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. Centers for Disease Control

    According to the Catholic church, not one single hetero priest has ever admitted developing a relationship with a male parishoner, with many of them being under-age.. The same cannot be said for the 40% of US priest's who are openly gay.

    August 10, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Austin

      wow so you going to believe the Church, WOW you poor simple minded idiot, you have my pity

      August 11, 2011 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  2. shelley - ohio

    if mr makk would like to take a trip to cleveland i will be more than happy to help him gain a greencard and citizenship.

    August 10, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Philip

    You just don't know me. I'd kick you out of my house if you came over and I found-out that you had the flu, let-alone AIDS or swine flu or Asian bird flu or.... I don't hate gays, I hate what they do to each other. Ditto the war-mongers. I don't hate them, I hate how they War and how they personally profit from the misery of their neighbors...many of whom now have AIDS.

    August 10, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • shelley - ohio

      you have to be kidding me – this is 2011. do you really believe that being in the same room with an aids patient will make you sick??? it is ignorance like yours, sir, that insures that the disease will continue to thrive.

      August 10, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Philip

    @Shelley...so Australia allows AIDS carriers to move there, but not those who suffer from Asian bird flu? Odd, to say the least.

    August 10, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • shelley - ohio

      fighting with an unarmed opponent is not fair – i will stop talking to you now philip

      August 10, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Philip

    @Shelley...one gay dentist from Florida who knowingly had AIDS yet continued to see patients. Before he was done, he had transmitted his AIDS to 59 people. The first of his victims was a young girl, a famous case that sparked the "should doctors who have AIDS be forced to tell patients" debate. Obviously then, one can and many have contracted AIDS w/o intercourse.

    August 10, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • shelley - ohio

      oh, for god's sake philip – that story is from 1991. we did not have the knowledge that we have today about the disease. he would have had to have bleed into their mouths to get infected.

      August 10, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Philip

    ...and that was just one AIDS carrying medical professional from Florida. How many thousands have contracted AIDS from their doctors? The world may never know...for even though AIDS is pandemic and has been for years, doctors are still not required by law to tell patients if they are carrying the AIDS virus around. The virus lives in blood. Blood is found in mucous, sweat, tears, etc...not just semen. Your dr. would stay-away if he had the common flu, and would no-doubt warn everyone he came in contact with. Not for AIDS though.

    August 10, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dr. Marcus F. Goode, IL

    I have studied enough patients to know who is taking their latent tendencies out on the unsuspecting public via the internet. Denying what you cannot control is a technique people frequently use to cover up the fact that they feelings they are ashamed of. By bullying the readers of this thread, he is actually covering up that he is deathly afraid of gays. Using the Catholic Church and AIDS is his way of self-denial. I am not fooled, and neither should he.

    August 10, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marly

      Applause!!!!
      Too bad you actually can't treat Philip. he has problems.....

      August 10, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Philip

    Shelley? For every Str8 man that dies of AIDS, 800 gay men die. Does this disparity mean nothing? (yes, our very own Centers for Disease Control does in fact keep track of Aids death rates. You should visit their website someday.

    August 10, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • shelley - ohio

      i did – that is where i found out that the dentist in question has "several" patients in question NOT 59. the transmission is still being investigated. perhaps you should revisit the site yourself...

      August 10, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jazzzzzzzz

    The Center for Disease Control reported the first known cased of AIDS in 1981, they were 5 gay men in LA...

    Why wasn't it 5 Hetro men?

    August 10, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sherrie

    What is the point of all your statistices, Philip?
    I'm beginning to agree with the good doctor.....

    August 10, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sherrie

    Is that hetero you mean, Jazzzzzz?
    And is that 5 in the WORLD, or just the US? Everyone knows your Philip's puppet anyway......

    August 10, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Austin

      Jazzzz is Philip just on a split screen same person, dont be fooled, they are both one and the same

      August 11, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jazzzzzzzz

    The earliest know positive case of HIV came from the Congo 1959 OR 1960.
    A recent study states that a strain of HIV-1 probably moved from Africa to Haiti and then entered the United States around 1969

    August 10, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lyndsie Graham

      Quite right, Jazzzzzzzz. In St.Louis,MO., in 1969, a 15-year-old boy did die from AIDS as discovered back in 1987. In 1969, HIV was totally unheard of!

      August 10, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Philip

    Your good doctor will tell you up-front if he has the common cold. But if he has AIDS, he'll keep it a secret from you. Alarming disparity in practice, to be sure.

    August 10, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marly

      You're either a phobe, or a wannabe. Which one are you?

      August 10, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jazzzzzzzz

      hey FOLKS notice how Marly hurls insults but Philip just states the facts. Marly give us some FACTS, then I'll listen.

      August 10, 2011 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Marly

    Stop it, Philip. for all of your "data", all you do is spread hate. You hate gays, and gay marriage. well, i suppose that's fine, because I'm sure anyone who knows you would hate you, too!!

    August 10, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jazzzzzzzz

    No not from Philip!!!!!!!!!!!!! from WIKIPEDIA dear.... check it out. I did try and copy and paste some more FACTS for you all but it wouldn't let me.

    August 10, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
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