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. Jazzzzzzz's mom

    Shhh kid... she watching us... yeah

    August 11, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Shane

    No thats just how our government works, My wife of 11 years had to return to Germany to get her immigration situation resolved after fighting them for 10 years. She was gone for 1 year 238 days before they gave her the ok to return. We have a 9 year old son who was 6 when she left but now she is a permanent lawful resident. It is the way our government works. As you can tell as recently how much they care for there people.

    August 11, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy ©

    I love God, and I'm not anti-gay.
    I believe in letting people love as they want.
    I believe in letting people marry *who* they want.
    Furthermore, I believe God doesn't frown upon that, either, because a loving God doesn't.
    Do not try to twist my words into *your* belief system.
    Short and sweet: don't like the gay lifestyle? Then do live one.
    Against gay marriage?
    Don't marry one.

    Self righteous prigs are insufferable to me....live your life the way according to your own moral compass, and let others do the same – even if your paths are different.

    August 11, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • to banasy

      lol

      God laughs at you.

      August 24, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy ©

    Oops...meant to say "then don't live one".

    August 11, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • M. Bentley

      Why are we so consumed by others "lifestyles", when they don't directly effect our own? In my opinion-
      God is perfect, we are not, while being made "in his image", we are human. Do I believe God made mistakes
      when he created anyone different from myself? No, in my opinion, he doesn't make mistakes, we do!
      Did you ever consider that you didn't get to pick your parents, nationality, color, size, or genes? Did
      anyone ask you before you we're born, what you wanted to be?! Or what color eyes you'd like? Many
      people are very narrow-minded & under-educated, and so they see life through a key-hole, pretty
      sad, heh? That being said, why not concentrate our very thin resources on "deporting"- of "Criminals",
      "Terrorists", and other such "Dangerous Offenders" from our Country! Just another point of view. If
      said person hasn't broken any laws here in our great country, and they contribute taxes here instead
      of "milking the system", then why not allow them to stay here? Is there some reason, other than
      being "Gay", that this person should be deported? Well, just maybe some "laws need to be changed"!
      Best of luck to these two people, and others like them.

      August 24, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    @Philip:
    As I stated, I don't use a different name unless I'm being trolled.
    Obviously, Madame Royale is a name I used because I was being heavily trolled.
    I no longer care whether you believe me or not.
    You had a bad day yesterday.
    I understand.
    Being a jag to your friends is not condusive to a friendship, however.

    August 11, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Philip

    I prefer to defend the lifestyle Jesus recommends over defending gay rights. So shoot me? I prefer to use Jesus, not Elton John, as my exempler. And since it is the bible who first introduced me to Jesus and his heavenly father, I love my bible that protects me from contracting AIDS by giving me the strength to resist the temptation of made-up women who sleep around. Defend the gay lifestyle if ya want. You're good at it.

    August 11, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donavan

      @Philip your beliefs should not dictate my rights. If you choose to live by a book that is written by man and designed by a bunch of men to benefit their religion, to each his own. Just don't cram your beliefs down my throat. My partner and I have been together 10 plus years and we live a full healthy life. Just because we are gay doesn't automatically give us AIDS.

      August 11, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • True2Faith

      Philip, Please remember "Faith. Hope. Love. The greatest of these is love." There is nothing that I have read of Jesus...what he said or what he did...that would cause me to believe that he would tear away someone who is ill from his loved one. Nothing. Jesus is love and he is compassion above all else.

      August 12, 2011 at 5:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Anthony

      Philip, I feel very sorry for you. Firstly, educate yourself, you cannot contract AIDS from anyone, you can only contract HIV. Secondly way more straight people have HIV/AIDS than gay people. Thirdly, your "Jesus" that you claim protects you is not what Jesus is about, even he would frown down upon you for your mindless ignorance. Fourthly "The Bible" is a BOOK! Gay people have been around since the beginning of time, their are gay animals too, it's part of nature and was perfectly acceptable before mans interpretation of Christianity took over and forced people to change their spiritual beliefs. I don't follow Jesus, but I don't have anything against him either, but let me tell you I'm sure he is disgusted at the way you use him name to justify your hate towards gay people. You are a coward and you think with your brainwashed brain and not your heart.

      August 22, 2011 at 6:04 am | Report abuse |
  7. Philip

    And calling someone "self-righteous" isn't exactly condusive to friendship either ya know. Especially when there are so many self-righteous religious leaders having relationships with other males, many of the under-age. Try picking on them for once.

    August 11, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Philip

    many of THEM under-age, rather.

    August 11, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Charlie

    Unbelievable that such a thing is happening in this country. Whether you agree with gay rights or not, whether you believe that their marriage is valid, whether you're religious or not, the base facts are the same: they love each other more than anyone or anything else on earth, one is dying, the other is his caretaker, and they are being torn apart by a law that doesn't recognize that love as equal because of their gender. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the fact that we legislate second-class citizenship in this country & legalize discrimination makes me ashamed to be called an American. I may live in this country, but I do not share the views and beliefs of our elected officials and their backwards, demon-haunted world. The more enlightened nations of this world who look down on us for our track record with human rights & civil liberties do so rightfully.

    August 11, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. banasy©

    @Philip:
    This is when I'm talking to you.
    I do just like this:

    @Philip:

    See?
    See how I did that?

    In other words, if I don't do that, I'm not addressing you.

    If you think that anything I have said applies to you, well....

    Were you talking to me in your 6:29 post?

    Because you didn't @, and I certainly don't want to say anything about a post that wasn't meant for me.

    August 11, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy©

    @Charlie:

    Amen.

    August 11, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. EJR

    @Donovan:
    You are talking to the wall. This guy is notorious for his anti-gay rants. Just ignore him. His God and his Jesus will judge him in the end for all the hate he tosses about so freely.

    August 11, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Pink Pather

    ok, here it goes from now on EVERYONE gets to state their opinion! If you want to debate each other fine as well BUT PLEASE do it in a respectful dignified way.

    August 11, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Philip

    If God's word recommened the gay lifestyle and praised it as holy and pure, some of you might like God's word. But it doesn't, so you don't. It's as simple as that. It would be the same for our religious leaders. If God's word were to recommend that "holy men" have relations with other men and boys, would that be acceptable to you? Would you then see the wisdom of God as found in his word? Because the way it stands, you do not see how striving to conform to God's righteous standards is of any value or offers any protection...as if a condom were mightier than God himself and could save you where Jesus could not? What a mess this attempting to make God's word conform to your behavior. What a mess.

    August 12, 2011 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
  15. SusieQ

    Philip: "What a mess this attempting to make God’s word conform to your behavior. What a mess."
    So is using the bible to hide behind because you hate gays. Notice I didn't say 'gay lifestyle'. Nice semantics, pal. A lot of people use the bible to hide behind when spewing their hatred. As if that justifies hating a whole group of people! Hate is hate, my friend, and hiding behind the bible doesn't change the fact that you're anti-gay. You'd be better of admitting it to yourself. Oh, and get some therapy for your Jesus complex, because you ain't he!!

    August 12, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
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