By Greg Hernandez
Bradford Wells and Anthony John Makk, together 19 years and married since 2004, had been living under the threat of Makk's imminent deportation to his native Australia.
But they received at least a two-year reprieve this week from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services thanks to intervention from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and state Sen. Mark Leno.
'We’re still dizzy from the news,' Makk tells the San Francisco Chronicle. 'We are elated.'The couple, who live in San Francisco's Castro District, were especially desperate not to be separated because Wells is suffering from illnesses related to AIDS and it is Makk who is his primary caregiver.
Added Wells: 'I’m relieved, really excited and relieved. I am so grateful I don’t have to worry about Anthony being taken out of the country.'
Pelosi gave the good news to the couple herself this week and issued the following statement: 'The positive resolution of Anthony’s immigration petition is a personal victory for Bradford and Anthony, and keeps this loving couple together.'
Makk has been in the U.S. legally but had run out of extensions on his visa. The two-year reprieve can be renewed, according to Immigration Equality, the advocacy group that championed the case.
Working in the couple's favor for future reprieves are new federal guidelines in these types of cases that take into account such factors as being a primary caregiver, a lack of criminal record, family ties, and a long period of living in the U.S. legally.
Wells and Makk married in Massachusetts in 2004 and the Australian native applied for a green card based on his marriage to a citizen. But his application was denied due to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) passed in 1996 which bars same-sex couples from all federal marital rights.
The U.S. Justice Department announced last year that it would no longer defend DOMA in court but the law has not been officially repealed.