A gay couple that was reunited in Haverhill thanks to help from Senator John Kerry is considering launching a legal challenge in Boston's federal court to the Defense of Marriage Act, which might be their last chance to stay together in the United States.
Tim Coco, a Haverhill man who owns an advertising agency, and his Brazilian husband, Genesio Oliveira, have been fighting Oliveira's deportation since 2002. Oliveira first launched an asylum case on the ground that he had been raped in Brazil due to his sexual orientation, but he was denied asylum in 2007. The couple, who married in 2005, also filed for permission for Oliveira to live in the United States as the spouse of an American citizen, but that request was rejected due to the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents gay couples from sponsoring their spouses as heterosexual couples do.
Seeing no other option, Oliveira returned to Brazil for three years, where "he lived in hiding," Coco said. But this summer, Oliveira came back to Haverhill on a one-year humanitarian visa that John Kerry helped them apply for.
Coco met Kerry at a community meeting in 2008 and "has been a zealous advocate ever since," Coco said.
Kerry's scathing attack on the Defense of Marriage Act can be read here.
The couple believed that Oliveira's temporary visa would eventually become a permanent right to remain in the United States, because US Attorney General Eric Holder indicated that he would reverse the judge's order rejecting asylum, according to Coco.
"But he has since told Kerry's office that he doesn't want to do that," Coco said.
Instead, Holder believed that the couple would simply re-apply for asylum, using the evidence they presented to get humanitarian parole, Coco said.
But their attorney has told them that winning a second asylum case are very difficult, since Oliveira had not been harmed when he returned to Brazil.
So now, trying to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act could be their only option left, Coco said.
"It would be expensive," he said, but added that it could be their last resort.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.