More than 1,500 New Yorkers gathered today in Manhattan to mourn the death of a 32 year-old gay man, who was shot down on Friday just blocks away from the historic Stonewall Inn in an apparent act of anti-gay bias.
Bi-National Gay Couple Fighting to Stay Together on Valentine's Day
For Brian Andersen & Anton Tanumihardja of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the past year has been a roller coaster ride...quite literally.
GLAAD first introduced you to Brian & Anton in the days leading up to Valentine's Day 2011. As most loving and committed couples were picking out holiday cards and making restaurant reservations, Brian & Anton were preparing for the unimaginable: Anton's deportation to his native Indonesia. As if being torn apart from the person he loves most wasn't enough, Anton was also very much concerned for his physical safety as openly gay people are often persecuted in Indonesia simply for being who they are.
In the days leading up to Valentine's Day 2011, GLAAD worked closely with Brian & Anton by providing them with media training and reaching out to journalists on their behalf. Fortunately the media responded to Brian & Anton's story in a big way. Thanks in part to coverage in local media, such as WHYY and Phiadelphia Gay News, national outlets like CNN and The Advocate also became interested and helped get Brian & Anton's story out to a much larger audience.
In the 11th hour - again, quite literally, just as Anton was en route to the airport on Valentine's Day to board a plane bound for Indonesia, he thankfully received a last minute stay of deportation. This was an encouraging victory over the discriminatory so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA), albeit a temporary one.
That was one year ago today.
Looking back on the last year, Brian & Anton are thankful for what they describe as "small victories" in their ongoing quest to stay together at home in Philadelphia, a journey that continues to be fraught with challenges.
Energized by the thought of spending the rest of their lives together, Brian & Anton, in the months following Anton’s stay of deportation, pledged their love and commitment for one another in a legal marriage ceremony in Washington, D.C., just steps away from The White House.
Their honeymoon was short lived, however. Last fall, despite the fact that President Obama has ordered the Department of Justice to no longer defend the constitutionality of section 3 of DOMA and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s historic announcement that this administration will use “prosecutorial discretion” to set aside low-priority deportation cases, including those involving LGBT families, Brian once again had to fight to keep his husband in the United States.
Once again, GLAAD worked with local and national media to shine another spotlight on the ongoing challenges facing Brian & Anton and thousands of other binational same-sex couples. At the same time, we issued a Call to Action demanding the Obama Administration live up to its promise and stop tearing apart LGBT families. Shortly thereafter, more than 3,100 people joined us by signing a petition on Change.org.
Of course a lot has happened since then. Just yesterday, Brian & Anton appeared before United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS) for a "green card" interview. Depsite the fact that DOMA prevents UCIS from actually granting Anton's request for a green card, Brian & Anton are encouraged to have been granted an interview and feel that their relationship has at the very least been validated by UCIS. At this point, Anton is hopeful that his application for a green card will move to a status of "holding" while the fate of DOMA is decided upon by the courts.
Still at home in Philadelphia following the big scare of Valentine's Day 2011, Brian & Anton take nothing for granted.
"In the end, we think the hardship has brought us closer and truly taught us to appreciate each moment we have together," said Brian, in an interview with GLAAD.
GLAAD wishes Brian & Anton a very happy Valentine's Day, and we are hopeful that the couple soon won't have to worry about which Valentine's Day might be their last at home.