of AIDS than their hetero counterparts are. Whomever told you that AIDS and being gay has nothing in common, lied.

    August 10, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • shelley gross

      it is unfortunate for us that the first AIDS cases in the US were in the gay community. around the rest of the world it is a disease without prejudice. the first cases found were in the gay community – must make it a gay disease... it is thinking like this that continues to amaze me. wake up america !

      August 10, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. CDC

    *Catholic priests die of AIDS at 5 times the national average. How many of their children are now carrying the virus?

    August 10, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Melan Patterson

    I'm trying to figure out why it was necessary to include the husband has AIDS? how was that germane to the story? Omitting that portion and just saying caregiver would have accomplished the same thing. Was this just a covert decision so those posting (some of the most ridiculous and hateful comments) could attack the gay community instead of debating the relevance of DOMA? Was this an attempt to continue to reignite the Gay=AIDS/HIV stigma? I swear... i'm two seconds away from switching my news resource. some of the articles on here are so....awfully constructed. Booo CNN. You fail yet again.

    August 10, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • shelley - ohio

      the fact that he has aids was included in the story to illustrate just how urgent it is to resolve this issue. he will be deported in less than 2 weeks

      August 10, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Centers for Disease Control

    @Melan..."stigma"? H&w is it that gay men die of AIDS at 800 times the national average? Are they dieing from a stigma? How is it that heteros are not so affected?

    August 10, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Derek

      If you are going to pretend to be from the CDC, you need to learn to spell.

      August 10, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Centers for Disease Control

    AIDS is decimating our population of gay men, not our hetero men. Get a clue.

    August 10, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • shelley - ohio

      world wide all aids victims are men, women and children. it is only in america that people think that this is a gay disease. might i suggest some international travel for you? sounds like it will be the only way for you to see the truth...

      August 10, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Austin

      Wow stupid is as stupid does, and you do stupid very well

      August 11, 2011 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  13. Centers for Disease Control

    Gay men die of AIDS at 800 times the rate hetero men do. If 800 dogs died of a disease, you would think that it had something to do with dogs...even if one cat caught it. Would you not?

    August 10, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Derek

    What is most ironic, regardless of the religious views of anyone reading the article, is that the government is shooting itself in the foot over this deportation. There are two choices here:

    1) Do not deport the caregiver and let him pay for the other's medical care.

    2) Deport the caregiver and put the burden of paying for his care on the taxpayers.

    Which is the better choice for the U.S. in these tough financial times?

    August 10, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dr. Marcus F. Goode, IL

    It is through stupid data-gathering at web sights that agree with a hypothesis, whether it is true or not, that gives gays the stigma of being rabid AID carriers. For every hypothesis, there are a hundred web sites that will support a fraudulent claim. It is these fear-mongers, as evidenced by Philip and his various monikers, that will make normal, decent people turn on their fellow man. Instead of offering any kind of solution, people like him inflame. Gay-bashing is alive and well, and his name is Philip, CDC, whatever he wants to use today that will push his warped agenda. And his agenda IS warped. I do not know what happened to Philip to foster such hate against gays, but it shines through. He ought to be ashamed of himself. Lest he is trying to say he's trying to bring AIDS awareness to us: he's not. He's just trying to make everybody as anti-gay as he is. And make no mistake. He IS!

    August 10, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • shelley - ohio

      Here Here!!!

      August 10, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
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