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. Mack

    Dr. Goode, banasy, and several others who debated Phillip and his admitted puppet Jazzzzz made excellent points on this topic.

    August 10, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mack

    @ Heather:
    I was very moved by reading your story.
    You must have a very strong marriage for it to endure these bureaucratic hurdles.
    God bless you.

    August 10, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cesar

    I'm going to watch the Smurfs tomorrow.

    August 10, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. personal attacks...

    ...are NOT "excellent points" Mack. Or did you perhaps miss the personal insults hurled my way? Yes? So post one of these "excellent" posts you speak of...the ones that put "self-righteous" Philip in his place. mentioned posts, plural. So give us a handful of examples..

    August 10, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Philip

    Odd how they spot Jazzy as a puppet but have trouble seeing Mubarek in the same light. Karzai, Afghanistans US citizen president isn't a puppet though. Right? Gadhaffi, who was trained the art of war in London, and who overthrew the king of Libya wasn't a puppet though, right? Castro was a puppet, but not Gadhaffi? How about Noriega. Was he a puppet? Let's ask the puppet-spotter Mack, who is probably one of Philip's fanclub's trolls.

    August 10, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Philip

    Hay Big Joe. How are ya? Or are you shunning me too now.

    August 10, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Cesar

    If banasy vomits, then I'll vomit. Then Philip will vomit then leeintulsa will vomit then RuffNutt will vomit then all the bloggers will vomit. We WILL ALL VOMIT and there will be anarchy in the streets!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 10, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Cesar

    Hey Philip! How are you? I am not shunning you. Sometimes I go off line and don't respond to people till the next day. If I ignore you as others, this will be the only reason. So how are you big guy?

    August 10, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Philip

    Odd..."Mack" uses the same sentence structure as our loveable queen. What's up with that?

    August 10, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Philip

    I'm alright, a little worse for today's wear, but all-in-all, doing well. Do you really think that we Americans have what it takes to do the "arab spring/london broil" thingy here? I saw young Egyptians on FB investigating Mubarek and coming to the conclusion that he was a bribe-taking puppet of the US AND Israel. I see no signs of American's getting so informed and moved to act. do you?

    August 10, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Philip

    (Bearing in mind that most Americans actually believe that condoms stop AIDS)

    August 10, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mack

    @ Phillip:
    Those with "excellent points" whom I mentioned had the patience to debate you and Jazzzz. I'm not going to take your bait and fool with it.
    As a consolation prize, I'll give you that your words about Jesus, although specious, were excellent as well.
    Butcha know, it's hard to do too badly when praising Jesus Christ.

    August 10, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Cesar

    @Philip: I heard Mubarek was putting his hand in the cookie jar. Don't think Americans will do the "thingy" for political reasons. I've heard some STD's can penetrate a condom and give the disease when tickling the ivories. I'm going to sleep now. I want to watch the Smurfs tomorrow. Good night pal. Stay cool.

    August 10, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mack

    @ Phillip:
    What's up with that?
    The "lovable queen" can write a sentence. I guess that you meant Elizabeth II.
    I can write a sentence.
    Notice the elements?

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

    Gn Cesar. Happy smurfing! he he. See ya around. (yeah, it would be nice if the AIDS virus was only found in semen. But even then, the virus can make itself so small, the condom appears to be a fishing net to the virus. The analogy that Surgeon's General Koop gave Reagan was that wearing a comdom to prevent AIDS is like taking your family on a countrywide vacation, and after returning home making sure that everyone was wearing a seat-belt before pulling the car into the garage. Condoms do squat when it comes to preventing AIDS)

    August 10, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
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