Anthony Makk Won’t Be Deported, Can Stay In US to Care For His Husband

One of the most compelling and heartbreaking stories of 2011 was that of Bradford Wells and Anthony John Makk, a binational gay couple in San Francisco who faced deportation because their union isn’t legally recognized, even though Bradford suffers from AIDS and Makk is his primary (and only) caregiver. Despite heartfelt pleas to the Obama administration, as of August (and three days before Makk’s assigned deportation date) it looked like the couple would be separated by an ocean and a law that wouldn’t apply to them if they could have a legal marriage recognized by the US government.

Now, Makk has won a two-year stay of deportation, which will allow him to stay in the States and care for his ill partner for at least the foreseeable future, at the end of which the landscape of rights for gay couples will be anybody’s guess. They credit their victory to their representative, House leader Nancy Pelosi, as well as Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Mark Leno.

Technically, what Makk has been granted is “deferred action,” which means that while Makk’s status in the eyes of the law hasn’t actually changed, Citizen and Immigration services is willing to perform “an exercise of prosecutorial discretion” and make an exception for him (for two years, at least). Unlike the case of Monica Alcota and Cristina Ojeda, whose deportation case was actually closed last month, there isn’t a guarantee of continued residency for Makk. He has no way of knowing, really, if the same thing will happen again in two years. But as DOMA continues its slow decline into oblivion, it’s also entirely possible that Makk and Wells (as well as Alcota and Ojeda) can qualify for the same legal status as the straight international spouse of a US citizen.

Right now, as miraculous as both couples’ near-misses with deportation have been, neither Makk nor Alcota have a “path to citizenship.” Although Alcota did in fact apply for a green card, she isn’t eligible for one as long as DOMA remains in effect, and technically her stay of deportation may not be permanent either. She’s able to stay here under the US government’s new policy of prioritizing more urgent deportation cases like those of convicted felons, and “which allows some law-abiding undocumented immigrants with close ties to the U.S. to stay here temporarily.” Both couples can now enjoy some level of security, but still have to contend with the level of uncertainty that every gay couple in America faces, which is that ultimately it’s mostly up to the whim of the government whether they decide to treat our families as real or not. But for Makk and Alcota, and their spouses, it’s a blessing just to be able to be in the same uncertain boat as the rest of us, and with the person they love.

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. I haven’t felt this specific mixture of happy and sad since the week DADT ended and Jamey Rodemeyer took his own life.

  2. If I remember the other linked story correctly, their case was closed on the basis that since DOMA is no longer defended by the administration deportation can’t be justified, right? I thought this would set a precedent for all the other couples in the same situation, so why isn’t this the case here? :/
    This is just so wrong and heartbreaking, but I’m glad that they got at least two more years though, hopefully things will change by then!

    • I don’t know the details of the New York case but if a decision isn’t published it isn’t blinding precedent.

      Not to be a downer but it’s my understanding that these cases were closed/granted deferred action because of the foreign national’s family ties to a US citizen (not because in a hypothetical DOMA free future they could be the beneficiaries of an immediate relative visa petition). In the California case it’s pretty clear that one of the most compelling reasons he was granted deferred action is because he cares for his ill US citizen husband.

  3. Very happy for them, really.
    But as the foreign half of a binational gay couple I am tired of waiting for DOMA to die. Over the holidays my girlfriend and I talked and since she cannot sponsor me for a Green Card we decided to move abroad. London here we go!

    • I’m also in a binational relationship. I’m currently in the U.S. in law school under a student visa. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no indication that DOMA will be repealed, especially with the majority of States supporting traditional marriage legislation.

      The likelihood is we’re going to have to wait for the Supreme Court case on the constitutionality of gay marriage (which was probably brought too early in my opinion if you look at the current make-up of the Supreme Court). I doubt their will be change within the next 5 years and I will be applying for a work visa.

      It’s ridiculous that the Anthony Makk decision rests on the prioritization of deportation instead of the constitutionality.

    • I’m glad you found a resolution, Carmen. Being in limbo must be so stressful. I hope it all works out for the best for you both. ((hugs))

  4. I am glad to see that Mr. Makk is allowed to stay here a little longer. I think his deportation would have really devastated his husband emotionally and physically.

    I hope that DOMA dies before his two year stay expires. It’s a law that should have never been on the books in the first place.

  5. Thank you for the update, Rachel. I had read about this case and done all I could to support it, but had not heard the outcome. I am so relieved for them both that they at least have a temporary reprieve.

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