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"

    Ignore button. *click*

    August 10, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. DOMA supporter

    DOMA rules!! Thanks so much for this Act

    August 11, 2011 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      Really? Your narrow view of the world is sad. Chris – yes, he could have. That doesn't mean there isn't a lapse in justice here.

      August 11, 2011 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. Chris

    Great way to misrepresent the facts, CNN. Maybe at some point in the past 19 years, Makk could have applied for citizenship like everyone else. Now they play the gay marriage card, knowing well in advance that it is not recognized under federal law and acting like it's such a social injustice.

    August 11, 2011 at 7:17 am | Report abuse |
    • shelley - ohio

      he has been working for his citizenship, paying taxes and running his own business and employing americans.

      August 11, 2011 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
  4. shelley - ohio

    because they do

    August 11, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  5. Austin

    well joe,hoe lets hope you get then

    August 11, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  6. Austin

    I have to go to work now. I will be back promptly at 6:18 P.M. EST. Good day.

    August 11, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  7. hippediva

    Twice in less than 12 hours, I have seen a story on TV or read one here about DOMA making a royal mess of things. Isn't it funny that they never seem to split up the real illegals. Only the Australians or Estonians.

    August 11, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. banasy©

    I did not post anything after 8:53.
    I am not Mack.
    I post under 'banasy'©, unless I'm being trolled.
    I don't play those games, unlike some.
    Your assumption is wrong.

    August 11, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Philip

    Okie-dokie Madame Royale~ I believe you. Keep in mind the beatings I was enduring yesterday...a real hen-pecking. I am continually amazed by how people hurl personal insults at those professing their belief in the one true God. How is it, that in a country where 80% profess God, even our president does, yet they attack anyone who loves the ways of Jesus more than they love the gay way. Seems kind of azz-backwards to me. (shrug)

    August 11, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Philip! No one cares about your religion! You can practice is all you want and no one will attack you, BUT as soon as you try to force your religious opinion on the rest of the people in the US, then you are going to get attacked! Its as simple as that! Just don't understand why I should be forced to live by your, what I call non-sense! Its America! Everyone has the right to believe what they want as long as they don't try to shove it up everyone elses rear end and that is what you and your believers are trying to do!

      August 11, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Philip

    To the shelock holmes who figured out that Philip and Jazzy are the same person...bravo! We are. Yet, she lives in Rochester, NY, and I live in Colorado Springs, CO. Yet we are one in the same spiritually. We both prefer the ways of Jesus as outlined in the bible over any of the ways of modern men. 'To each his own' is the modern philosophy, whereas jesus says 'To each his true God'. We try to do it Jesus' way...others try to do it their own way. (i'll look you up at the appointed time that you posted. c-ya then)

    August 11, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Philip

    @Tom...the military uses force, not me. Why don't you highlight the forces that your own leaders use to force their views on entire nations of peoples? Innocent casualties of war are the ones having opinions forced upon them. There is no force bere on this blog that's forcing you to read every post. Just ignore me like you ignore the bible. I won't assymble a gang and invade your home(land). I promise.

    August 11, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jazzzzzzz's mother

    I would have remembered have you philip! LOL your funny folk kid...

    August 11, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Philip

    ...and Tom, both former President Bush and President Obama profess belief, and obviously believe in forcing their views on others. Do you have a problem with them, or just with people like me? Congress prays. No problem? Call president Obama a liar next time he says "God bless America" nationwide. President Obama advertises God a lot more than I do, and on TV.

    August 11, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jazzzzzzz

    Back on the porch OLD WOMEN... step away from the computer, NOW! Sorry folks

    August 11, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Philip

    Are you really Jazzy's mom?

    August 11, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
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