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©

    AIDs isn't airborne, either, Philip.
    Whole different ballgame.

    In any case, it doesn't take away from this story, which is just sad.
    I wish these two the very best of luck.

    August 10, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. KcCritic

    Why is it some non-citizens are allowed to stay and some are not? Sounds like these 2 have been playing by the rules, but aren't getting any of the benefits, yet they keep playing by the rules. It is heartbreaking. But, look who they're dealing with. 'Nuff said.

    August 10, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Robert Dolan

    Post a comment at if you care about these 2 decent people.

    August 10, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Philip

    @banasy...hogwash. The AIDS virus can survive for over 12 hours outside the human body, and can remain dormant and undetectable inside the human body for periods of over 10 years. We failed to respond to the AIDS epidemic i the same manner we have responded to other epidemics. Now, according to the CDC, AIDS is pandemic. (so does Austrailia allow AIDS carriers to move there or not? If not, should they? If yes, why? pls. answer)

    August 10, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    @Robert Dolan:
    Thank you for the link.
    I will tell every caring person I know to write.

    Nope, not going to get sucked into a debate with you.
    Your convictions regarding AIDs is well-known here, and I have no wish to debate this further.
    Please respect my wishes.

    August 10, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jimney Cricket

    @banasy: What Philip is saying is these men deserve Aids as a punishment from Gawd uh.. His obvious lack of scientific knowledge is replaced by wishful thinking and his sense of morality.. Just nod and agree with him. Also you should get used to missionary positions and not ever enjoying intimacy as that is sinful. Gawd uh did not make intimacy enjoyable, so you would enjoy being close with someone.. That was the Devil..

    August 10, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jazzzzzzz

    I would debate this topic, but instead I will defer all things gay related to the all knowing Philip..

    August 10, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jazzzzzzzz

      Not me... I have an opinion thank you! I don't debate with philip too much cause YES he does know more than me on many issues. I ask questions. I then check the facts he gives me and turns out to be true. Read the Bible and people often just state what their take is on what God is saying with out checking the WORD ... for FACTS. Please people you CAN have a discussion with out name calling or yelling.

      August 10, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Philip

    @JC...hargwarsh. When our then Surgeons General, Dr. C. Evrett Koop, wanted to attack AIDS before it had a chance to spread to the entire world's heteroseyxual community using the same techniques that we have always attacked potential epidemics (like limiting the travel of those inflicted with bird-flu) he was replaced. His replacement did NOTHING but recommend the use of condoms to prevent the spread, as if the AIDS virus were only found in semen. Now, thanks to the bleeding-hearts, we have, not an epidemic...but a full-blown worldwide pandemic. Would you cry for me if I were spreading STD's around town? (yes, AIDS is an STD, but not exclusively. One gay Florida dentist gave his AIDS to 59 of his patients without having intercourse with any of them)

    August 10, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • fbmarky

      I've booked you an appointment with said dentist. He says he can fill whatever you need filling, phil.

      August 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dgavin

    Good about time no one step in the gay. Ppl need to be dead they get more rights than any one good job Pres for not get ten involve all gay ppl and aids ppl need be sent to Africa

    August 10, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. justathought

    Nothing is said why Makk couldn't get citizenship. Why?

    August 10, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard in Minneapolis

      The only quick way to become a citizen is to marry an existing citizen. If my information is still up-to-date those without a family member 'anchor' need to go through the lottery system.

      August 10, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jazzzzzzzz

      Hey dude, are you HIGH?...just saying .... 🙂

      August 10, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Surgeon Sturgen

    @Philip: Aids did not start out as a gay disease. Your facts get mixed up with linear time. Obviously it is something that originated in Africa and most of the straight people there have it. It only spread in the western gay communities, because they have a more liberal lifestyle in regards to schmex. Obviously your Bible wolf God hates gays and blacks, so they are being smote with plagues.. Watch out everyone.. Be afraid!.. Don't have fun or enjoy life, because the evil wolf God says it's a sin.. rawrrr!..

    August 10, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jazzzzzzzz

      Your view...would have been better taken if you could spell honey... please read before you post, believe me I have done the same before. 🙂 just a Heads up for ya

      August 10, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Citizen Caine

    @Jiminy Cricket:
    He doesn't even NEED an audience! He'll just blather on regardless!!! Everyone knows he's anti-gay, even though he exhibits gay tendencies......

    August 10, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Surgeon Sturgen

    As far as Philip going around town spreading Stds I propose we dress him up like Saddam, but change his name to Sodom.. We will ignore the people that knowingly gave Sodom his WMD/Stds and we will instead lay down shock and awe fire and brimstone upon him. It's easier that way and it makes for good entertainment and politics.. Ok Philip? What say you to that?

    August 10, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Donna

    For those conservatives out there, do a cost-benefit analysis.
    Right now Makk is the primary caregiver for his husband. When he is forced to leave the country some other person or organization will have to take over the care and you can bet they won't be doing it out of the goodness of their heart – they'll want to get paid.
    There, does that convince you?

    August 10, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. pmk1953

    All I know is if you have one of the other stds, you have to tell who you have been sleeping with. Aids you don't because aids has rights.

    August 10, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
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