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. banasy©

    @Jazzzzz:
    Wikipedia is not the be-all to end-all when it comes to facts...my kid's HS won't let them cite it as a reference for their term papers...just saying.

    August 10, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Judy75201

    I hope somehow they get to stay together. Sad situation.

    August 10, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Philip

    They ignored, spat-on, beat, attacked, and eventually murdered Jesus. Do you really think that I'm offended by their ignoring me and personally attacking me? No! Not at all! I'm happy to be beaten-down for telling the truth. Keep it coming.

    August 10, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    I REALLY hope you're not comparing yourself to Jesus, dude!

    August 10, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Anomic Office Drone

    DOMA is an abomination that will be looked back upon in the history books with the same disgust as segregation and internment camps.

    August 10, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jazzzzzzzz

    @ banasy... the question is why wouldn't they let her site wikipedia? And that is JUST one website I sited... not its not the be all , BUT she has a problem if it DOESNT CONFORM TO HER VIEWS... that's a problem... BEING BLIND IS A PROBLEM...

    August 10, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Philip

    @banasy...there is no answer for AIDS when it comes to our entire country. There was back in 1982, but Eagan ignored the Sugeons General's warnings, and had him replaced. All we can do now is limit our own personal exposure. How? By not joining any high-risk groups, for one. Perhaps you know of another way we can limit our exposure to AIDS?

    August 10, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Philip

    Oopsy...Reagan inored C. Evrett Koop's warnings. If he had heeded them, we may have been able to stop AIDS in it's first tracks. It's too late now. They say 40,000 per month die of AIDS. and we know now that the virus can remain dormant and undetectable for over 10 yrs. So really, we have no way of knowing exactly how many people are carriers.

    August 10, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jazzzzzzzz

    If they persecute me they will persecute you when following my way to live. its not verbatim and I cant remember the place in the bible but I think that's what Philip is saying banasy

    August 10, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Philip

    @banasy...Jesus is the measuring stick. To be "christian" means that one strives to be Christlike...that one guages his own behavior on the basis of Jesus' life. Who could compare himself to the greatest man who ever lived? Anyone striving to become a true christian, that's who.

    August 10, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Heather

    I am married to a Mexican national and have been for 10 years. We were denied his green card just for the fact that he was in the US for more than 1 year but less than 10. They gave him what is called a 10 year bar where we can not apply again until it is over. I have been very ill over the last 2 years and required 5 surgeries and finally lost one of my kidneys, he was not allowed to be with me during these times. While he was in the US he just worked and tried to make a living, never had problems with the law. I have been living in Mexico now for the last 5 years just so we can be together and have a working marriage. I have to cross the border daily to go to work or doctors appointments. I feel for these two people but the immigration laws not only affect them but a lot of us too who have fallen in love with someone who is not from the US.

    August 10, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Heather

    He was in the US illegally

    August 10, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. banasy©

    I have nothing to say, anymore.
    Some of the views of the people on here make me want to throw up.
    Their self-rightousness is nauseating to me.

    August 10, 2011 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. banasy©

    @Heather:
    I am so sorry for your troubles.
    One can't help who one falls in love with, can they?
    May it all work out for you.

    August 10, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. banasy©

    @Jazzzzz:
    Because the HS says that Wikipedia ia factually incorrect many times.
    They say this because it can be edited by anyone.
    I am just saying the this is what her HS says...and Purdue Calumet as well...
    I, personally, could cere less about Wikipedia...I can get my info other ways...lol!
    You needn't get mad at the messenger...

    August 10, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
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