Los Angeles (CNN) — A federal immigration court judge in San Francisco put a deportation proceeding on hold Friday for a gay California man who is an undocumented immigrant and married to a U.S. citizen, the couple’s attorney said.
Alfonso Garcia, 35, who came to the United States as a boy with his parents, and his husband, Brian Willingham, 37, are petitioning the federal immigration service for legal residency based on their marriage, said attorney Lavi Soloway.
The judge put Garcia’s deportation proceeding on hold while Garcia’s legal residency, or green card, application is being processed, Soloway said.
The next immigration court hearing is October 25, the attorney said.
The couple lawfully married in New York and are registered domestic partners in California living in the San Francisco Bay area, but the federal immigration court doesn’t recognize gay marriage under the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between opposite sex couples, Soloway said.
The federal law is being challenged on constitutional grounds, with rulings expected this summer in federal appeals court, but the case hasn’t reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
The couple is hoping the federal marriage law is nullified before the October 25 hearing, Soloway said.
“If they were an opposite-sex couple, we wouldn’t have this discussion right now,” Soloway said of Garcia’s efforts to secure legal U.S. residency as a man married to a U.S. citizen.
“What this case is about is a Mexican man who was brought to the United States as a child and has lived here for 20 years, as has his whole family,” Soloway said. “But he doesn’t have lawful status.”
“We have a whole campaign around this case and other cases like it,” Soloway said, referring to the Stop the Deportations campaign and its website, in which gay and lesbian bi-national couples are fighting deportation, separation and exile caused by the Defense of Marriage Act and U.S. immigration law.
This article originally appeared on: http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/22/us/california-gay-deportation/?hpt=hp_bn2