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Saturday, 4 April 2009

Lesbian mother gets a US deportation delay



A native of the Philippines and the mother of twin boys born in the Bay Area who had been threatened with deportation today has won a temporary stay to remain in the United States and appeal her case.

Shirley Tan, whose partner of more than two decades is a U.S. citizen, had her deportation delayed by the Department of Homeland Security until April 22. The stay gives Tan more time to make the case that she should be able to remain in the country legally. Tan and her partner, Jay Mercado, have been expecting to move to the Philippines with their sons if Tan was forced to leave the U.S.

The stay — obtained with the help of Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. — "gives them hope," said Melanie Nathan, a Marin County mediator working with the couple.

Since Sunday, when the Mercury News first reported Tan's story, her case has received heavy media coverage and become a rallying point for gay-rights groups that say the nation's immigration laws need to be changed to account for same-sex couples.

Because federal law limits the definition of marriage to a man and a woman, foreign same-sex partners of U.S. citizens don't have the same route to legal permanent residence extended to heterosexual spouses. A bill in Congress would allow a U.S. citizen to sponsor a foreign same-sex partner for legal residency.

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