As most loving and committed couples are making dinner reservations for Valentine’s Day, one couple in Philadelphia is fearful that February 14 will be the most painful and difficult day of their lives. The couple to whom I refer is Brian Andersen and Anton Tanumihardja, and February 14 is the date that’s been set for Anton’s deportation to his native Indonesia. As if being torn apart indefinitely from the person he loves most isn’t enough for Anton to be dealing with, deportation in this case also poses serious threats to Anton’s safety given the increasingly harsh climate of persecution that exists for gay men in Indonesia.
The harsh realities Brian and Anton are up against are but one more form of discrimination that loving and committed, bi-national gay couples must endure as they seek to build a life together in the United States. If Anton was in love and wanted to remain in the U.S. with a woman who holds U.S. citizenship, this would be a non-issue. But because the federal so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” does not recognize the relationships of loving and committed gay couples, even if Brian and Anton were to marry in a state where it’s legal, they still would not have access to the protections of every straight, married couple – protections that are meant to keep families together.
While February 14 looks grim for Brian and Anton, the couple remains hopeful that they will not be torn apart this Valentine’s Day. Anton’s attorney has filed a motion to reopen proceedings, which at a minimum could delay Anton’s deportation and at best give him a chance to win his asylum case.
Brian and Anton, along with their attorney (Lavi Soloway, one of the founders of Immigration Equality), have turned to U.S. Senator Bob Casey’s (D-Penn.) staff for help and are also launching a letter-writing campaign to Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, asking her to postpone Anton’s deportation indefinitely. To raise your voice in support of stopping Anton's deportation, please click here now and encourage your friends, family and colleagues to do the same. (A sample letter you could fax/e-mail is available here.)
The plight of Brian and Anton provides a window into a much larger and all-too-familiar problem. According to an estimate by Immigration Equality, about 36,000 U.S. same-sex couples include at least one foreign partner.
As Valentine's Day draws near, GLAAD urges the media to shine a spotlight on the plight of Brian and Anton. Others need to hear and stand up for this love story.
GLAAD has provided media training to Brian and Anton. Both men, along with their attorney, are available to speak with the media.
Justin Ward, Media Field Strategist
Phone: (646) 871-8029 (office); (323) 313-7019 (cell)